Portside lands $50M to help manage business aviation
Commercial aviation operators are often faced with crew and aircraft shortages as they try to meet the surging post-pandemic demand for air travel.
With industry-wide staffing shortages, operators must figure out how to attract pilots and other crew members.
It’s filling open full-time positions or adding temporary positions to meet pressing scheduling needs.
Inspired to create a technologically advanced solution, Alek Vernitsky and Alek Strygin co-founded Portside, which enables aircraft operators to share schedules.
Financial and maintenance data and other key aircraft information with owners, banks and insurance companies via a web portal.
Portside announced today that it has raised $50 million in a Series B funding round led by Insight Partners.
Participation from existing investors including I2BF Global Ventures, bringing the company’s total funding to more than $70 million.
Portside is Vernitský and Strygin’s second business after the start of the travel agency GetGoing, which they sold in 2016 to BCD Travel, a business travel management company.
Vernitsky was previously head of product at thredUp and was SVP at BCD Travel for years (as was Strygin) after the Get Going acquisition.
“Portside provides an integrated platform and strives to be a single point of contact for flight departments,” Vernitsky told TechCrunch via email.
“As operators expand, they need to achieve efficiencies through technology.
The Portside product suite gives them the ability to streamline workflows while making the most of their aircraft assets.”
To this end, Portside provides tools to automatically allocate crew and aircraft based on a given schedule and standardize the way business air travel is reported.
Portside’s staffing marketplace gives employers access to a database of pilots and crew, while a dedicated services app helps manage crew accommodation.
In addition, Portside maintains a traffic management portal that helps plan and handle government, corporate and charter flights using existing aircraft systems.
“Business aircraft are now more capable than ever when it comes to flying more people over longer distances, which means many more trips are now international and more complex in terms of logistics and regulations,” continued Vernitsky.
“Having an integrated system that combines operational, financial and maintenance data is now critical to a successful journey.”
Business has been pretty good, Vernitsky said — even during the pandemic.
It helps that business aviation as a market is expanding rapidly.
A Honeywell survey released last October forecast up to 8,500 new business jet deliveries worth $274 billion from 2023 to 2032.
15% in both deliveries and spending over the same 10-year forecast a year ago.
Another survey – this one by Airbus – found that 89% of businesses with annual revenues exceeding $500 million plan to increase their use of business aviation in 2023.
Why strong growth? The Airbus survey provides some information.
Eighty-one percent of respondents said they have increased reliance on commercial aviation during the pandemic.
63% cited continued expected challenges in the commercial aviation industry, such as flight delays and cancellations.
Whatever the reason, Portside certainly benefited.
Today, the company claims to support nearly 1,000 private, commercial and government aircraft operators in more than 30 countries.
Vernitsky claims 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 and Portside has grown about three times a year over the last few years.
Business aviation continues to grow and we intend to continue developing innovative products for the industry,” said Vernitsky.
Vernitsky says the capital from the latest round of funding will be used to develop the software and “further expand” Portside’s customer base and product portfolio.
The startup currently employs 110 people and is expected to grow to 150 by the end of the year.