Airbnb announced on Thursday that airline industry veteran Fred Reid has joined the company as global head of transportation to lead an intensive push into transportation.
“We’re going to explore a broad range of ideas and partnerships that can make transportation better. We haven’t settled on exactly what those will look like,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said in a statement.
Back in 2016, Bloomberg reported that Airbnb was developing an air travel booking service, called Flights, which would put it in direct competition with companies like Priceline and Expedia for more of the online travel spending pie. The platform was reportedly due to launch about 18 months later, prior to an initial public offering. Just over two years later, there’s been no word about Flights and an IPO date has not been confirmed. However, Reid joining the company appears to solidify its push into travel.
An Airbnb spokesperson told Cheddar Arbnb wasn’t ruling out an option to book a plane ticket, but emphasized that Reid’s transportation effort will be about much more than just providing a way to buy a ticket.
“I’m not interested in building our own airline or creating just another place on the Internet where you can buy a plane ticket, but there is a tremendous opportunity to improve the transportation experience for everyone,” Chesky said.
Prior to joining Airbnb in January, Reid served in executive roles at Virgin America, Lufthansa German Airlines, Flexjet, and Delta Airlines, where he led the formation of SkyTeam alliance. In his last role as president of Cora Aircraft Program, a division of Kitty Hawk, he oversaw the development of an autonomous electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.
Reid’s experience and connections within the industry will be key as Airbnb gets serious about fleshing out its transportation offerings, and forging partnerships that, in Reid’s words, “make travel easier and even fun.”
“Airbnb and its incredible global community have revolutionized where you stay and what you can do when you travel,” Reid said in a statement. “I’m excited to work with them to tackle the third part of the travel experience: how you get there.”