Airbnb ramps up expansion into transport sector with hire of Virgin America CEO

Airbnb expands into transport

Airbnb has hired its first global head of transportation in Fred Reid, the former chief executive of Virgin America — a move indicative of its plans to encroach on other verticals in the travel industry.

The brand will eventually offer travel partners access to its platform and global network of guests and hosts. Airbnb aims to offer ‘significant economic opportunities for these partners’, according to a statement, while delivering ‘better travel experiences to millions of people around the world’.

Brian Chesky, the cofounder and chief executive of Airbnb, said the company plans to explore a “a broad range of ideas and partnerships that can make transportation better”, although he admitted that the brand is not sure “what those will look like” on principle.

He clarified, however, that the company will not be launching an airline or a flight booking site.

Reid has been tasked with building these partnerships and services.

The global head of transportation was the founding chief executive of Virgin America when it launched in 2014 and most recently held the role of president of Kitty Hawk’s Cora Aircraft Program,an autonomous electric aircraft launch.

The news comes just over two years since the company expanded out of hospitality and into experiences, allowing users to book local trips, tours and activities through the platform.

“Airbnb ... [has] revolutionized where you stay and what you can do when you travel,” said Reid. “I’m excited to work with them to tackle the third part of the travel experience: how you get there. 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.

"Realizing those opportunities will take years and require constant experimentation, and I’m truly honored to have the chance to take on such an audacious challenge with this team."

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