Targeting “premium” leisure travelers, California-based startup and public charter provider Aero has added a second destination since launching its first route from Van Nuys Airport (KVNY) to Aspen-Pitkin County Airport (KASE) in Colorado in early February. Started by Uber co-founder Garrett Camp, Aero’s newest destination is Napa County Airport (KAPC) in the Napa Valley wine country. Aero’s wholly-owned subsidiary, USAC Airways 695, serves as the direct carrier while Aero is the indirect air carrier.
Using Embraer ERJ-135s in black livery, Aero aims to provide the “discerning” leisure traveler an experience opposite of what they would get on a commercial flight but at less cost than a traditional private jet charter. One-way fares are $1,250 to Aspen and $1,000 to Napa. “We believe air transport has become really commoditized at all points across the value chain,” Aero CEO Uma Subramanian told AIN. “There’s nothing really magical about the experience. The journey is something you have to suffer through to get to your fabulous final destination.”
On Aero, the journey matters, Subramanian said. Passengers check in to Aero flights at FBOs such as Signature Flight Support at KVNY, bypassing the congestion of commercial airports and TSA screening. Once aboard, they are assigned one of 16 hand-stitched Italian leather window seats in a first-class configuration. The cabin also features a custom sound system and bespoke lighting.
Subramanian said the February launch of seasonal service to Aspen, which so far will continue through mid-May, was successful and, as a result, it is planning additional route expansion for later this spring. “We’re focusing on building out a routing map in the U.S. and Europe,” Subramanian said. “I believe that late 2021 and early 2022 could be an insane rebirth in leisure travel. The demand is super strong and the market is ready.”
For the past two summers, Aero has provided its “semi-private” public charter seasonal service in Europe from a base at Farnborough Airport in the UK to destinations such as Nice, France; Naples, Italy; and the islands of Ibiza and Mykonos.