Startups aim to bring private air travel to more of the public

Private air travel has long been considered a luxury reserved for celebrities and the rich. Now it’s becoming an experience available to ordinary travelers through services allowing them to book seats on private planes which would otherwise be sitting idle.

Do the big commercial carriers have to worry?

CGTN’s Phil Lavelle went to Austin, Texas to find out.


A Texas startup is hoping to disrupt commercial air travel the way Uber did the taxi and limousine industry.

Tapjets enables fliers to book flights on private planes that would otherwise be sitting idle.

“You can literally book a flight in 30 seconds. If an operator is looking to position over for another flight or back from a flight, it gives a chance for an operator to make revenue,” Executive Vice President, David Molina said.

Apps that allow customers to book these private jets are literally taking off-with companies like SurfAir, Jetride and Tapjets. Some operate on a ride-by-ride basis. Others offering a subscription service. For a fixed monthly fee, Santa Monica-based SurfAir, gives customers as many rides as they want within California.

Tapjets said it’s seen a big increase in interest from the Chinese market.

“Our platform is designed mainly for the U.S., but we have seen a lot of registrations overseas, especially in China, asking about flights over here and to overseas; and so we see that as an emerging market for us,” said Molina.

But air industry experts said this isn’t a model that’s going to upend the big commercial airlines any time soon.

Brett Snyder writes for the blog, Cranky Flier. His verdict: “Most of these services are really trying to fill a niche. They’re looking at small areas that they can fill in where they don’t think the airlines are really servicing today. So, compared to the big airlines, it’s a drop in the bucket. It’s nothing really.”

For consumers, it’ll still mean more choice-and in some circumstances, more comfort at a lower price: something many travelers will be happy about.

July 24, 2018