Blade raises $38 million, partners with Airbus
It has been a busy week for Blade. The privately-owned online helicopter charter company has raised $38 million from its second round of financing and has partnered with Airbus to manage the Airbus Ride helicopter service in Dallas.
The capital was raised from Blade’s financial backers, including Airbus, real-estate investment firm Colony NorthStar and venture capital firms Lerer Hippeau and LionTree Partners.
Proceeds from this financing will be put towards expanding Blade’s core routes and help rollout the service on new markets.
Eric Hippeau, managing partner of Lerer Hippeau said: “Blade has created a very desirable and highly recognized brand by offering a compelling aviation experience to a new generation of fliers–and its world-class booking platform and strong aviation operator technologies remain unmatched. We look forward to the team continuing to build upon their success in new markets both in the U.S. and abroad.”
Blade charters flights on 22 core routes across seven different states and utilises a mixed fleet of helicopters, seaplanes, turboprops and jets.
From here on, Airbus Ride will be co-branded with Blade. Blade is being brought on board to provide new technology solutions and on-the-ground customer-experience management to the Ride service for its Dallas flights.
The partnership is considering expanding the Ride service outside of the US – with further announcements coming this year.
Airbus Ride is a booking service that contracts Part 135 charter flights on Airbus Helicopters. Right now, it contracts flights at major events, including short flights around sports events and music concerts.
Matthieu Louvot, executive vice president of customer support and services for Airbus Helicopters said: “Airbus Helicopters continues to develop the future of the urban air mobility (UAM) market, and our alliance with Blade is the next logical step in our quest to offer customers the full spectrum of urban air travel solutions.”
Blade does not operate its own fleet but utilises existing helicopter and Jet fleets to fly both internal and city-to-city flights across the US.
Blade was established with the goal of eventually chartering eVTOL charter flights when the technology is fully established. With Airbus developing its own eVTOL – the Vahana – and buying up other city charter services with eVTOL aspirations such as Voom, the partnership makes sense.
Mr Louvot added: “By partnering with Blade, we are setting a strong foundation for the future, which will be the successful deployment of electronic vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) systems.”