Aero hopes to ‘sustainably serve’ underserved semi-private segment
Aero aims to take control of the previously underserved semi-private segment, bridging the gap between first class and private air travel.
Founded in 2019, Aero’s CEO, Uma Subramanian said the firm’s mantra is that “air travel should be a magical, seamless experience”. Today, commercial flying falls well short of this expectation, and private air travel is largely unaffordable, according to Subramanian. “We launched Aero as a semi-private air carrier in 2019 to address the market gap between commercial first and business and private air travel. We are building a magical air travel experience for our guests and aim for to them feel special at every opportunity.”
The premium leisure segment is hugely underserved because the models that have gone before have not worked economically, said Subramanian. “We own all the aircraft in our fleet. Owning our aircraft enables us to customise the aircraft to meet our guests’ specific needs.” Tickets start from around £1,000pp ($1,220). For example, checking flight options on Aero’s website a flight from London to Nice comes in at £1,050pp ($1,281). In the US, a ticket from Aspen to LA would cost £1,433pp ($1,750).
Putting the fleet together was a careful process, evaluating the needs of the business and researching the best aircraft options to meet those. “We completely redesigned our [Embraer] ERJ135 to create a bespoke, 16-seat jet experience, providing maximum comfort and all the benefits of flying private while offering by the seat purchase,” she explained.
The boom seen in private aviation over the past two years has been reflected in the semi-private sector too. “Safety, privacy and ease-of-experience – core tenets of the Aero experience – quickly became key decision factors in travel. With our contactless check-in, access to private terminals, luggage arrangements and private transfers on the ground, we provide a solution to air travel that is exactly what travellers are looking for,” said Subramanian.
“The pandemic has really illustrated that travel is essential to who we are as human beings. There is enormous pent-up demand for new travel experiences, and we continue to see this reflected with traveler demand increasing across all of Aero’s routes,” she added.
The carrier has plans to expand too. It currently operates route in the US and Europe. Europe was Aero’s first market; in 2019, it launched Ibiza to Mykonos, which remains one of its most popular summer routes. “Since then, we have expanded into new markets. This winter we have connected London Farnborough with Geneva and Sion, the gateways to the French and Swiss Alps, as well as continuing our popular Nice route which has been extended until September this year,” said Subramanian.
In North America, Aero recently introduced its new hub in Dallas and continues to fly between Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sun Valley, Aspen, and Los Cabos. Its LA to Aspen route has seen its highest demand yet over this winter season. Last August, Aero secured a $65m capital raise, $50m in Series B funding and $15m in convertible notes, which brought a total valuation to $300m.
The funding round was co-led by AlbaCore Capital Group and returning investors Expa and Keyframe Capital, with new investment from Capital One Ventures. Series B funding will be used to drive the company’s global market expansion and to answer increased demand on existing routes.