Sipping coffee and finishing breakfast I get my phone, click the button once and my taxi is ordered. In 4 minutes I am getting in my car with a driver offering me a bottle of water and asking for the music I would like to listen during the ride. This is how a morning routine looks like thanks to Uber. 5 minutes ago you were still reading Facebook news in your kitchen, and then you are already comfortably traveling to the point of your destination. Uber has become a real breakthrough. And for many people, just like me, it has changed the way we perceive taxi service.
But now, imagine for a second that while sipping your morning coffee you could just take your phone and in one click order your private jet. 50€ automatically taken from your card and you are already on your way to Berlin, chatting with a joyful pilot and overlooking your city from an angle you have never seen it before. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
But it is absolutely not a dream anymore. A flying service has already been created. It is just not popularised yet. Flying on a private jet for 50€ is a reality anybody has the opportunity to experience.
The new service is called Skyuber and it is focused on an idea of sharing cost of the flight between pilots and passengers. Although the name sounds similar, Skyuber has no connection with Uber and has different owners.
The process of ‘skyubering’ is quite easy. Pilots register in the application and share the flights they are planning to have. Then anybody willing to join the pilot is able to book his seat in the plane.
The aircrafts are usually GA or LSA aeroplanes and can fit two to four people inside. Once the booking is made the passenger is able to contact the pilot and arrange the meeting.
A BBC journalist has tried a flight with Skyuber himself and not all of his impressions were positive. As price for the flight is very low, the aircraft is really small and it has neither toilets nor air conditioning.
However, there is a contradictive point highlighted by various online articles. It is claimed that Skyuber is not completely legal. After checking on the issue by myself I was surprised to find the following information on the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s page: “This aims to allow cost sharing between friends and colleagues and not to provide an air taxi service to members of the public.” Therefore, the way Skyuber is operating in the UK remains a mystery for me. But it does operate there. I easily check this by downloading the app to my phone and seeing a flight to Glasgow.
Nevertheless, the main question is not about legality. It is obviously about safety. And what Skyuber states regarding safety regulations knocks me out. Skyuber claims to be just a booking medium and individual pilots are the ones responsible for safety. Skyuber just checks the license, medical certificates and documents for the aircraft. Then, the pilot decides if the aircraft is not broken and if the flight can be safe. Does not sound reassuring, does it? Last year’s incident with a Lufthansa’s plane crash comes to mind. A suicidal pilot just decided to make everybody join him on his plans. And it was a huge airline company. Who knows which kind of pilot you will be lucky enough to have with Skyuber.
Still and all, there are currently around 1,400 pilots operating, and around 7,000 would-be passengers. So not everybody is scared of taking risks. Would you?
Ben (2015), Skyuber, Love Air Aviation & Aerospace, Available at: http://www.loveair.co.uk/blog/skyuber/.
Civil Aviation Authority, Guidance on cost sharing and introductory flights, Available at: https://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=224&pagetype=90&pageid=16888.
Pereira J.P. (2015), Catching a lift on a private plane, BBC, Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-34544208.