© Reuters. The German chauffeur service Blacklane CEO Jens Wohltorf is pictured in Berlin
BERLIN (Reuters) – The German chauffeur service Blacklane, which specializes in airport transfers, wants to use the demand for relatively safe cross-country travel to increase revenues affected by COVID-19, which also ruined its plans for a stock exchange listing in 2022.
The startup, which operates in more than 300 cities in 50 countries and saw a decline in sales earlier this year due to air travel stopped by the pandemic, is now bringing customers from their offices or homes directly to the cities they used to fly.
"Our bread and butter business was the airport transfer, often to both destinations," said managing director Jens Wohltorf. "In April, earnings dropped to 1% and since then we've started to reinvent ourselves, roll up our sleeves and fight our way out."
Blacklane advertises its intercity rides, currently available in the UK and Germany, with a promise of safety and fair prices.
"You are alone (in the car), you have the social distance, you know that it is much more convenient," said Wohltorf.
A single trip with a limousine from Berlin to Frankfurt costs from around 50 euros, to Hamburg from around 180 euros and to Munich from around 350 euros. This compares to ticket prices to Frankfurt of, for example, 23-200 euros.
Revenue is now back between 30% and 50% of pre-crisis levels, depending on the cities, said the group, which originally planned to break even this year.
It will take some time before last year's sales hit around 100 million euros, but the company is still hoping for fresh money from investors and a future listing.
($ 1 = 0.8461 euros)
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