Can the Airbnb Model Work for Private Flights?

KinectAir is betting big that it can

KinectAir plane
Could flying private be cheaper than flying commercial?

There’s an interesting and sometimes-overlooked aspect to private flights that could turn out to have a very beneficial side effect. That’s the way that private flights’ return legs can sometimes be empty as they return to their point of origin. That, in turn, begs the question: what if those empty seats were, instead, full? And what if the cost for that for travelers was competitive with what they might expect if they took a comparable commercial flight?

For the aviation company KinectAir, those are not rhetorical questions; instead, they’re at the heart of their business model. As CNN’s Julia Buckley recently reported, the company allows travelers to book space on what’s known as empty leg flights. Based on CNN’s findings, the costs per traveler are comparable for some routes, with a few caveats — beginning with the “per traveler” of it all.

CNN cited one example of a flight from Phoenix to Palm Springs that cost $698 for a private plane with three seats. If you’re traveling with two other people, that might well be the most competitive airfare you’ll see, especially if you’re booking a flight at the last minute.

“We’re thrilled to make private flying, with all of its flexibility, fun, comfort, beauty, safety and profound hassle-free advantages, much more accessible to the general public,” the company’s Chief Operating Officer Katie Buss said in a statement earlier this year.

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KinectAir began its operations in California before expanding to more of the western U.S. earlier this year. CNN notes that the company has focused on piston engine and turboprop aircraft, due to the lower costs associated with both. And with some airlines ending their service to regional airports, it isn’t hard to see a space opening up for the right company to take advantage of that vacancy in the market.


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