General aviation pilots know the attraction of private aviation. Go where you want, when you want. Fellow earthlings without a pilot certificate have fewer options. Car, bus, train or airline. That’s about it.
FlyOtto, from the creators of OpenAirplane, give our non-pilot neighbors the same flexibility we pilots enjoy. Even better, it’ll bring business to our segment of the aviation economy. This isn’t a Part 121 airline versus Part 135 charter choice. This is car or bus or train versus Part 135.
“FlyOtto unlocks thousands of airports you may not even know exist, that are often closer to you and your destination than the big airports your spend so much time in,” states the FlyOtto website. “Using more efficient airplanes, on-demand, we offer an experience that saves you time and hassle.”
Making the airport more valuable
“The idea for FlyOtto came from the many operators we spoke with about OpenAirplane,” said Rod Rakic, co-founder and CEO of OpenAirplane. “They are happy to have people renting their aircraft, but they also wanted to grow their charter business.”
An airplane sitting on the ramp isn’t making money. A happy client, using a local airport, is good business and increases the value of the airport.
Apparently, the idea couldn’t have come soon enough. FlyOtto went live on Sept. 14 and they’ve already booked “dozens of flight.”
“Using a Cessna 310, a women flew her Mom and Dad from Kenosha, Wisc., to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan,” said Scott Murphy, CMO of FlyOtto. “It was their first time ever in a GA airplane on a trip ideally suited for GA. Her parents didn’t want to drive and the airlines didn’t work.”
“As you well know, living in the Pacific Northwest, the 60 mile trip from Olympia to Seattle on Interstate 5 often stretches to two hours,” noted Rakic. “A business owner is testing FlyOtto for him and up to four of his employees. They’ll use an operator’s Skyhawks or Stationairs.”
In either case, the trip drops to 30 minutes, give or take. One hour versus four. No contest.
Cheaper than a first class ticket
When FlyOtto builds out density with more operators at more airports, the prices should drop. But for now, “we’re cheaper than a first class ticket,” noted Rakic.
As more operators sign on, there will be fewer repositioning flights, he noted. “Travelers pay for those re-positioning flights.”
The root argument is, “what is your time worth?”
New Jersey to Martha’s Vineyard
Let’s say you and two business associates need to be in Martha’s Vineyard for a 10 am meeting that is scheduled for two hours, followed by lunch. You need to be in Martha’s Vineyard for four hours, max.
By car (plus a ferry) from New York to Martha’s Vineyard is 278 miles, which is a little over six hours of travel time. One way. To be ready — and fresh — for your meeting, you better leave the day before, budget for time away from the office, lodging and food. Once your meeting/lunch is done, you get to look forward to driving six-plus hours home. Two solid days invested for four hours.
Airline is an option. Catch the 6 a.m. flight from Newark, New Jersey, which connects through Boston and arrives in Martha’s Vineyard at 9 a.m. You could probably make the 2:15 p.m. flight back to New Jersey. That’ll get you home at 7:13 pm.
But to be safe — in case lunch goes long — you book the 5:40 p.m. flight which arrives at 10:01 p.m. Good news is, it is a one-day trip. Bad news is, it’ll start really early in the morning and end late at night. Your airfare will be $1,749 for the three of you.
Booking a Cessna 182 Skylane via FlyOtto, you can leave at 8 a.m. and arrive at 9:40 a.m. Depart for home at 3:15 p.m. and arrive a few minutes after 5 p.m. That lines up with a more typical business day. Cost is $1,715.
Continue the conversation
We’ve all been asked, “Can you fly me to [insert location here] this weekend for [reason]?”
If you couldn’t, for whatever reason, the conversation most often ended there. Now, when your friends ask and you can’t (or don’t want to) do it, you can say, “Go check out FlyOtto.”