Airshare digs Wheels Up in new ad campaign targeting business travelers

By Doug Gollan, May 12, 2021

Airshare says the multi-media campaign that tweaks Wheels Up is already ringing the phone with prospects who hadn’t considered the Lenexa-based Phenom 300 and Phenom 100 operator

Lenexa, Kansas-based Airshare, has a message for Wheels Up. It’s not democratizing private jet travel. It’s not a platform, and it’s not busy going public. Its message to prospects, however, is clear. It is focused on business travelers, particularly those who are making multiple stops on same-day and overnight trips.

The ad campaign, which features digital advertising, print, spot television, and emails, broke last week in the markets where Airshare customers are based. That includes a swath of the midwest running up from Texas to Denver in the west and going east to Buffalo.

Specifically, Airshare targets flyers based within 120 nautical miles of Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, and Dallas, Texas; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Kansas City and Wichita, Kansas; Denver; St. Louis; Chicago; Indianapolis; and Buffalo. It includes key markets such as Cincinnati, Louisville, Milwaukee, and Toronto.

During a 30 second TV spot, the narrator tells listeners, “While Wheels Up wants to make private travel accessible to millions of consumers, Airshare wants to bring the best experience to you because we’re not a platform. We’re a real-life business tool designed for efficiency, privacy, and getting you from point A to B to C and then back again, all in one day. We’re in the business of business travel, taking yours as high as you can go. So while Wheels Up is focused on going public, Airshare remains committed to the experience of flying private.”

A version on YouTube posted on April 29 has racked up 22,923 views. Andy Tretiak, Airshare’s chief marketing officer, says the company is already getting calls from prospects who fly with Wheels Up or were considering it but hadn’t heard of the fractional and jet card operator.

By-the-day jet cards

Airshare currently has 13 Phenom 300s and seven Phenom 100s. Both its Embark jet card and fractional share programs are day-based instead of the traditional hourly model. Embark members pay $85,000 or $54,000 for access on 10 days. One-way hourly rates are either $3,550 or $2,620, plus 7.5% FET. Flights that start and return from the same airport on the same day qualify for a 35% discount.

There are no daily or segment minimums, so you only pay actual flight time, plus 12 minutes of taxi time per segment. The set-up favors longer flights or business travelers who are making multiple stops on the same day. Since the aircraft stays with you, you can change departure times and even where you are going within the 14-hour duty limit of flight crews.

While the program doesn’t guarantee availability, executives say it fulfills 97% of flight requests. Since it is as available, there are no peak days and no minimum lead time for reservations. In addition, members can upgrade or downgrade between the two Embraer jets via an interchange formula. They can also fly where they need to go, and Tretiak says some members go as far afield as South America.

Tretiak says members often get twice as many flight hours. So an Embark member could easily tally more than 50 hours over their 10 days. Assuming one-way pricing, our back of the envelope math shows an effective hourly rate between $5,000 and $5,500 on a Phenom 300.

Aircraft management

Airshare also manages 26 aircraft, up from 19 in the past several months. Managed aircraft includes everything from additional Phenoms up to a Global 5000, says Tretiak.

Speaking about the digs at Wheels Up, Tretiak tells Private jet Card Comparisons, “We feel the business customer is underserved. Businesses use private aviation because it allows them to be more productive, flexible, and know who they are flying with.”

He adds, “A lot of the things Wheels Up is promoting has merit, but it doesn’t align with the needs of the business traveler. We want to show prospects who might not be familiar with us why Airshare is a better option.”

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