Air mobility group Ascent is launching AirborneX as an online platform where helicopter owners can offer their aircraft to other operators under dry leases (without flight crew). According to the Singapore-based group, the service provides a way to increase aircraft utilization and revenues in the face of market disruption caused by the Covid crisis.
“Some operators are flying more than ever now, but others are not flying at all, so we’ve set up a system to make it easier to lease aircraft; it’s like Airbnb for helicopters,” explained Ascent CEO and founder Lionel Sinai-Sinelnikoff. Ascent vets companies and individuals listing aircraft to verify that they are the legal owners, but any lease arrangements are conducted under the liability of the lessor and the lessee.
The platform has just launched in beta format with a limited number of listings. Ascent aims to take listings from helicopter owners worldwide and to prioritize expansion in the U.S. market. Eventually, it may seek to add fixed-wing aircraft.
According to Sinai-Sinelnikoff, there are significant geographical fluctuations in demand, and he believes that AirborneX will give both aircraft owners and prospective lessees greater visibility on options. For instance, he said that an Airbus H125 aircraft based in the Australian state of Queensland is currently likely to be flying around three times as much as the same model based in Victoria.
“Under our system, it will be possible to offer an aircraft for lease over any period of time,” he explained to AIN. “This is more efficient than using a broker because we can give more complete visibility in real-time and also looking ahead for future availability.”
Initially, the subscription-based system will let owners offer one aircraft for free or pay $199 per month to list an unlimited number of aircraft for as long as they want.