Nick Magliocchetti, CEO of Waves, reckons that the future of travel may see the combination of big data, and AI, enabling us to travel by light aircraft. He spoke to Fresh Business Thinking about how aviation is about to be transformed by technology.
For many of us, when we think of a private jet, we think of opulence, luxury, maybe even James Bond asking for a Dry Martini, but smaller aircraft do have another big advantage over the large scheduled aircrafts, and that is that they can get you closer to your destination.
“There are over 350 airfields in the UK, over 800 across Europe, and there are probably ten within ten minutes traveling time of where you live,” Nick said.
So that is one big advantage: convenience.
But there is one obvious snag – the cost of private aviation is expensive.
Suppose, however, technology can be used to marry up travelers wanting to travel at about the same time – a kind of plane pooling service. The cost could be split over all the travelers.
The idea is not dissimilar from the rationale behind uberPool. It is thought that in the smart cities of the near future, buses will change their routes, depending on where customers are and what they want at that particular moment. Maybe in the era or smartphones, big data, and AI we can apply the same idea to the air, smart skies perhaps, and air taxis on demand.
And then, in theory, we may have the best of both worlds, access to myriad of smaller airports, flying you much closer to your end destination, but you won’t need a wallet bursting with money to pay for it.
That is the big idea at Waves, providing an on-demand air taxi service using Cessna Caravans.
We are using technology to anticipate what the customer needs,” says Nick. So that makes the company a bit like Amazon, the customer is, as it were, the centre of the company’s gravity, it is just that for Amazon, the business is about goods – mainly, although cloud services do come into it – for Waves it is about the sky.
“Using our technology, the client creates the demand.”
It is not even a new idea, it is just that it is new when applied to aviation. We live in the era of the customer-centric organisation; product-centric companies may be dying. The customer gets what he/she wants, rather than what a company is good at producing. And now it seems that aviation is set to see some customer centricity.
What about new technologies, such as Hyperloop, they may transform the way we travel over a few hundred miles? “The snag with Hyperloop,” Nick explained, “is the infrastructure, it is highly capital intensive, something that the government, at a location, may action.”
And for the smaller aircraft, the infrastructure already exists – that’s the airfields. Unlike with travel by car, train or hyperloop, you don’t need to build anything extra – no needs to construct roads in the sky.
“Connecting smaller airfields is the future,” he says.
To kick off with, Waves is focusing on the Channel Islands. “The Channel Islands are the perfect place to launch” claims Waves, which is attempting to raise money via Seedrs. Nick says “Travelling between the Channel Islands is one of the most expensive per mile flights in the world and with only one scheduled airline now operating, the prices are rising and the number of flights reducing.”
And so maybe then, the future of travel over a few hundred miles is plane pooling. An idea to watch out for, even to look up to.