JetSmarter raises AED385 million for Uber-like services in the sky

JetSmarter, which operates an Uber-like network that connects travellers to empty seats on chartered planes, raised $105 million (around AED 385 million) in its latest funding round, indicating that the startup has managed to make the concept work where others have failed. The company, which currently offers about 50 routes between more than 30 cities around the world, plans to use the cash injection to expand into Asia, South America and Africa, said founder and Chief Executive Officer Sergey Petrossov. His goal is to add another 80 routes within the next year. JetSmarter’s ride-sharing model offers empty seats on privately chartered planes to other passengers, helping lower costs and in theory attract more customers. Traditionally, 35 per cent of private jets fly empty, according to Petrossov, which made the system highly inefficient and expensive. Other startups with similar models have shut down, with some blaming high costs and onerous regulations. BlackJet, originally backed by Uber co-founder Garrett Camp, closed its doors earlier this year after running short on cash and failing to win enough users. Beacon and Airpooler also ended operations and Flytenow was shut down by the Federal Aviation Administration late in 2015. (Jing Cao/Bloomberg)

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