Over the past three decades, the cost of air travel has dropped dramatically. The results have been far-reaching, and have given birth to a new wave of disruptive business models, most notably the low-cost airline, which revolutionized mass travel across much of the world.
On the other end of the price spectrum, private travel seems poised to reinvent itself, as a new wave of startups on both sides of the Atlantic are growing the “all-you-can-fly” airfare method. The premise is more or less as straightforward as it sounds. For a monthly fee, individuals seeking to fly privately, or in small groups are able to do so at their convenience on a number of select, usually short distance routes.
So far, three startups have managed to put the plan into practice, disrupting a market which seems poised to expand.
– Surf Air
The company which gave birth to the concept has been in operation since 2013 and currently offers flights across California, as well as charters to Las Vegas. Since its creation, the startup has amassed nearly $18 million through five rounds of funding, and currently has 430 members taking advantage of the service, along with a sizable waiting list for its fleet of three Pilatus PC-12 aircraft which carry seven passengers each.
Created as an East Coast version of Surf Air by the company’s former CEO Wade Eyerly, Beacon offers unlimited flights to a variety of destinations across the Northeastern United States for $2,000 a month. Unlike Surf Air, Beacon doesn’t own the jets it uses, meaning that for the moment the company is looking to compound the service aspect of the entire flight experience. As Eyerly pointed out in a recent interview, “essentially, at this point, we’re a sales and services company. We’re focused on the all-you-can-fly subscription model and delivering a very, very, high level of service.”
– Take Air
Europe’s first experiment with the all-you-can-fly model, the company is unique in comparison to its American counterparts in that it operates across boarders, with services to and from London, Paris, Zurich, and Antwerp. Members can book flights as little as 30 minutes before takeoff, and cancel without any fees. The company is launching in March 2015, and by that point expects to have 100 members ready to fly, according to CEO Matthieu Dardenne.
Application In Commercial Industry
Giving the growing popularity of the all-you-can-fly model in the business travel field, one would assume it’s only a matter of time until traditional commercial airlines, especially low-cost carriers, catch on to the trend. So far, only Air Asia has attempted to do so on a large scale, offering what the company calls an ASEAN Pass across ten different Southeast Asian destinations for $148 a month.
With the concept seemingly ideal for short distance travel, Europe springs to mind as a potential location for further expansion of the model. Given the reduced cost of flying, it might not be long before the big names in the airline industry take to offering monthly plans as well.