Impact Publications : MiceBTN_63
Page 18 • MICEBTN - May-JULy 2016 Page 18 • MICEBTN - May 2016 Subscription flying tipped to move into mainstream WHETHER it’s entertainment, food or communications, more consumers are choosing preferred, long-term provid- ers - and those industries are getting the message, not just about what consum- ers want, but about the advantages of being a preferred supplier. Now there are signs the air travel industry is adopting the trend. Subscrip- tion charter flying is growing, while legacy airlines already are moving to market repeat business benefits such as mileage programs, loyalty perks, free upgrades and discounts designed to keep the customer coming back. Punch-card travel or unlimited travel in a given time period are just two of the solutions the airline industry are adopting to win strengthened passenger loyalty and a stronger bottom line. While airlines currently tend to con- centrate their market battles around pricing, subscription travel offers them the opportunity to compete in other ways. In Australia, new airline Airly is offer- ing unlimited private flights between Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney for members who pay a monthly fee. Airly is effectively a flying club, where several hundred members will pay a A$1,000 joining fee and then A$2,550 per month for unlimited flights be- tween Sydney’s Bankstown Airport and Melbourne’s Essendon Airport, as well as flights to Canberra. Travellers will fly on an eight- seater King Air 350 turboprop... Airly co-founder Luke Hampshire hopes to launch the private jet service later this year. “We are giving our members access to eight-seat private planes flying be- tween Australia’s busiest air routes for a flat monthly fee,” he said. Key points: • Unlimited private flights between Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney • Membership costs A$1,000, plus an extra A$2,550 per month • Flights will only operate out of sec- ondary airports. Hampshire is confident the conven- ience of flying with Airly will be worth the price. “We are going to save customers two hours per round trip, time usually spent in transit, looking for a car park, in a security line, holding, trying to get into Sydney or waiting to depart Sydney because of the congestion,” he said. “We really think we are going to turn air travel on its head for regular com- muters.” Overseas in the USA, the trend is better established... With United, for example, Economy Plus subscription customers can choose a membership for themselves, for a companion or for everyone in each res- ervation (up to eight companions). Some of the rules are: - Subscriptions are non-refundable and not transferable. - Subscriptions may be customised to benefit additional travellers on the same reservation as the subscriber. Travellers not covered by the subscription benefits are subject to additional charges. - Flights must be scheduled to depart within the subscription period. - Subscriptions may be upgraded at any time. - Subscriptions can be renewed 30 days prior to expiration. Meanwhile, On- eGo removes the hassle of tracking prices, comparing costs, or choosing inconvenient flights just to save money. Instead, users can pick flights based on convenience, airline preference, and what’s best for them - all for the same sum each month. Also in the US, Surf Air, which launched in 2013, sells an all-you-can-fly monthly subscription on an eight-seat turboprop for US$1,750 per month. The company, which began by flying business people between Southern California and Silicon Valley, is expanding to four other California cities, namely Santa Rosa, Monterey, Sacramento, and Palm Springs. It also wants to expand into Florida and Texas. HoboJet is a private-jet version of Uber. The company works with charter jet companies to sell empty seats on private planes at a discount. Because the deals tend to be last minute (often when a private plane is flying empty from one location to another to pick up passengers), the flights are one-way and discounts can be steep. Most flights start or end in Scottsdale, Arizona, but the company is working on adding more destinations. At Beacon: The former ceo of Surf Air wants to set up a similar subscrip- tion-based service on the US east coast. Flights are planned between New York, Boston, Nantucket and the Hamptons. Rather than owning its planes, like Surf Air, Beacon will partner with charter op- erators to arrange flights. Fees will start at A$2,000 per month for scheduled flights between small private airports. In Australia, new airline Airly is offering unlimited private flights between Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney for members who pay a monthly fee.