Luxury business doing well for zeppelin owners


Starting a luxury business in a recession may sound like a bad idea, but for the owners of a zeppelin business that gives flights around the San Francisco Bay Area for $495 per person, it's working well so far and is getting $2.5 million more in investor funding.

Airship Ventures of Moffett Field in Mountain View, Calif., sells one-hour, two-hour and longer flights for $495 for one person for an hour and two hours at $950. In this economy, that luxury looks a little too steep, even for tourists with money to spare. But owners Alexandra and Brian Hall say the sightseeing service is doing fine, according to a San Francisco Chronicle story.

"It was not the best time to launch in the luxury tourist business," just as the economy was failing," Alexandra Hall told the Chronicle. "There was not a lot we could do about that," because the plans for the sightseeing service were put in motion two years ago and couldn't be stopped.

But a second round of investor funding is close after an initial $8 million from six investors.

It did hit a rough patch. A few employees were laid off after some cash flow problems, leaving it with about 25 employees. The company has a lease financing agreement with the zeppelin's owners and will eventually own the craft.

The tours are flown out of Moffett Field and from Oakland International Airport. It will soon have flown 1,500 passengers in the three and a half months of operation, and 800 are booked for future flights.

Luxury, at least in the air, is something people are willing to pay for no matter how bad the economy is.