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DRCT ushers in era of digital airlines with new tech development

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Further funding will enable DRCT to become the world’s first digital airline without owning a fleet.

Following a US$500,000 pre-seed funding round (December 2021) mobility tech company, DRCT, is announcing plans to escalate the development of Direct One, a virtual ‘neo-airline’ that uses AI technology to identify, redeem and sell unsold or undervalued seats to customers.

Viktor Nekrylov, Managing Partner at DRCT, explains: “Airline distribution still uses 1980s technology, meaning seat pricing remains ineffective and costly, with 1 billion seats unsold and 9% of revenue wasted on marketing and ineffective distribution models each year. Outdated software also means the flight booking experience is inconsistent and unclear, so travellers are shown countless irrelevant offers with little detail about what they are paying for. In other words, buying an airline ticket online is complicated and even stressful.”

“It is high time airline ticket distribution changes,” adds DRCT co-founder, Dmitry Ianishevskyi. “With Uber recently announcing plans to diversify into flight booking, the industry needs to sit up and listen.

“Thanks to the AI-driven algorithms we have developed as a New Distribution Capability (NDC) aggregator, we are building the world’s first ‘neo-airline’ that, much like what Uber and Revolut has done with taxis and banks, does not rely on its own fleet of aircraft but intuitively learns from passenger demand, and creates optimal offers based on what is available on the market.”

Valued today at US$5m, DRCT, a Delaware corporation, is seeking $5-$7m of seed round investment in 2022 to scale product development. The company is trialling technology that uses API connections to access carrier inventory, and AI-driven algorithms to analyse and identify unsold or undervalued airline seats and offer them to consumers through partner travel sellers. 

Nekrylov continues: “Unlike existing flight search engines and comparison sites, our technology and business model will bring complete visibility, 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 travellers today. We can confidently say that with Direct One, flight booking and making changes will be as simple as ordering a taxi with Uber.”

DRCT has now begun beta testing its technology with an undisclosed European OTA partner. 

Ianishevskyi, adds: “In the current phase of our tech development we are tailoring offers that have increased our partner’s sales by 36%, in comparison to direct airline channels. These are exciting results early on, and we are pouring all our expertise, time and investments into bringing a truly revolutionary product to market.”

DRCT co-founders, Viktor Nekrylov and Dmitry Ianishevskyi have founded five successful travel and aviation businesses including Tickets Consolidator, the industry’s largest ticket seller and consolidator and the fastest-growing company in travel tech between 2013-21 in Eastern Europe. DRCT is already a recognised NDC aggregator trusted by over 30 airlines worldwide including Lufthansa Group, Emirates, and British Airways. The company is part of the Aviatech Investments holding company, a private equity fund investing in aviation technology start-ups. Over the last five years, Aviatech Investments incubated portfolio companies reached €90m in annual revenues.

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