DRCT, a mobility tech startup, has announced plans to accelerate the development of Direct One, a virtual 'neo-airline' that employs AI technology to locate, redeem, and sell unsold or inexpensive seats to clients, following a US$500,000 pre-seed investment round (December 2021).
"Airline distribution still uses 1980s technology, meaning seat pricing remains ineffective and costly, with 1 billion seats unsold and 9% of the money lost on marketing and poor distribution methods each year," argues DRCT's Managing Partner. Due to outdated software, the airline booking experience is uneven and imprecise, resulting in travellers being presented with a plethora of unnecessary offers and little information about what they are paying for. To put it another way, purchasing an airplane ticket online is difficult and even stressful."
"It's past time for airline ticket distribution to change," says Dmitry Ianishevskyi, co-founder of the DRCT. "With Uber's recent announcement of ambitions to expand into flight booking, the industry needs to sit up and take notice."
"With the AI-driven algorithms we've developed as a New Distribution Capability (NDC) aggregator, we're creating the world's first 'neo-airline,' which, similar to what Uber and Revolut have done with taxis and banks, doesn't rely on its fleet of aircraft but intuitively learns from passenger demand and creates optimal offers based on what's available on the market."
DRCT, a Delaware firm, is seeking $5-$7 million in initial round funding in 2022 to scale product development. The company is testing technology that combines API connections to access carrier inventory and AI-driven algorithms to analyze and locate unsold or undervalued airline seats, which will then be offered to customers through partner travel merchants.
"Unlike existing flight search engines and comparison sites, our technology and business model will provide complete transparency, meaning there will be no hidden costs for ancillary products added along the way, and the entire booking and trip management experience – including cancellations and changes – will be instant and in one place, solving a major headache for travelers today," Nekrylov continues. We can safely state that booking flights and making modifications with Direct One will be as effortless as ordering an Uber taxi."
DRCT is now beta testing its solution with an unnamed European OTA partner.
"In the current phase of our tech development, we are tailoring offers that have raised our partners' sales by 36% compared to direct airline channels," Ianishevskyi said. These are promising early results, and we're devoting all of our resources, time, and money to bringing a breakthrough product to market."
Viktor Nekrylov and Dmitry Ianishevskyi, co-founders of DRCT, have launched five successful travel and aviation firms, including Tickets Consolidator, the industry's largest ticket seller and consolidator, as well as the fastest-growing travel IT company in Eastern Europe between 2013 and 21. Over 30 airlines, including Lufthansa Group, Emirates, and British Airways, have already chosen DRCT as their preferred NDC aggregator. The firm is owned by Aviatech Investments, a private equity fund that invests in aviation technology start-ups. Aviatech Investments' incubated portfolio firms have generated €90 million in yearly revenue over the last five years.