Airbnb, the room-sharing app, have recently hired ex Virgin-America CEO, Fred Reid, to work on what is, at the moment, an undisclosed ‘transportation project’ The move follows statements by Airbnb, in which they stated ‘no plans’ to enter the transportation industry.
Who exactly is Fred Reid?
Fred Reid formerly held the title of CEO with Virgin founded airline, Virgin America, serving 8.5m passengers in 2018, prior to the airlines sale to Alaska Airlines in April 2018. Previous to his time with Virgin America, Reid served as president of Delta Airlines and Lufthansa as well as heading Cora Aircraft- An air taxi divison of Kitty Hawk (Flying Car Company)
With such heavily focused experience in Aviation, does this hint the hire gives Airbnb a first-class ticket into the airline industry?
So is this the rise of Airbnb Airlines?
Following the hire of Reid, rumours were quick to circulate that Airbnb Airlines was forthcoming, but CEO Brian Chesky was quick to deny this stating:
“I’m not interested in building our own airline or creating just another place on the Internet where you can buy a plane ticket, but there is a tremendous opportunity to improve the transportation experience for everyone,” – Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO
Following Chesky’s statement, a new wave of rumours circulated centred around the idea that Airbnb is set to become a more equally disruptive service for the airline and holiday travel industry- perhaps extending to not only finding competitive seats on flights, but also car rentals (People offering lifts like Uber or renting out their vehicles like Turo), bus and boat transportation, hotels, restaurants and more. According to an inside source, Airbnb is upscaling their app to include more than just competitive room prices.
“Realizing those opportunities will take years and require constant experimentation” – Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO
Viable or Vision?
Airbnb was recently valued at over $31 billion USD, more than airlines and even some smaller manufacturers in the aviation industry; With such magnitude behind them, Airbnb is certainly capable of achieving such a goal, but it is a risk. Regardless, Chesky is quick to remind us once again that:
“Realizing those opportunities will take years and require constant experimentation”
– Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO
So it could be a while before we see this project take up slack and build traction in the market.
Are you a user of Airbnb? Have an opinion on this news? Then let us know in the comments below. Is it viable or visionary for Airbnb to enter the transportation market?