#63 Uma Subramanian, Surya Ventures: Commercial air travel innovation under attack

#63 Uma Subramanian, Surya Ventures: Commercial air travel innovation under attack

In today's episode, we sit down with Uma Subramanian, a seasoned aviation expert with a wealth of experience in the industry.

Having known Uma for many years, we've been really eager to bring her insights to our audience. From her time as an engineer working on F-18s, to doing corporate development and strategy at Rolls Royce, to leading the urban air mobility network Voom, an Airbus company, to being the founding CEO of Aero, an airline catering to premium passengers, from March 2019 to September 2023, Uma truly brings a unique perspective to the table.

Our conversation with Uma covers a wide range of topics, from the genesis of Aero and the economics of running an airline to the challenges and opportunities in the ever-evolving aviation industry. One particularly contentious topic we explore is the ongoing debate surrounding Part 135 and Part 380 regulations, sparked by the success and recent public discourse around JSX.

Throughout our discussion, we delve into the intricacies of airline operations, exploring questions such as the right strategies for profitable growth, the role of labor in shaping airline policies, and the regulatory structures that either hinder or foster innovation in air travel. We also touch upon exciting developments in electric aviation and the potential for regional air services in the U.S., shedding light on the future of aviation and the path forward for industry innovation.

So join us as we unpack the complexities of starting and running an airline, navigate the economics of air travel, and explore the fascinating intersections of innovation and regulation in aviation.

05:02 The Genesis of Aero: A New Approach to Air Travel
08:27 The Economics of Running an Airline: Operator vs. Network
11:46 Airbus Voom: Economics and Lessons Learned
13:39 Right Strategy for Growing an Airline
18:07 Is There an Opportunity for a Regional Air Service in the U.S.?
22:34 Airlines Are Beholden to Labor - The Role of Autonomy
25:41 Economics of Part 121 vs. Part 135 Air Carriers
29:07 Does Regulatory Structure Allow Innovation in Air Travel?
33:11 Electric Aviation
35:13 The Part 121 vs. Part 135 / Part 380 Debate
42:54 How Airlines Differentiate
44:25 Innovation and the Path Forward in Aviation
51:34 The Energy Problem


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