Don’t complain to Nick Kennedy about security hassles or flight delays. He’s seen worse while flying more than 2 million miles in the past decade.
And as frustrating as many of those commercial flights were, the worst part was the time it cost him with his family in Preston Hollow.
That’s the primary reason that – despite having no experience in the aviation industry – Kennedy decided to launch Rise, an entrepreneurial venture starting in December at Love Field that tailors private flights to frequent business travelers for a monthly fee.
“It wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my wife and three kids. It was literally breaking my heart to be gone from them on a regular basis,” Kennedy said. “We’re going to allow an executive to have breakfast with their kids, fly for a lunch meeting, and be back in time for soccer practice.”
The company will fly its scheduled daily service to Houston and Austin using private Beechcraft turboprop planes. Each plane will have eight luxury seats and two pilots.
Perhaps best of all, the flights leave from a private terminal with concierge service, which eliminates the need to find parking, go through complex security procedures, worry about baggage headaches, or engage in small talk.
Kennedy said Rise will do background checks on passengers before they fly, and will utilize valet parking on-site. A few minutes later, passengers will be walked out to the plane.
“It takes away all that friction on the front and the back end,” Kennedy said. “It’s not inexpensive but it’s accessible. Our company exists to fix people’s problems.”
As far as pricing, think of a Netflix model. Customers pay a fee of at least $1,650 per month (higher price points have added amenities) for as many flights as they want. There’s no long-term commitment after 90 days.
“I can save some money at the end of the day, and save a lot of time and headaches,” said Brandon Bolin, a real-estate developer who splits time between Dallas and Austin. “It’s a niche, for sure, but it’s for people like me. It has a boutique feeling. I think it will really take off.”
Kennedy expects to be sold out of “founding memberships” by the time the first flight takes off. Then he’ll start a waiting list.
“We’re on a very fast timetable,” he said. “We’ll be the first airline in the history of airlines to be launched profitably.”
Although Rise is based at Love Field, the flights will operate based on customer demand, and that includes potential expansion to other cities in the future. Rise already is planning weekend getaways to destinations such as Marfa; Seaside, Fla.; and Vail, Colo.
“If the demand is there, then we’ll do it. We will go where our members want us to go,” Kennedy said. “We’re going to let the numbers tell us where to go next. We think there’s an opportunity for strong growth.”