If you thought flying private was only for the 1%, a startup called Blackbird is trying to change that.
CEO Rudd Davis said that frustration with increasingly horrible traffic in California was part of what led him to build Blackbird, an app that lets anyone hop a privately-owned plane for short distances—between about 50 and 400 miles.
Blackbird's app includes three options: charter, reserve seats on pre-schedule flights, and an option called Hitch that the company likens to the "carpool of the skies."
The Hitch option matches passengers with private pilots, who fly either self-owned or shared small planes, who are already headed where passenger want to go, and have seats to spare.
Passengers simply split the trip expenses—including fuel fees, landing and airport fees—with the pilot, and that can mean flights as low as $50 if you split with friends.
Blackbird says that by leveraging unused capacity on private planes and the 250,000 regional airports across the U.S—plus a network of passionate licensed pilots—they can make private, short flights accessible to anyone. But like any "sharing economy" business, their challenge will be balancing supply with demand. Davis said that Blackbird has more than 100,000 monthly active users so far, and about 2,500 pilots that have signed up for the Hitch option.
"Our goal is to make flying as cheap and as convenient as driving," he said.
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