Next up for takeoff: Uber for airplanes?
You might soon be buying flights on custom electric jets for the price of a bus ticket.
Imagine there was an Uber for airlines. If you were in San Diego and wanted to head to Silicon Valley for the evening, you'd just pull out your phone, click a button and walk into your startup meeting two hours later.
Eviation, an Israeli electric jet startup, is trying to make this dream a reality. Customers could buy their own custom flights, for themselves or as a pool, going exactly where they want, when they want. Oh, and they'll be inexpensive. Really, really inexpensive.
"It needs to cost like a bus ticket," said Omer Bar-Yohay, Eviation's CEO.
These flights will be so inexpensive because the company plans on using electric planes. Batteries are way less costly than traditional fuel, and electric components are less likely to break and require pricey repairs. And that's not just a theory – electric planes are around today; they're just haven't yet broken into the market on a commercial scale.
Electric planes have some downsides, though. At the moment, they're much better for short flights with few passengers than long ones carrying a lot of people. Perhaps that's why Eviation is focusing on small flights. Its planes can carry a maximum of nine passengers about 620 miles. Flights will travel between quiet regional airports that don't tend to get much use. Eviation isn't competing with the big guys for your trip from New York to Jerusalem. It's competing with cars, trains and buses for your commute between New York and Philadelphia.
"We are not here to steal clients from Cessna or other aircraft makers," Bar-Yohay said diplomatically, before most undiplomatically adding, "We are here to steal clients from Ford, GM, Tesla ... because we can be cheaper per mile."
Rather than a crazy idea, this one actually seems a little inevitable. Uber itself is researching aircrafts that can fly passengers short distances. But Bar-Yohay, an alumnus of Hebrew University, isn't worried about the competition.
"It's the next blue ocean out there. There is going to be room for everybody," he said before characteristically continuing, "I don't think it is going to be winner takes all, but it will be winner takes a hell of a lot."
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