Those headed from Hollywood to Coachella this week bracing for hours of traffic, might be interested in a pricier alternative. Blade, the digitally powered aviation company backed by media execs including Barry Diller, Eric Schmidt, Bob Pittman, David Zaslav, Brett Ratner, Geyer Kosinski and Kenny Lerer, this week launches its expansion to Los Angeles. Run by former Sony, and Warner Music chief exec Rob Wiesenthal, the service kicks off with helicopter flights from Santa Monica to an airport five minutes away from Coachella that will take 50 minutes and cost $695 each way. It’s the next expansion step for a service that for the past three years has been arranging flights for Hollywood execs, agents, and actors by helicopter and plane between Manhattan, The Hamptons and Nantucket.
Wiesenthal said he started Blade while at Warner Music and it grew quickly to the point where Diller, an early investor, told him to run it or hire a CEO. “I couldn’t let it go and it was the right time to do it,” he said. The service has been through two rounds of fund raises, and he said he has used his time working with John Calley and Amy Pascal to good use, crafting an upscale narrative for the service that includes lavish departure lounges stylized as an homage to the 60’s golden age of aviation, with flight attendants dressed and styled by Cynthia Rowley and Sarah Jessica Parker. The company has designs next on Europe, and will try again in Park City; it launched a service from LA to the Sundance Film Festival last January, landing at a ranch five minutes away. Locals complained for, among other reasons, the feeling the noise was upsetting wildlife including elk. That will be revisited, he hoped.