Flying at the Next Level

Today our friends at JetBlue Tech Ventures and Boeing announced an investment in a new electric aircraft technology company — Zunum Aero — that not only brings more green technology to an industry that is reliant on standard fuels but also seeks to help cut the time travelers have to budget for short haul trips, like those between Boston and NYC or Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach. Check out Fast Company’s coverage here.

Speaking as a travel executive and as a consumer — I’m stoked.

When I helped create JetSuiteX a year ago, it was driven by that latter idea. Air travel, a concept and an industry that I’ve dedicated my life to, has become a chore. All the lines, the waits, the cattle calls regardless of your status, the baggage claim and the traffic (I’m thinking of you, LAX) have made it near impossible to get where you need to go quickly.

The short answer for a select few is private flying, and we obviously love that, given the JetSuite private aviation business I also run, but that wasn’t what my friends and family could do regularly.

JetSuiteX services Mammoth Lakes, CA with seasonal service.

So we created the airline we wanted to fly in JetSuiteX, with a private ground experience that keeps things moving, and a scheduled, sold-by-the-seat model that makes it cost efficient. We also chose to operate out of private facilities at underutilized airports like Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport and Concord’s Buchanan Field, across the Bay from San Francisco and a stone’s throw from Oakland. These were both great alternatives to dealing with traffic and bad parking. Throw in leg room, free drinks and a really nice aircraft in our customized Embraer 135, and suddenly you could get where you were going faster and better than before.

Now I look to the future. We’re going to be expanding our routes, and soon. Daily, we get comments and emails requesting this destination or that. It’s coming, I promise. We will be the preferred regional carrier, starting out here on the West Coast and expanding. I can’t wait til the emails are demanding our services all over the country.

In the medium to long term, we’re excited for companies like Zunum to succeed, as, I’m sure, are their backers. The idea of taking this regional model that we’re pioneering to another level altogether with electric or hybrid capabilities is one we can’t wait to explore. As a hybrid driver myself and as a CEO responsible for the bottom line, I’m sold on the advantages of the battery operated machine and will be watching carefully as the technology develops. We can’t wait until it comes to fruition, and we hope to evaluate Zunum’s platform before very long.