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Flying over the Alps
Flying over the Alps
Ghislaine Bloch

VISP — A startup from the Swiss canton of Valais has developed a smartphone app that enables users to book seats in helicopters, private planes or even business jets.

Swiss and Austrian companies, including Air Glaciers, Air Zermatt, Swiss Helicopter, Mountainflyers, Heli-West, Heli-Bernina and Heli-Austria are already offering more than 100 flights through the app, called MyAirSeat and available for free on Apple's App Store and the Google Play store.

Air Zermatt pilots Alexander Burger and Thomas Phammatter founded the startup in 2015. Their idea was for passengers to share flying costs and thus travel at reduced rates. MyAirSeat takes a 5% percentage.

"There are unoccupied seats left on almost every private plane because there's a lack of communication between flight companies and potential clients," says Burger. "A 20-minute flight in a helicopter costs 900 Swiss francs ($910) if you're the only passenger. That price falls to 220 francs ($222) if it's full."

Launched in late February, the app already offers 130 flights — to enjoy seeing the Alps from above, obviously, but also trips abroad, for example to Marina di Campo on the island of Elba, to Corsica, southern France or Austria. "We didn't think we'd have that much success in just two weeks," Burger says.

MyAirSeat is hoping to attract 7,000 passengers this year, 21,000 next year, and 100,000 in 2018.

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