Beacon, an all-you-can-fly semi-private jet service scheduled to launch this summer, is 35-year-old father of two Wade Eyerly’s second—yes, second—foray into the private aviation market. His first venture was California-based Surf Air, which ferries passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco and nine other destinations for a $1,750 (base) monthly fee.
Eyerly is actually a Dallas, Texas resident, but he’s launching Beacon out of Westchester County Airport. Initially, Beacon will provide year-round service to Boston, plus seasonal service to The Hamptons and Nantucket, for $2,000 dollars per month plus $1,200 per additional family member. We caught up with Eyerly to wrap our heads around his business model and find out why he’s launching Beacon here.
So this isn’t your first go-around in the aviation industry?
Two of my co-founders and I were the original founders of Surf Air. We raised a lot of money really fast and brought in another CEO to run it. I left about a year ago, and the entire founding team was gone within a couple months of that. We had a lot of companies come to us looking to piggyback to clone the model in different parts of the world, and as we started giving advice to those guys and girls. We were giving advice a little differently than how we did it, and the more we did that, the more we realized the opportunity to do it a little differently and a little bit better. So we decided to move it to the East Coast and do it again.
So Beacon is going to be flying out of Westchester only?
At launch it will just be out of Westchester.
We did a pretty exhaustive review of the area airports and ways to get access to the New York market. For a service that wants to be scheduled, I needed to be able to make sure I can get there at two o’clock if I say that’s when I’ll be there, and Westchester is so much more reliable. It’s been a great airport to work with.
Two vacation destinations and Boston; how will this work?
Boston to New York is the cereal, and the Hamptons and Nantucket are the toys in the cereal box. The core of what we do is fly executives to New York and Boston. During the summer, those same members have a ton of demand [to fly out to] the Hamptons, et cetera. And we’re happy to do that, but the core of what we do is to get you back and forth to New York and Boston, and we’ll probably add Washington, DC, in the future.
How is it structured?
It’s month-to-month after a 90-day contract. The economics of it work no different than other subscription companies. Our revenues are known, and we have to operate below a level that fits that revenue cap. It’s not dissimilar to how Netflix used to work, when you had four DVDs in your house at once—you can hold four [flight] reservations at once. Just like with Netflix…we give you that rolling four. You can book all four flights today, but couldn’t fly tomorrow’s flight until you flew the first of those original four.
What would be the average net worth of someone using this service?
We have corporate buyers, so in Westchester and Greenwich we get hedge funds, consulting agencies, et cetera, but for individual users average income is around $400,000 to $500,000.
When are you launching?
Our first flights will go up this summer. We’re working with operators who need clearance from the FAA to operate the way we want them to, so it takes time.
How many flights per day?
Ten-plus flights daily. We want to know that we can meet demand. So the core of the business—New York to Boston—if we run 18-24 flights per day, we’re running flights every hour. We’re ramping up to that.
And what about security?
We’ll do a background check on our members. One of the advantages of flying private is that the TSA doesn’t traditionally screen private flights out of Westchester. Boston’s Logan is different; Massport requires you to walk through a magnetometer on your way out to the tarmac. But you’ll be able to get to the airport 15 minutes before your flight.
App to go along with it?
Absolutely. You’ll be able to book and cancel in 30 seconds. We just need to know when you want to go, where you want to go, and which flight you want to get on. It’s very quick, very simple, very straightforward, but very robust. You can book, get on the wait list for flights that are filled, you can watch flights to see if they’re starting to fill up.