Private Travel Perks
A new Texas startup hopes to save super-commuters from the hassles of airports with the convenience of private flights. Texas Air Shuttle is stepping into the growing Uberization of the sky with all-you-can-fly memberships beginning in February.
The Conroe-based company, with headquarters at Lone Star Executive Airport, is the creation of founder and CEO Steve Geldmacher, who was fed up with the way airlines nickel-and-dimed commuters and wasted their time.
“It came about thinking, ‘What if we designed an airline from the ground up that addressed the issues?’” he says. “There are no hidden fees. The other aspect is that all of our members are treated as VIPs. It’s an essential experience to drive up plane-side with your car, the concierges load your bags and you get first-class seating.”
Texas Air Shuttle’s Beechcraft King Air 200s seat seven, and the base membership is $2,850 per month for unlimited flights.
Texas Air Shuttle’s Beechcraft King Air 200s seat seven, and the base membership is $2,850 per month for unlimited flights. Users can select flights through the website or the upcoming app as close to 15 minutes before takeoff, Geldmacher says.
The company is launching with 18 flights per day, on routes between Conroe in North Houston, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio. Geldmacher wants to keep things slow at first to ensure that service is top-notch, and, to that end, the company owns all of its planes and trains its staff in-house.
But after things take off, Texas Air Shuttle plans to grow aggressively into 41 cities in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas, including New Orleans, Little Rock and Laredo, as well as smaller cities.
“A lot of these cities are harder to get to and might have one flight a day,” Geldmacher says. “We’re looking at four to eight for some of these places. Obviously, oil and gas companies are a big target for us.”
Geldmacher says that even with competition from Dallas-based Rise in the Texas market, he believes there’s room for multiple services that cater to super-commuters.
“The Dallas-to-Houston route is the largest super-commuter route in terms of flying,” he says. “There are almost 500,000 people a week, and Austin and San Antonio are top five. Southwest started with those markets, and it’s no secret as to why. There’s a huge need for the commuter.”
As the company grows, it has plans to introduce the Cessna Citation Bravo jet to its lineup for longer journeys. In all, Geldmacher estimates that using Texas Air Shuttle will save commuters two hours per trip on average.
“People forget how it adds up,” he says. “Our customers, they get that and understand the value. They’re more time-sensitive than price-sensitive, and if they can pick up a couple of extra hours, it saves time and money.”