Brazilian on-demand marketplace Flapper is expanding its services to Spanish-speaking nations in Latin America from Q3 2020. The company plans to open offices in Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Colombia, citing high demand for long-haul flights and the high density of local fleets as the main driving factors behind its expansion. CEO Paul Malicki says: “Out of the three largest business aviation fleets in the world, two are Latin American. The region also boasts six of the world’s ten largest urban helicopter fleets. The volume is clearly there, and we’ve been receiving continuous requests from neighbouring countries ever since we launched. This expansion marks part of our long-term vision to become the preferred partner in Latin America for charter flights and short-haul helicopter transfers.”
Created in 2016, Flapper had initially become known for its mobile app, enabling the purchase of individual seats on predefined routes. By building partnerships with local air taxi operators, the platform offered scheduled flights on two routes in Brazil’s southeast region, with up to 10 high-season destinations across the country. The Grand Caravan, Pilatus PC-12 and King Air aircraft have been used to deliver the pay-per-seat service.
Despite Brazil being its main market, Flapper has significantly expanded its charters abroad, with up to 60 per cent of all flights realised in May having a destination or origin outside of Brazil. The proprietary inventory of the Flapper charter marketplace currently counts 450 aircraft in the region, while the company also represents four local air carriers on Avinode‘s sourcing platform.
The size of the entire Part 135 market in Latin America is estimated to be at least a thousand aircraft, distributed among 400 certified operators. The local civil aviation authorities' lack of e-systems, combined with a relationship-driven Latin culture are just some of the challenges the company foresees moving forward. Only three countries in the region offer online consultation of aircraft tail numbers. This makes safety vetting even more important as part of Flapper’s plans to grow supply in the challenging Latin America region.
One of the key projects undertaken by the company involves full localisation of its product, including language, currency and payment methods. Online fraud remains a significant issue. In an industry where 50 per cent of trips are last-minute, the risk of chargeback is huge, argues Barbara Andrade, the company's CFO. “In Brazil, every customer who flies with us goes through online identity verification, powered by our anti-fraud solution," she states. “Since not all markets in Latam have access to as much financial data as Brazil, this means integrating numerous gateways, acquirers and anti-fraud providers, so that we enable safe and profitable service for all stakeholders involved.”
Flapper reports more than 180,000 users registered in its system.