The bad blood and sniping between NetJets and Flexjet may have competition. Or at least, that could be the result as Lenexa, Kansas-based Airshare, launched a second television spot attacking larger rival Wheels Up.
The ad reader begins, “Wheels Up is planning to systematically disrupt private aviation.”
It continues, “If you travel with them for business, we think you’ll feel it because they will be using a third-party network. At Airshare, we believe knowing exactly what you are flying on and who you’re flying with is important.”
The 30-second spot concludes, “The last thing your business needs is another disruption. So, fly with a partner who’s in the business of business travel. While Wheels Up is focused on going public, Airshare remains committed to the experience of flying private.”
After its January acquisition of Mountain Aviation, Wheels Up is neck and neck with Flexjet in terms of for-hire private flight hours (Part 135 and 91k), trailing only Berkshire Hathaway-owned NetJets. It’s planning an IPO, possibly by the end of this quarter. Last year, Airshare clocked 11,935 flight hours, according to Argus TraqPak, fourth among fractional operators, making it about one-tenth the size of Wheels Up.
However, in May, Airshare signaled plans to grow significantly. It placed orders and options for 20 new Bombardier Challenger 350 super-midsize private jets. Its current fleet includes Embraer’s light Phenom 300 and very light Phenom 100 aircraft.
Airshare currently serves clients within 120 nautical miles of bases in Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas, Texas; Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Kansas City, Wichita, Kansas; Denver, Colorado; St. Louis, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana, and Buffalo, New York. This includes Cincinnati, Ohio, Louisville, Kentucky, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Toronto, Canada. While clients can fly within North America, it plans to move its target area for customers into the Northeastern U.S.
Wheels Up offers a national program. It has also signaled plans to expand internationally. Earlier this week, it relaunched its corporate travel offering under the UP for Business banner.
The rivalry between Airshare and Wheels Up isn’t limited to the barbs from the smaller player’s new ad campaign. Wheels Up ambassador Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers bested Airshare spokesperson and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in this year’s Super Bowl.
A spokesperson for Wheels Up didn’t respond to a request for comments.