Short of purchasing a private jet, business travellers in Australia have two main choices: Qantas or Virgin Australia. Both airlines offer frequent services between the major Australian capitals, as well as frequent flyer perks like lounges. But regular delays and lengthy travel times to and from our major airports can be a problem.

An Australian start-up aims to provide a solution. “Airly” promises to offer unlimited travel between Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra on 8-seater aircraft for a fixed monthly fee.

Pay $1K to join and about $30K p.a. for unlimited flights between SYD/MEL/CBR, with ADL and BNE later down the track, using an 8-seater Beechcraft turboprop. Target for 54 flights per week on start up, fly when you want in the schedule with no cancellations and will operate with only one person on the flight.

Airly’s main selling point is the time savings and hassle-free experience offered. The airline will use secondary airports in both Sydney and Melbourne, with Bankstown and Essendon airports favoured over the cities’ main international airports. Plus, flyers will only need to be at the airport 15 minutes before departure.

A similar business model has already proven successful in the United States, but will it work in Australia?

While some jet-setting members say they would consider signing up in the future, not everyone is convinced. Firstly, our members point out that the small aircraft being used is both slower and noisier than the jet aircraft used by the existing commercial airlines. Secondly, they agree that Bankstown Airport is not as convenient as Sydney Int’l for travellers heading into Sydney’s CBD. And although the airline promises that members will be guaranteed a seat on any flight, one member questions what would happen if more than 8 passengers turned up for one flight.

Interesting business idea, the pricing is fair if indeed they can guarantee any-time availability (how they are going to do that on Mondays and Thursdays is anyone’s guess).

Some issues: BWU [Bankstown] location. Most potential customers will commute to/from SYD CBD. The planes they ordered don’t really provide the most comfortable flying experience, especially in bad weather.

Some members would also be reluctant to give up their frequent flyer points and status benefits that can be gained by flying on commercial airlines. While they may not be needed when flying on the routes served by Airly, they can come in handy when flying to other destinations or overseas.

If you did fly that much to warrant the expense then compared to equivalent gained status on the regular airlines it is less appealing. You have fly forward and priority boarding (albeit from secondary airports!) but no lounge access (what if there is a delay due to weather) and no status for international travel.

Join the discussion HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]