A brand new tech startup, Airr, has high-flying dreams of connecting travelers with airplane owners. Like other ride-sharing businesses such as Uber and Lyft, Airr seeks to utilize the sharing economy to help people get where they need to go.
“It’s no secret that it’s incredibly convenient to have a private aircraft at your disposal,” says CEO Joseph Davis, who started the project as a graduate student at MIT. “You don’t have the hassle of going through security. You don’t have to wake up 4 hours before your flight. You show up when you want, and you get to where you need to go. Flying used to be an inconvenience. Now we are making it possible for anyone to get across the country on-demand and with much more appealing accommodations that commercial airlines can offer, all without having to purchase your own aircraft.”
Due to complex international regulations, Airr has only been cleared for domestic flights at this point, but Davis seemed confident that within a few years they will be a fully global operation. He also noted that currently, many flights with Airr, while offering the convenience of being on demand, are not necessarily less expensive than flying commercially at this point. “Lots of individuals out there own small airplanes. Those are typically the most affordable for your average traveler, though what they trade in convenience they will still pay for with their pocketbooks.” Davis hopes that as more people hop on board with the service, prices will drop because with more users on both the supply and demand end of the equation, the overall customer experience gets better and better.
In order to get a full understanding of what the service could do, I downloaded the Airr app to my phone. After a simple profile set-up, I was prompted to type in information about my travel plans. I invented a trip to LA for the next day, leaving from NYC, and selected 8:00 AM as my departure time. The app brought up a list of four pilots in the area that might be able to meet my request. There wasn’t an option to instantly book the flight; instead, the pilot first had to accept the request, similar to many listings on AirBnb. The initial flight was only one-way, but I also had the option of finding a flight from LA back to NYC at the same time to complete the round trip. By the time I had reached the checkout screen, my total was around $3,145 including the fuel and service charges. Needless to say, you might still be flying economy until prices come down.
“We see this service as being very future-ready. Already there are so many companies getting into the business of personal flight. My favorite, Lilium, has already made huge strides in the field of personal electric vertical takeoff and landing jets. If anything like this comes to consumers in the next 10 years, we will be right there waiting to make sure everyone has access to these exciting new modes of transportation.”
by Candice Thomas