FLYT, a brand new digital helicopter booking service allowing customers to instantly view quotes from an extensive range of UK helicopter operators and book online via desktop, tablet or smartphone, is now live with the aim of lowering the cost of rotary travel and making it more accessible to a wider customer base.
FLYT is the brainchild of helicopter pilot and tech entrepreneur Andy King and SaxonAir co-founder James Palmer. Located at The London Heliport in Battersea and with a tech team in central Manchester, FLYT’s goal is to bring the same technology clients are now enjoying in the private jet sector to commercial helicopter bookings.
By working with operators to fill empty seats on shared charters, FLYT is also hoping to maximise revenue and utilisation for operators. Hitherto, seat sales on helicopters have not been the industry norm. Andy King said, “We believe the arrival of FLYT will encourage private owners whose machines are looked after by management companies to get on board and offset their operational costs with charter.”
“Only a helicopter will take you right where you want to go,” continued King, whose team will liaise with landowners on the 2,200 plus approved landing sites available in the UK. FLYT simply takes the site address requested and seeks landing approval with the operator.
The company will work with an ever-growing database of helicopter traffic, continually capturing and analysing thousands of recorded helicopter flights. This will enable FLYT to advise on realistic flight times and estimated costs in real-time.
FLYT is marketing directly to consumers, with a helicopter booking process which is simple and intuitive, delivering more choice, transparency, comparison and speed of booking than traditional methods. It is now working on a booking app and will be reaching out to lifestyle and sporting event partners, including luxury hotels with helipads, to support the platform.
How it works
The customer enters their journey details and FLYT calculates cost and approximate flight time
As soon as a request is made, the platform identifies the most suitable operator in real-time
The operator has the option to accept or reject. If they reject, a second choice of operator is notified, and so on
Once the operator is confirmed the customer is afforded full details, including where to meet the aircraft, and makes payment to complete the transaction
Industry charter brokers have not yet moved into helicopter charters in a big way before, because in the rotary world it is more complex and ultimately time-consuming to make bookings – it requires gathering critical information like passenger weight and landing site restrictions.
However, the continuing consolidation of the industry, which has seen leading private jet aviation companies like Luxaviation, Castle Air Group and SaxonAir offering up private jets and helicopters for a full end-to-end offering, it is the perfect time for FLYT’s launch.
FLYT has secured backing from significant investors including John Ayton MBE, Co-Founder of both Links of London and Annoushka and investor in the luxury industry, as well as mobile technology group Apadmi Ventures, which is also serving as strategic technical partner and EarlyMarket LLP.
Caroline Fuerstenberg, Managing Director of Earlymarket commented: “We were instantly excited by FLYT’s proposition. Their platform was already quite advanced when we met them, and it was clear to us that that they would have an immense appeal to helicopter travellers, given the existing inefficiencies. We also saw natural synergies amongst a few of our existing companies within our portfolio and identified a great opportunity to develop a partnership on future projects together.”
Howard Simms, CEO of Apadmi Ventures, believes that collaboration has been a key part of their success. He commented: “When we invest in market-disrupting start-ups, it’s because we believe in a management team who can combine dedication and detailed knowledge of the sector to turn their great idea into a reality. This is very evident with Flyt. They know aviation inside out and understand just how technology can revolutionise it for passengers. We’re delighted to be on-board, not just as investors but as strategic tech partners.”
Who’s who at FLYT
Andy King, CEO and Co-founder
Andy King is an experienced tech entrepreneur. He exited his last startup in 2015 to train as a commercial helicopter pilot but realising that the helicopter industry needed a modern platform through which to book a flight, developed the FLYT concept with co-founder James Palmer. Andy leads strategy and business development at the company. Andy holds a BSc Hons degree in Maths and Business from the University of East Anglia and has received leadership training at the world renowned Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
James Palmer, Co-founder, Aviation Director
James co-founded private jet and helicopter charter company SaxonAir Charter Ltd in 2007. During his nine-year tenure, he enjoyed senior management roles including Head of Ground Operations and Head of Quality. He also led the ground handling division, SaxonAir Flight Support Ltd. During this time, the company achieved a turnover in excess of £6m and grew to nearly 60 employees.
In addition to his extensive aviation knowledge and experience, James has a keen interest in IT and technology. Passionate about aviation since childhood, his vision is to create solutions that will enhance the industry’s productivity and effectiveness. It is this interest that led him to get involved with FLYT. James is FLYT’s business aviation expert and he will be liaising with operators, drawing on his operational expertise and network. James is also involved with programme management at the UK’s Atmospheric Research Aircraft at Cranfield.
James Matthews, Director and Chief Finance Officer
During his career, James has helped four start-ups raise over £9m in funding, built teams and launched innovative new technologies. He is a Chartered Management Accountant, Oxford law graduate and holds an MBA from INSEAD.
Howard Simms, Non-Executive Director and investor
Experienced technology expert Howard Simms co-founded leading UK mobile technology group Apadmi. Apadmi’s clients include the BBC, NHS, Argos, and United Utilities. Howard is currently CEO of Apadmi Ventures, the investment division of Apadmi. Apadmi Ventures acts as a Strategic Technical Partner dedicated to investing and growing highly scalable technology companies. At FLYT, Howard is helping develop the technical platform and roadmap. He holds a BSc in Maths from the University of Leeds.
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