Wingz Sketches Plans to Take Its Rideshare Service Beyond Airports

Wingz plans to expand its airport-only rideshare service into several cities on the East Coast by yearend, after opening up its services in San Antonio last week, Mobility Buzz has learned.

The expansion will enable the startup to open ridesharing back up to riders outside of airports — a business model Wingz offered back in 2011 when it was founded.

The San Francisco-based company was founded as a traditional ride-hailing company, but pivoted shortly after to focus on servicing airports specifically, Melvin Karsenti, a communications manager for Wingz, told Mobility Buzz. The pivot was driven — in part — by amped up competition in the rideshare market, making it difficult for the company to compete.

Wingz operates in 11 cities, with plans to expand nationwide, Karsenti said, but declined to specify which cities it is targeting next. As Wingz has grown, it is also now able to drive back to its initial plan of being a rideshare company outside of airports.

The company focuses on strengthening the driver/passenger relationship by allowing riders to “save” favorite drivers on the app. Drivers go through extensive vetting, including vehicle inspections, in-person interviews, background checks, and more; only 5% of driver applicants become Wingz drivers, Karsenti said. This is part to foster a feeling of safety for riders and facilitate a stronger connection that riders have with their drivers, he added.

“[Wingz] is trying to find the drivers who aren’t there to just make money, but want to help people,” he said. “We want them to be service-oriented.”

This emphasis on creating deeper driver/rider relationships has become a trend within the rideshare industry, as seen with companies like Hovit and Kango; both companies stress that their respective business models are working to bring the personal dimension to rides and allow drivers to become a part of a rider’s life and community.

This may be a reaction to rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft, who are investing heavily in autonomous vehicles — a clear desire to eliminate the driver, Karsenti said.

Wingz is not interested in the potential use of autonomous vehicles for their business, because it would eliminate what makes Wingz stand out, he added. “We don’t see driverless cars in our future,” he said. “People really value their relationships.”

Those interested in learning more about rideshare startups disrupting the transportation industry, should join us at the second annual Auto Finance Innovation 2017 conference, May 17-18 at the Hilton Bayfront in San Diego. Visit and to learn more.

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