When Uber appeared as if by magic less than a decade ago and rapidly emerged into the consciousness of world travellers, the establishment blanched. Here was an upstart with an app but very little else which within 5 years and with hardly ounce of capex somehow eclipsed Avis and Hertz in value. And Budget. The app economy has driven some changes since, Lyft, Airbnb and a plethora of algorithms all bustling in our hedgerows promising a beautiful future without the middle man and woman.
Another has crept into the daylight in the aviation industry. This one involves the tiny island of Guernsey off the English coast. Wings aviation which operates half-a-dozen planes and now plans to offer sales of tickets through a simple mobile application. Well about time I heard you shout as you reached for your trusty iPhone et al.
The big idea with Waves is that the amount your pay for your seat depends on demand. Surge pricing has been one of the criticisms of Uber. Journey’s that cost around $50 suddenly cost $500 based on demand. This is how the establishment protected you and I from sudden engorged greed, but it’s not something that Uber and Lyft really subscribe to. Wouldn’t you allow your prices to rocket if you could and there was little competition?
Waves is working with entrepreneur Nick Magliocchetti and plans to use a 14-seater Cessna 208B Grand Caravan EX aircraft secured on lease to launch the service. The company is bending over backwards, sideways and inside out to argue its not actually competing with existing business.
Ahem. Is everyone fake-newsing or it just my cynical bone that says ja-nee, that’s bollocks? Its clearly competing because its going to try and fly a route which has an established company delivering people by air to and from the little island.
But I must tell you once more that if I had a zillion Ecuadorian shillings, I’d be thinking about launching an Uber-like service for fuel and planes in Nigeria. The only small problem for both Waves and me is the civil aviation authorities of various countries. Its all very well thumbing your nose at the San Francisco City authorities when you want driverless cars to hum around the neighbourhood, its a very different kettle of white sharks launching an Uber-like service in aviation.
There you actually do have to make sure that various rules are followed by pilots and folks who make sure the wings don’t fall off. Yet, there’s a possibility that some sort of app culture will kick off properly in general and commercial aviation. It’s not a new idea, Gotham Air launched in New York City in September 2016 offering an app and trips along the Hudson from point A to point Y for $219 where charter costs start at $1500. So there’s something there.
So time to shake off the entrepreneurial lethargy and fling ourselves at this app culture. There are a few things to take into consideration such as laws, regulations, costs, hedging on fuel, licenses, airport tax, laws, more laws. Other than that, sounds good.