Written by Steven Bond, News Editor - Destination of the World News
It was a memorable moment when we first whipped out our smartphone and hailed chauffer-driven transport to our precise location. Just a few short years ago, Uber would have seemed akin to a Star Trek teleporter in terms of the level of technology available. Now, the app-based transportation service has made its way from America’s east coast to the UK, UAE, Australia and beyond, taking with it a raft of rivals and very similar services. So clearly the next logical step was to take to the skies.
Luxury, as we know, is partly about convenience, but Uber has gone out of its way to appeal to the high rollers and heavy hitters by taking its customers sky-high. It was late last summer that the Bay Area company first invited Californian kings and queens to “take off with UberCHOPPER” for a 45-minute tour of LA’s cityscape, before descending on the Malibu Wines estate, complete with safari animals and cheese and wine tastings.
Rather than just offer pop-up promotions, the app-based service Blade is a way to crowdsource chopper flights or purchase seats on scheduled flights between Manhattan, the Hamptons, Mohegan Sun and NYC airports. More recently, with Blade Bounce you can now book a six-seat Eurocopter and fly between NYC and its area airports in less than five minutes. The experience is billed as a true on-demand offering as passengers can take off in as little as 20 minutes after pushing a few buttons.
Offering an annual membership, JetSmarter is seeking to “democratise private aviation”, according to 26-year-old CEO, Sergey Petrossov. The app launched in March 2013 and has now been downloaded 300,000 times, arranging more than a thousand private jet flights in 2014. The company claims that A-list celebrities, royalty and sheikhs are among its users.
“In the Middle East we have heavy jet fliers, which is a totally different,” said Petrossov in a recent interview with DOTW News. “We have a lot of customers that are booking all the way up to Airbuses. When they go on our app and make a search and see the rates from the carriers, they realised for the last years they’d been overpaying millions. And that’s how the word gets out.”
A similar service is BlackJet, which has enabled thousands of private jet seat bookings through both mobile and web, with access to a network of professional charter operators. While the system is used to crowdsource jet flights, the platform can also be used to charter aircraft to any destination worldwide, with just a few taps of a finger. Aircraft options are numerous and include a full complement of Gulfstream and Hawker jets, as well as a Boeing 737.