For New York-based Blade Air Mobility, the global pandemic hasn’t halted revenues for the helicopter booking platform, according to figures reported during the company’s earnings call yesterday. The news bodes well for the company, which has previously stated its commitment to transition from using helicopters to eVTOL aircraft starting in 2025.
Blade closed 2021 with US$67.2 in total revenues — an increase of 156% compared to 2020, and 106% compared to pre-COVID 2019. The company ended its fourth quarter with $24.6 million in revenues, an increase of 208% from the same period in 2020.
Rob Wiesenthal, co-founder and CEO of Blade, said the company’s financial standing at the end of last year “significantly exceeded our expectations. Our ability to accelerate revenue and flight profit growth in the face of a dynamic COVID landscape is a testament to the financial breadth of our business lines and the flexibility of our asset-light model.”
Will Heyburn, Blade’s chief financial officer, said he believes the “re-introduction of Blade Airport service and acquisition of Helijet’s passenger routes … also contributed to the positive year-over-year comparison.”
The company reported a limited impact to its Blade Airport and Vancouver businesses in the first quarter of this year, citing the Omicron variant as the cause, but Heyburn said as the COVID situation improves, the company doesn’t expect a negative impact to revenues this quarter.
“Given positive trends, including [the] elimination of the New York mask mandate [yesterday], increased return-to-office, as well as growing commercial airline bookings, we expect any impact to be short-lived,” he said in a press release.
Wiesenthal said the company navigated through the pandemic by investing in areas that were largely unaffected by the crisis — in particular, its MediMobility organ transport and jet division.
“These business lines have helped offset the volatility in [the] short distance [business] and performed extremely well throughout the pandemic, contributing to our strong growth in revenues while delivering consistent flight margins,” he said during the earnings call.
Blade’s MediMobility organ transport and jet revenues increased by 227% to $18 million in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. The company said this was driven by the addition of new hospital and jet clients, as well as its acquisition of Trinity Air Medical in September.
At the time, Wiesenthal said organ transportation flights could provide an opportunity to trial eVTOL flights and evaluate the noise and performance of the vehicles before launching them in passenger services.
When it comes to trialing eVTOL flights, during the earnings call, Wiesenthal remarked on plans to work with its partner Beta Technologies to conduct a joint flight test of Beta’s piloted Alia-250 eVTOL in the greater New York area.
Wiesenthal expects the flight test, which could take place as early as the second quarter of this year, to “exhibit not only the progress that has been made, but also the near silent nature of this next-generation aircraft in flight.”
Blade’s partnership with Beta goes back to at least last April when Blade agreed to pre-order up to 20 of Beta’s six-seat Alia aircraft. The eVTOLs will join Blade’s fleet in 2024 after the aircraft is certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.