Wingly gets off the ground

A new plane sharing agency, Wingly allows passengers to book cheap seats on small aircraft and helps amateur pilots lower their costs.

Take a flight from Augsburg to Sylt or from Essen to Rostock – or simply spend an hour circling the skies above the Rhineland: Wingly’s website offers a range of speedy connections and unusual excursions. A Franco-German start-up, its aim is to hook up amateur pilots and passengers.

The company, which has been offering flights in Germany since the beginning of 2016, is therefore operating in a somewhat exclusive sector – though the principle itself is very much in line with current trends. The “sharing economy” is all about letting people share things they already own, ideally reducing the costs for both parties. Flat and car sharing schemes are already enjoying a fair degree of success in Germany. Generally speaking, suppliers are hooked up with consumers on a website that allows the latter to find an offer that suits their particular needs. Both parties review one another afterwards, which helps generate confidence and trust in the system. The website operators often charge a small commission.

Sharing costs and satisfying curiosity

Amateur pilots now also have the chance to benefit from the sharing economy. They have to make regular flights in order to accumulate enough flying hours, but this has always made it a very expensive hobby. The people behind Wingly calculate that they could save up to 75 percent of these costs if they could fill their empty seats with paying passengers. And the passengers themselves would have the opportunity to satisfy their curiosity and take a flight in a private plane – or with a bit of luck even find just the right connection from one regional airport to another. More flights will have to be on offer before the idea really takes off on a wider scale, however.

An hour’s flight currently costs roughly 50 to 100 euros on the Wingly website. It is unlikely to become much more expensive either, as amateur pilots are only allowed to pass on the approximate costs to their passengers. Otherwise Wingly’s sharing economy would simply become a standard agency-based transaction. Co-founder Lars Klein did not come up with the idea by chance: “We ourselves are passionate pilots and passengers and want to give others the chance to enjoy this fascinating experience.”