“It is inspired by Uber,” admitted Ubair CEO Justin Sullivan, just in case anyone had any doubts. “Our goal is to bring the seamlessness and ease of use of Uber to private aviation.” Sullivan, who’s been involved with several private jet ventures, said he came up with the idea because of the ubiquity of apps on smartphones. “It’s an easy access point for private aviation,” he said. Unlike fractional ownership or jet cards, there’s no membership fee or deposit required, and with the app, users can quickly obtain one-way quotes for flights anywhere in North America and the Caribbean. And like the car service that inspired it, Ubair comes in various flavours: from the lowest cost prop plane (Ubair Taxi) to a more glamorous Gulfstream (Ubair “Heavy”), and several categories in between.
The comparison with its famous namesake only goes so far, of course. Uber disrupted ground transportation by offering a better product at mostly lower prices; private flying, even at a discount, will almost always be more expensive than commercial flights. And there are some aspects of Uber that Ubair would just as soon not mimic—especially with the lower-end services where there have been complaints about unprofessional drivers.
Rate Chart for Ubair
Ubair’s “drivers”—pilots—are highly trained and all aircraft and crew “are held to the highest safety rating,” according to David Tait, a former executive at Virgin Atlantic who is also part of the management team. He also said that rates could be surprisingly affordable depending on the size of the party travelling; for example, a family of five could fly in a full-size jet from New York to Stowe, Vermont, for around $2,000 (Rs1,28,000) one-way—not much more than the cost of a commercial flight for that number of passengers and their gear.
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Tait said that Ubair has not heard anything from Uber but added, “We’d be happy to have an Uber car meet all of our flights.” (Uber did not respond to a request for comment.) And if this all sounds familiar, that’s because it is: Sullivan labelled his previous venture, the ill-fated Jumpseat, as “the Airbnb of air travel.
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