The Wingly website
Private jets have long been the hallmark of the super-rich, but the founders of a Paris-based start-up want to make them accessible to the masses.
“It is too often perceived that aviation is just for the rich, but people don’t realise that private aviation ranges from large corporate jets (that are indeed very expensive) to smaller aviation that can cost around £100 for a one hour flight,” says Wingly co-founder Emeric de Waziers, 27.
“Our real aim at Wingly is to democratize aviation through making flying more accessible, to both pilots and passengers, by cost sharing flights.”
Wingly was launched four years ago, with the company entering “two industries at once” – the sharing and the private aviation industries – according to de Waziers.
Pilots sign up to the platform free of charge, with the aim of decreasing the cost of their flights through flying with other passengers.
The boom in the sharing economy was one of the driving factors for the trio of founders, de Waziers, Bertrand Joab-Cornu and Lars Klein. AirBnB, Blablacar and Getaround are all examples of sharing-based start-ups that have made their money in the past two decades. The sharing economy is projected to be worth around $335 billion by 2025.
“The sharing economy has exploded,” continues de Waziers, “but the aviation industry has not seen this kind of growth yet.”
de Waziers describes private aviation as having an “exciting moment”, with the arrival of new technologies such as electric planes and EVTOL (which means electrical vertical take-off and landing). “There is a lot to do and that’s why we are positioning Wingly within this market early on.”
The co-founders confronted numerous issues upon launching, namely legal issues in their home country of France. Wingly had to halt operations due to the legality of flightsharing.
“We had to do a lot of work within Europe to show that safety is a central concern for the company, and we proved what positive impact our company could have on the private aviation market,” de Waziers recalls. Wingly had to prove its pilots were not making a profit, and so were not classed as commercial pilots, before it could recommence operations.
Wingly’s pilots primarily sign up in order to gain more flight experience, and to lower the cost of flying, says de Waziers. Wingly’s co-founders also hope the company will help reduce the CO2 emissions of passengers travelling by private plane by filling the empty seats on those planes.
The company was endorsed by the EASA, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, and signed a charter with the union in 2016.
There are already a number of companies in the flight-sharing business, such as JetSuite, Blade and JetSmarter.
“Quite a few flight sharing platforms launched at the same time we did,” de Waziers continues, “but we thrived and became the biggest flight sharing platform in Europe.”
de Waziers attributes this to the company’s approach of trying to make flight prices as low as possible, while the company sees competitors such as flyvictor as “more of a future partner”.
Wingly currently has a team of 24, all working from Paris, and says the company’s aim over the next five years is to expand into the US and consolidate its growth in Europe.
“We want to be the central digital player in private aviation,” de Waziers adds, “and connect all kinds of aviation providers to the public, be it for leisure or business.”