Moove launches empty leg booking engine


Business aviation tech startup Moove has launched an empty leg booking engine which is on course to fill 8,000 otherwise passenger-less flights in its first year.

The marketplace, aka Smartleg Finder, uses an intelligent search tool to determine the nearest flights, including possible re-pricing and re-routing. The user can then “directly interact” with the operator to simplify flight setup and ensure transparency. There is also an automated return solution (commercial flight or train) for a complete travel service should the empty leg not fly direct to the user’s destination.

When asked why Moove launched the marketplace, CEO and co-founder Arthur Ingles told CJI he was witnessing operators struggle to fill empty legs. “They were often just putting them on their website or through newsletters. It was basically an Excel file sent to the end clients and brokers. We thought they will never reach any customers like that, except for very highly demanded transatlantic flights.”

“Basically, the main features that make us different from what people are used to is that we are direct and digital. We are direct between the drivers and operators, there are no brokers under the hood like you will find with most B2C platforms,” he adds.

Despite being a startup of just seven people, Moove has amassed a network of 30,000 users and counting. It also provides visibility to over 20 airports and FBOs in Europe via its integrated booking widget, for a commission of 7%.

“With now 8,000 passengers per year and 60 flights per week booked through our platform, the startup has demonstrated the relevance of its technology for direct and automated booking technology,” said Ingles.

So how does it work? Antoine Awaida, co-founder and chief technology officer of Moove explained: “With our centralised distribution and multimodal approach, we offer the option to book the return journey by scheduled flight or train, thus ensuring a comprehensive travel offer for travellers.”

Awaida, an AI engineer by trade, has not integrated artificial intelligence into Smartleg finder, the system works thanks to close cooperation with operators. The algorithm computes the additional, flight times, tax and so on. It then locates the closest match for the user. The software then prices the flight to open the negotiation between the operator and user. 

“We are directly connected to commercial operators – to their operations system,” said Ingles. “We are the booking brick on top of that system. We are connected to the empty leg list, this goes directly into the platform and then we can perform the booking request management.”

Ingles envisions the gradual digitisation of booking and managing flight requests under the $20,000 mark. “It is an intermediary-based value chain at the moment, but I believe people are wanting things in a shorter timeframe, with more transparency, additional functionalities and dynamic, intuitive platforms. Therefore I think flights under $20k will move to digital booking platform.”

The platform also has the potential to open up business aviation to more users. “I will never say, private aviation is cheap because it’s completely false. It is expensive, but you need to compare it, and that is why we do. We launched the first tangible benefit calculation tool compared to other transportation types in the world. So I think by opening the eyes of many professional travellers and also by distributing business aviation more efficiently, we can still do quite a lot in terms of having and reaching a broader market.”