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A 21-Year Old Is Revolitionizing Luxury Air Travel

When Zander Futernick was just a little boy, he dreamed of growing up to become a pilot. On his 8thbirthday, the boy was ecstatic when his father got him a little airport complete with airplane models. Even when flying for travel, he would somehow find himself in the plane’s cockpit along with the pilots, who even made him sit in their seats. The obsession stuck and gradually, he moved on to flight simulators, eventually learning how to fly a Cessna, albeit a small one. But as Zander got older, he could not keep up wit his flying schedule, mentioning that one needs to keep practicing all year long, which he just couldn’t do.

His family had a 2-generation old firm that worked for logistics and real estate management and he eventually joined in. He pursued a degree in psychology, marketing and corporate finance from the Stern School of Business, NYU, hoping to follow in his fathers footsteps. But his destiny lied elsewhere, as his fascination with planes led him to a very different career path, which combined his passion for aviation, his business degree and entrepreneurial spirit.

The start of something big

At the age of 20, Zander started ZED Aerospace in 2016 in Miami, with the aim to develop a first-of-its kind revolution in flight technology and investors from all over Europe, Middle East and USA backed it. The first product that ZED Aerospace launched was called AURA, which was to be the missing link between your regular commercial airplanes and private jets, thereby by bringing luxury to its customers but at affordable prices.

With their services slated to start in 2019, AURA will only use private airports and terminals in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Denver and Atlanta. The second phase of operations would expand the following year to cities like Boston, San Francisco and Las Vegas, among other cities. There are also plans to connect popular skiing destinations, event and holiday destinations.

The AURA experience

Every AURA plane consists of 2 cabins: called ‘First’ and ‘Wave’, with first being the equivalent of first class, accommodating 21 passengers and offers wide seats and more leg room, more so than any first-class commercial jet. Then there’s Wave, which is the company’s signature experience, with only 8 seats. Members of AURA, called Keyholders are allowed to book unlimited multiple flights, enjoy preferential seating with a flexi cancelation policy and fixed fares.

Joining the membership comes with a one-time fee of $700, with a monthly renewal fee of $250 a month. The one-way fare for Keyholders ranges from $280 to $580 for First and for Wave, it starts from $600 all the way up to $1180. The biggest advantage of flying wit AURA, however is that you only need to get to the airport 20 minutes before your flight to scheduled to take off. For those who fly frequently, this practically means shaving off days from your busy life.

The whole shebang

ZED Aerospace has collaborated with the Swiss interior design company YASAVA Solutions to style AURA, only to create an unmatched flight experience. So on their CRJ700 fleet, there are a host of hi-tech features, such as an OLED panels on the ceiling and side panels with augmented reality displays which mimics the environment outside. These flights will also boast of the most hygienic interiors, with the washrooms cleaning themselves up after every single use. The flight will also be carbon-neutral as all the fares would include a fee to offset each flyer’s carbon footprint.

The food is to be a treat with First flyers getting a choice from seasonal small plates from cuisines from all over the world. Wave guests get to choose their cuts of meat, which would always be fresh and never frozen. All guests, irrespective of being Wave or First class, would be offered fresh sashimi and sushi, Lindt chocolates and artisanal desserts. For the thirsty passenger, there is the open bar with Champagne, curated wines and top-of-the line liquors. Other amenities include the free use of the iPad Pro and VR headsets. Wave passengers also get to experience the exclusively designed ‘Aïanawave’ zero gravity seats, which offer the best inflight sleep position for short flights

For the immediate future, Futernick wishes to focus and perfect the growth of the company in the domestic market. He says that he will not cross the oceans until ZED Aerospace can do it supersonically, which he wishes to do before anyone else beats him to it.

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