OpenAirplane founder Rod Rakic said FlyOtto, as the new online matching service for aircraft charters is branded, aims to do for Part 135 operators much of what OpenAirplane has done for GA aircraft flown under Part 91 by clubs, flight schools, and individual owners: reduce their idle time, for one thing, and expand both utility and utilization.
“Many of the aircraft now available to travelers using FlyOtto are the same airframes that can be rented via OpenAirplane by pilots. But in order to hold out to the public, the airplane must be maintained using the more stringent protocols required by Part 135,” Rakic wrote. “Same goes for how the flights are conducted.”
The OpenAirplane concept was to make every pilot certificate more valuable, Rakic wrote, while FlyOtto seeks to do the same for public-use airports across the country.
“Now we're offering the same access to the over 5,000 destinations that pilots have, to everyone else,” Rakic wrote.
Customers can enter departure and destination desires on the homepage, and then choose from a list of aircraft available for hire, with prices (established according to rates provided advance by operators), aircraft capacity, and trip times listed. A recent search for travel from Hartford, Connecticut, to Chicago returned nine results, with prices ranging from $5,901 for a Piper Cheyenne able to carry five passengers up to $24,628 for a nine-passenger King Air that can make the same trip about 45 minutes faster. FlyOtto handles the booking and billing details, allowing travelers to charter aircraft with ease, from a mobile device or computer.
The platform is opening public access to city pairs that airlines do not serve, along with aircraft types not found in airline inventories, Rakic wrote.
“FlyOtto dramatically grows the variety of aircraft available to travelers. FlyOtto now offers a pick up in fixed wing aircraft across the continental U.S.,” Rakic wrote, noting helicopters can be chartered in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago, and New York, along with seaplanes operated out of New York, a list that the company plans to expand.
The company estimates an untapped market of 10 million people could be enticed to book regional air travel through the platform, and promises charter operators better aircraft utilization, and a streamlined process from booking to payment.
Rakic said OpenAirplane continues to grow as well.
“We're seeing month over month growth in hours flown. It's important to remember that almost all the flying we enable is incremental,” Rakic wrote. “Most of the demand we generate for rental is during the week, when most of the airframes would otherwise stay underutilized. We're enabling pilots to fly more, and get more value out of their credentials.”