Business aviation operators are often challenged by crew and aircraft shortages as they seek to scale up and meet rising air travel demand in the wake of the pandemic. With industry-wide staffing shortages, operators need to figure out how to attract pilots and other cabin crew — whether filling full-time positions or adding temporary positions to meet emergency dispatch needs.
Inspired by building technology-leading solutions, Alek Vernitsky and Alek Strygin co-founded Portside, which allows aircraft operators to share schedules, financial and maintenance data, and other critical Aircraft Information. Portside announced today that it has raised $50 million in a Series B funding round led by Insight Partners, with participation from existing investors including I2BF Global Ventures, bringing the total capital raised by the company to over $70 million.
Portside is Vernitsky and Strygin’s second venture after travel agency startup GetGoing, which they sold to business travel management company BCD Travel in 2016. GetGoing acquisitions.
“Portside provides an integrated platform and strives to be a one-stop shop for the flight department,” Vernitsky told TechCrunch via email. “As operators scale, they need technology to drive efficiencies. Portside’s product suite enables them to streamline workflows while getting the most out of their aviation assets.”
To this end, Portside provides tools that automatically assign crews and aircraft to a given schedule and standardize how business air travel is reported. Portside’s staffing marketplace gives employers access to a database of pilots and cabin crew, while a dedicated services app helps manage cabin crew accommodation. In addition to this, Portside maintains an operations management portal that helps to schedule and dispatch government, corporate and charter flights using existing aviation systems.
“Business jets are now more capable than ever before of moving more people over greater distances, which means more travel is now international and more complex from a logistical and regulatory standpoint,” Vernitsky continued Said. “Having an integrated system that combines operational, financial and maintenance data is now critical to a successful trip.”
Business has been good — even during the pandemic, Vernitsky said. It contributes to the rapid expansion of the business aviation market. A Honeywell survey released last October predicted that as many as 8,500 new business jets, valued at $274 billion, would be delivered from 2023 to 2032, up from a 10-year forecast a year earlier for both deliveries and spending 15%. Another poll — this one from Airbus — found that 89 percent of businesses with annual revenues of more than $500 million plan to increase their use of business aviation by 2023.
Why the strong growth? The Airbus poll offers some insight. Eighty-one percent of respondents said they are increasingly relying on business aviation during the pandemic, while 63 percent said they expect continued delays and cancellations in commercial aviation.
Whatever the reason, Portside has undoubtedly benefited from it. The company claims to currently support nearly 1,000 private, business and government aircraft operators in more than 30 countries. Vernitsky claims that there are more than 10,000 aircraft and more than 50,000 users on the Portside platform.
“Business aviation has grown tremendously during the pandemic, with Portside growing approximately 3x annually over the past few years. Business aviation is continuing to grow and we intend to continue developing innovative products for the industry,” Vernitsky said.
Funds from the latest funding round will be used to develop software and “further expand” Portside’s customer base and product portfolio, Vernitsky said. The startup currently has 110 employees and expects to grow to 150 by the end of this year.