South African startup BeaconWorx plans to roll out the first part of its on-demand airplane hire platform by the end of the year.
Launched in 2015, BeaconWorx is in the process of developing and testing MiFlite, which has a central database onto which airplane owners can enter information on their respective airplanes in terms of location, availability and hire rate.
Users, like pilots wanting to book an airplane, can then access the information and book airplanes, while private charter companies will be able to upload empty seat information onto the platform to be booked by passengers.
Founder and chief executive officer Nico Louw told Disrupt Africa the “Hire and Fly” aspect of the platform should be live during the fourth quarter of this year, while the option to book empty seats will follow shortly after.
He said BeaconWorx was developing MiFlite given South Africa’s general aviation industry lacked a centralised platform for interaction between pilots, passengers and airplane owners.
“Pilots are always looking for airplanes to “Hire & Fly” towards hour-building if they are for instance a commercial Pilot wanting to become an Airplane Transport Pilot flying for the big commercial airlines,” Louw said.
“Passengers are sometimes looking for flight to destinations off the beaten track, which is the market that the commercial airlines don’t service and focus on. There are a lot of private charter airplanes that fly back empty when returning from, for example, Kruger National Park to drop off tourists. By making these “empty seats” visible, we solve the passenger dilemma and also provide the aircraft owner or private charter company with a platform to market and better utilise their airplanes and seats.”
He said airplane owners, especially private owners and training schools, want maximum utilisation of their airplanes by booking as many hours per month as possible to cover various costs and hopefully make a profit.
“The flying school where I am busy with my Private Pilot’s License has two airplanes for training and Hire and Fly, and requires a minimum of about 55 hours per month just to break even. With MiFlite we make them visible on a central platform so that they can be optimally utilised,” Louw said.
BeaconWorx is currently bootstrapping, and plans to make money via commissions on booked planes and seats, in-app purchases, and in-app advertising and marketing.
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