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Fred Reid, global head of transportation at Airbnb

Airbnb eyes the skies, hires top aviation exec

The home-sharing giant has hired Fred Reid as its new transport chief, in an effort to “make travel easier and even fun”.

Airbnb has recruited top aviation executive Fred Reid as its global head of transportation, as the home-sharing company lays out its plans for an end-to-end travel platform combining accommodation, activities and both transport and transfers.

Reid, who graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1973 and started his career in aviation as sales director in Europe for American Airlines back in 1987-1992, will now be working on building partnerships and services to make travel seamless for Airbnb users.

A global aviation expert with more than three decades of experience, he has been the founding chief executive of Virgin America, president of Delta Airlines when leading the formation of the SkyTeam alliance, president and COO of Lufthansa in 1996, and a co-architect of Star Alliance.

He joins Airbnb from being president of the Cora Aircraft Program, a division of Kitty Hawk, where he has overseen the development of autonomous electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. Before that he was president of Flexjet, a division of Bombardier.

Travel experiment
“I’m excited to work with [Airbnb] to tackle the third part of the travel experience: how you get there,” Reid says. “Whether in the air or on the ground, there are tremendous opportunities to create products and forge partnerships with other companies that make travel easier and even fun.”

He adds: “Realising those opportunities will take years and require constant experimentation, and I’m truly honoured to have the chance to take on such an audacious challenge with this team.”

However, Airbnb is “not interested in building our own airline or creating just another place on the internet where you can buy a plane ticket,” explains Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s co-founder and CEO.

“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 […] but there is a tremendous opportunity to improve the transportation experience for everyone.”

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