Blade Urban Air Mobility is to become publicly listed in order to bolster its trajectory within the growing UAM market and to accelerate its transition from conventional aircraft to eVTOL. Currently, more people fly helicopters in and out of US city centres via Blade than any other company in the world. Urban air mobility is expected to be a $125 billion market by 2025 and grow to $650 billion over the next decade, according to Morgan Stanley Equity Research.
Blade and Experience Investment, a NASDAQ-listed special purpose acquisition company sponsored by an affiliate of KSL Capital Partners, have signed a definitive business combination agreement pursuant to which Blade will merge into a subsidiary of Experience Investment, which in turn will change its name to Blade Urban Air Mobility. Upon closing of the transaction, the combined operating company is expected to continue to be listed on NASDAQ.
Blade provides consumers with a cost effective and time efficient alternative to ground transportation for congested routes, predominantly within the northeast United States and India. The company has developed exclusive passenger terminal infrastructure in key markets, providing a competitive advantage in locations that are geographically constrained from adding additional heliports. Additionally, brands partner with Blade to provide visibility of their products and services to the company's passengers, underscoring the brand recognition and reputation that it has developed.
Blade was specifically designed to be scalable and profitable using conventional helicopters today, while poised to seamlessly transition to eVTOL as soon as those aircraft are ready for public use, passing on lower operating costs to fliers and enabling a reduced noise footprint and zero carbon emissions for the communities the company serves.
Blade operates in four key lines of business: short distance, BLADE Airport, BLADE MediMobility, and International Joint Ventures. As part of its expansion strategy, the company forms joint ventures with local partners in key overseas markets to provide the technology, customer experience, infrastructure design and employee training that enables a scalable and consistent experience.
The company expects to use proceeds from the transaction to fund expansion into new markets, including the northeast corridor and west coast in the US, as well as internationally in Asia. The company will also pursue infrastructure acquisitions in these markets, resulting in improved unit economics for its current business while enabling the company's transition to eVTOL aircraft.
All leading aerospace OEMs, including Airbus, have deployed billions in the development of eVTOL aircraft. This new aerospace technology offers significant advantages to conventional aircraft currently used by Blade. The company's management believes eVTOL's combination of reduced noise, zero carbon footprint and enhanced safety will serve as a catalyst to developing new vertiport infrastructure (landing zones with passenger terminals) in cities across the globe.
Blade founder and CEO Rob Wiesenthal comments: “Ground mobility has been radically transformed by software and battery technology, as evidenced by the rapid adoption of electric vehicles. The next battle is in the air. This transaction provides the capital for Blade to profitably expand its urban air mobility business using conventional rotorcraft today, while providing a seamless transition to eVTOL aircraft tomorrow.”
Eric Affeldt, CEO and chairman of Experience Investment, adds: “Our deep investing expertise in aviation led us to evaluate dozens of potential opportunities, of which none proved as compelling an investment opportunity as Blade. We believe Blade has successfully leveraged its first-mover advantage in urban air mobility with proprietary customer-to-cockpit technology, strategic and exclusive passenger terminal infrastructure as well as a loyal customer base to catalyse growth in the industry. It is well positioned to fortify its business growth through expansion to new markets, globally, as well as through investment in infrastructure to support new routes while accommodating the future requirements of eVTOL. Additionally, KSL's portfolio company, Ross Aviation, which operates 17 FBOs in North America, including in New York, Massachusetts and California, may provide important partnership opportunities for Blade and Ross Aviation to accommodate eVTOL routes, maintenance and charging stations in key markets.”