One of the world’s best-known brands has teamed up with Denver-based startup Boom Supersonic. Amex Ventures, a venture capital arm of American Express, is investing in Boom Supersonic. Boom is busy developing a supersonic plane called the Overture. Earning Amex miles on Overture’s first flights? It’s a whole new way to look at the American dream.
Serious money and expertise behind Boom Supersonic
As previously reported in Simple Flying, Boom Supersonic is working on a commercially viable 65- to 88-seat supersonic airliner, capable of running on 100% sustainable aviation fuel. Boom is eyeing commercial flights from 2029 and say their plane will fly twice as fast as regular jets when crossing oceans. They say they’ve taken US$6 billion in pre-orders for the Overture.
Commercially viable supersonic passenger flights may sound a bit pie in the sky, especially after the failure of the Concorde. But there’s more than one start-up working on the idea. Dive into Boom Supersonic and you’ll see there some serious expertise and money behind the business.
For instance, Japan Airlines has invested US$10 million into research and development at Boom while also taking the option to purchase up to 20 Boom aircraft through a pre-order arrangement. The US Air Force has also awarded Boom a contract to explore the possibility of using supersonic aircraft in the USAF’s executive fleet.
“Boom is an example of the American ingenuity that drives the economy forward through technological advances,” said USAF Brigadier General Ryan Britton last year.
Now American Express is climbing onboard. You might think this isn’t the traditional turf of a charge card company, but Amex Ventures argues otherwise.
“Travel has been a key part of American Express’ heritage and it remains an integral part of our card members’ lifestyles,” says Harshul Sanghi, Global Head of Amex Ventures.
“Boom is building a supersonic passenger aircraft that will make travel faster and more sustainable.”
What’s American Express’ interest in supersonic travel?
Amex Ventures is a subsidiary of American Express that invests in innovation and start-ups. To date, they’ve invested in more than 70 businesses. Mostly they are tech and payment-type companies with some loose crossover into American Express’s space and interests. Simple Flying asked Amex Ventures about the scope and nature of their investment in Boom Supersonic. Their spokesperson wouldn’t disclose the amount of the investment. But the spokesperson said they were excited to support Boom’s development and invest in the future of travel.
“Amex Ventures backs start-ups across the fintech, payments, B2B, and consumer ecosystems that are delivering innovative technology, products, and experiences. Boom is a prime example of that.”
Supersonic aircraft have the potential to change the way we travel
Boom Supersonic says if its gets Overture up and flying – and they think they will, the plane has the potential to slash travel times on roughly 500 transoceanic routes. In a perfect American Express world, a future passenger would pay for a flight using one of their cards.
Boom’s website says the Overture could fly Paris to Montreal in three hours and 45 minutes, San Francisco to Tokyo in six hours, and Singapore to Dubai in four hours. It’s got the potential to revolutionize air travel. But only if the price is right. If costs are so high that fares become a rich man’s game only, Boom will only ever be a niche player and probably an unprofitable one at that.
But that’s not the route Boom hopes to take. They’ve advocated for a pretty democratic, mass-market approach to supersonic travel. Given the caliber of investors, they may be moving towards achieving that goal.
What do you think? Will supersonic travel ever be affordable? Is American Express onto something investing in Boom Supersonic? Post a comment and let us know.