Silicon Valley-based Blackbird Air Inc., is commonly compared to Uber because it offers ride-sharing in the sky, but CEO Rudd Davis says the company is more of a hybrid of ride-sharing, charter flights and scheduled flights. The Blackbird app ties them together.
Blackbird does not own airplanes. It contracts with charter airlines to fill seats. Based in Palo Alto, Blackbird offers flights from that airport to the Truckee Tahoe Airport and Santa Monica; and between Sausalito and Tahoe City via seaplane (these seaplane flights are on hold during the winter season, according to Blackbird).
With economic ties between Reno and Silicon Valley increasing, Davis sees significant opportunities for business passengers with regular flights between Palo Alto and Reno.
Doug Erwin, vice president entrepreneurial development at Economic Development Authority of Northern Nevada, told the NNBW that there's been a perception that technology companies only invest along the Interstate 280 and Highway 101 corridor in Silicon Valley.
Increasing connections among the tech communities will benefit northwestern Nevada, and what Blackbird is doing will enhance those connections.
"I really like some of those out-of-the-box ideas," Erwin said, referring to the Blackbird model.
The seed for Blackbird came a few years ago while Davis — a serial entrepreneur who sold his last startup, a data analysis company, to Groupon — was training for a pilot's license.
Flying in and out of smaller airports, he noticed charter air companies with planes on the ground just waiting for someone to charter the whole aircraft.
"They're not allowed to sell on a per-seat basis," he told the NNBW. "It's not really their business. They rent the whole aircraft. That's a (financial) barrier to most people."
He saw an opportunity to fill seats in airplanes while providing a cost-effective, less stressful travel option for passengers.
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