Airbus-backed Blade thinks Asia is where the action is, with plans to expand there after this latest blank-check deal. Keep an eye on similar so-called SPAC deals in travel in the new year.
Flying taxi operator Blade will soon trade as a public company after merging with special purpose acquisition company Experience Investment Corp, valuing the company at $825 million.
New York-based Blade provides private charter transport via helicopters, seaplanes and jets around cities and to vacation destinations, as well other medical services.
Experience Investment Corp is sponsored by an affiliate of KSL Capital Partners. It closed its own initial public offering in September last year, raising $275 million. It plans to list its new venture, which will be called Blade Urban Air Mobility, on Nasdaq in the first half of 2021.
As well as short distance flights, Blade operates Blade Airport, Blade MediMobility, which transports human organs in the U.S., and International Joint Ventures, to help it expand in overseas markets with local partners.
Blade’s first international joint venture launched helicopter services late last year in India flying between Mumbai, Pune, and Shirdi.
As well as helping it expand its routes in the U.S. and Asia, Blade said the extra capital will accelerate its transition from the use of traditional helicopters to Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. According to Morgan Stanley Equity Research, urban air mobility is expected to be a $125 billion market by 2025 and grow to $650 billion over the next decade.
However, earlier this month Uber offloaded its air taxi enterprise Elevate to Joby Aviation. The deal included Uber investing $75 million into Joby and an expanded partnership between the two companies.
Blade’s CEO and co-founder is Rob Wiesenthal, the former chief financial officer at Sony corporation of America. Its investors include Airbus, IAC’s Barry Diller, iHeartMedia’s Robert Pittman and Discovery’s David Zaslav.
The tie-up is the latest travel sector development for these so-called SPACs, which are blank-check companies formed for the purpose of entering into a merger, capital stock exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses.
Earlier this month, blank-check company Thayer Ventures Acquisition Corp debuted on the stock market under the symbol TVACU.
Also on the hunt for opportunities in the travel industry is Altitude Acquisition, which also raised $300 million in an initial public offering in December. Altitude is run by CEO Gary Teplis, the top boss of corporate travel agency Teplis Travel.
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Photo credit: Blade provides private charter transport via helicopters, seaplanes and jets around cities and to vacation destinations, as well other transportation services. Blade