AURA, if it takes off, will be the latest semiprivate airline, selling seats on a scheduled private jet like aircraft and avoiding commercial airport terminals at fares competitive to commercial airlines
ZED Aerospace, a start-up started in March 2016, according to the founder’s LinkedIn profile, will launch AURA, what it is calling America’s first Five Star flight experience, in 2019. The by the seat membership flights will link Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Denver with scheduled flights using Bombardier CRJ700 aircraft reconfigured for just 29 passengers. The aircraft will be operated by Presidential Aviation a leading Part 135 charter operator and management company. AURA joins a growing list of companies attempting to prove there is a market for scheduled alternatives to the commercial airlines that use smaller aircraft and avoid the congestion of large airport terminals.
The private airline is the vision of Zander Futernick, a member of the family that owns Smith Tranportation Services, Inc., a trucking company, according to a 2015 profile in the Miami Herald. Listed as an advisor is David Tait, a veteran airline executive who helped launch Virgin Atlantic Airways in the U.S. during the 1980s who was more recently a senior vice president with Air Canada and has advised other start-up aviation related ventures.
According to its website, AURA flights will be operated by Presidential Aviation, an Argus Gold rated and Wyvern Wingman certified operator. AURA, on its website, said it has started selling Founding Key members that will allow joined to help “pick initial airports in each city.” In terms of flying the company is saying if you cancel your flight over seven days before departure you will receive a flight credit applicable for future travel worth 100% of the fare paid. A 75% flight credit will be given for cancellations within two to seven days before departure, a 50% credit for cancellations 12 to 48 hours before departure, and a 25% credit for cancellations within 12 hours before departure. There is no fee for same-day changes, according to a questions and answers section on its website. You will be able to choose your seat without a fee.
There will be pricing both peak and off-peak pricing, and like JetSuiteX, JetSmarter, Surf Air, Tradewind Aviation and start-ups such as Air Chicago, flights will not use commercial terminals, but AURA says its flights will use private hangars at major international airports and private airports. It has ambitious plans to serve multiple airports in large cities. It says at launch, it will serve airports most requested by Founding KeyHolders. Currently listed are five airports in South Florida, including Opa Locka (OPF), Miami Executive/Tamiami (TMB), Miami International Airport, (MIA), Fort Lauderdale Executive (FXE), and Palm Beach International (PBI). AURA says it will fly to Chicago Executive (PWK), O’Hare (ORD) and Midway (MDW) in Chicago, and both DeKalb-Peachtree (PDK) and Fulton County (FTY) in Atlanta. In New York plans call for flights to White Plains (HPN), LaGuardia (LGA) and Newark, (EWR). Los Angeles flights will be to Van Nuys (VNY) and Long Beach (LGB) while Denver will use Centennial (APA) and Rocky Mountain Metropolitan (BJC). Passengers only need to arrive 20 minutes before departure time.
According to a press release, through July 1, 2018, AURA is offering:
- Founding KeyHolder (one adult) $100:
- Locked-in Founder renewal rate of $100 per month (vs. $250 per month for Standard Key Holder)
- Waived $700 initiation fee
- Founding CorporateKey (up to 50 users) $1,000:
- Locked-in Founding CorporateKey renewal rate of $1,000 per month (vs. $5,000 per month for Standard Key Holder )
- Waived $5,000 initiation fee
In terms of seating, there will be two classes, FIRST (below) and WAVE (above). FIRST passengers can bring up to 120 lbs over two pieces of luggage. WAVE guests are allotted 160 lbs over three pieces. The FIRST cabin will feature seats in a 2-1 configuration with 44 inches between seat rows. WAVE is described as “the pinnacle of the AURA experience featuring custom Swiss-designed zero-gravity AÏANAWAVE seats in a 1-1 configuration. Additionally, WAVE guests have access to the largest window in the sky, a layer of transparent OLED connecting two windows together.”
Meals will include a rotating selection of fusion tapas and sushi as well as full meals with meat, poultry or fish to be cooked and prepared onboard using sous-vide technology. There will be complimentary beverages, including alcohol and high-speed WiFi. Fares will start at $280 one-way, according to the company.