It was actually very fortuitous. I was originally hired by Airshare as a consultant to help find their next CFO. After several discussions with the executive team and the new ownership group, I was impressed with the business and felt the company had tremendous potential. I had previous experience within the transportation industry, having served as CFO for a trucking company, and felt the financial aspects were very similar. Both are capital-intensive logistics businesses with similar terminology, so it was a natural fit. I’ve since fallen in love with aviation, and even plan to one day earn my pilot’s license.
After two years as CFO, you were promoted to President and CEO in 2018. What drove you to pursue a larger role with Airshare?
During my tenure as CFO, I was able to review all aspects of the business. It was apparent to me that what the business needed to unlock its true potential was a simplified fleet (less aircraft types) to generate greater efficiencies and provide a more consistent customer experience. I was also surprised by how few people knew we existed. All we needed to really grow this business was a more efficient fleet and a more sophisticated marketing engine to expand our presence in the marketplace. We are also continually refining our internal and external customer experience, which has always been the foundation
of what Airshare does very well.
When the opportunity arose, I was excited to take all the knowledge I garnered analyzing and observing the business and use it to steer Airshare into the future. I was fortunate enough to take the interim role and the rest is history. Private aviation is an exciting industry, and Airshare’s potential to become a major player within it was extremely appealing. I was lucky to inherit a business that had spent almost 20 years delivering unparalleled customer experience. Our customers genuinely love us. Once they experience the level of service we provide, along with the value our program brings, they don’t leave us. We work hard to treat all of them like family. It’s the best culture I’ve been around, and I’m excited to help carry on its legacy as we continue to build upon an already fantastic business.
How is Airshare’s approach different than others?
The fundamental difference is we sell days rather than hours. But that’s just the beginning. Because we sell days, we allow our customers to use as many hours in a day as they need and the airplane and pilots stay with them the entire time. This allows our customers to be extremely efficient when they are going out and back within a day or two, or need to hit multiple stops during the course of their trip. We have customers with a single share that use up to 80 hours, which is the equivalent of almost two shares in a competing program. The flexibility we offer provides the freedom for customers to come and go as they please. The airplane and pilots are on their schedule, not ours, so we can accommodate any last minute requests if plans change.
We also have a whole aircraft management business to complement our fractional side. We have several customers who started out as fractional and now own their own aircraft that we manage. In comparison, many of our managed customers have purchased fractional shares for supplemental lift. Our fractional customers can also charter aircraft in our managed fleet when they prefer something larger or need the additional range to travel overseas. The marriage of the two businesses creates a holistic private aviation solution designed to serve customers with varying needs throughout their lifecycle.
Can you tell us a bit about Airshare’s different programs and how they serve your clients?
We have two business units: fractional and whole aircraft management. Between the two we operate approximately 50 aircraft. Within can either own or lease a share. Both options start at 20 days per year, which is the equivalent to a 1/16th share. Customers pay a monthly shared expense that covers their portion of costs such as pilots, flight operations, insurance and all the other fixed costs of the program.
They then pay an hourly rate based on usage of the aircraft. We also offer an EMBARK card, which is an annual 10-day membership that is an efficient alternative for those who need less than 20 days per year. Both programs include one-way pricing similar to our competitors. However, Airshare customers have access to round-trip pricing, which is a 40 percent discount off our one-way rates. We also highly encourage interchange between aircraft types. If you’re a customer that owns in a Phenom 300 but needs a Phenom 100 for a shorter trip with less passengers, our hourly rates are as low as $1,590. This is where our customers see tremendous value in our program. And if you’re a Phenom 100 customer but need a larger airplane with more range, they can easily upgrade to the Phenom 300.
Airshare’s fleet is comprised exclusively of Embraer aircraft. In your eyes, what makes Embraer such a great partner for your company?
The relationship between the two companies goes back over a decade. Airshare began ordering Phenoms back in 2007. We were the launch customer for the Phenom 100 in March 2009, and the following year we became the first fractional program to offer the Phenom 300. Historically we have a lot of experience owning and operating Embraer aircraft and our pilots love flying them. We are an Authorized Embraer Service Center and our respective maintenance teams have collaborated for several years. We also manage a wide range of Embraer aircraft in our whole aircraft management division. Our customers love the overall comfort of the Phenom fleet. The oval tube provides for a roomy experience, which is not something you can always find in the light jet market. We’ve owned several aircraft types over the years, but the Embraer aircraft have been extremely reliable, efficient and perform well, so a year ago when we decided to consolidate fleet types, it was an easy decision to move exclusively to Phenoms. Embraer has been a great partner and we look forward to many more years working with them.
What do you think it takes to run a successful company within the aviation sector today?
A key for us is recruiting a talented mix of individuals across the business, featuring both lifelong aviation experts along with professionals with proven experience from several other industries. This balance provides us with a fresh perspective to the industry and helps foster a spirit of innovation within Airshare. Our team has been able to mesh all this knowledge together to determine the long-term strategy for the business. Although we come from different backgrounds, we respect each other’s opinions and collaborate well to ensure we’re intelligently expanding. Collectively, we stay true to ourselves and our customers, with a constant focus on delivering what we believe is the best value in private aviation.
Where do you see Airshare headed in the future?
The sky is the limit! We have been very successful in the markets we serve and feel our program, consolidated fleet and customer experience position us well to execute our growth strategy. We are going to be aggressive in expanding the regions we serve, including our move into the upper Midwest this summer. Our analysis has shown us there is considerable demand for our program in this area, which includes Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and all points in between. We strive to pass on savings to our customers through aspects of our program such as roundtrip pricing and interchange capabilities, so we are always careful to ensure we stay true to the vision of our company. This is an incredibly exciting time for us at Airshare, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it!