A 19-year-old’s airline dream

Start-up UK regional carrier Alpha One Airways will take to the air by the end of October, founder Martin Halstead, a 19-year-old entrepreneur trying to fulfill his dream of launching his own airline, told Routes Daily News today in Copenhagen. Airline Business is producing its daily during the annual network planning event.

From his seat in the OAG New Airline Hall, Halstead admits that some have been cynical about the prospects for Alpha One. However, “the reception here at Routes has been very positive. The airports we’re seeing are taking us very seriously and want to see us succeed.

“Particularly at first people seem nervous of my age,” says Halstead. “They take a step back. But as soon as we start talking they realise that we are doing this properly. Age is just a number and has not got any say in how successful an airline is.”

The aim is for Alpha One to start with a single 8-seat Piper Chieftain, but this will be replaced within three to four months with a 19-seat BAE Systems Jetstream 31, he says. It will fly an intense daily schedule, piloted by Halstead and other members of the airline’s management team.

The network will include a service between Bristol and an airport in the northwest of England, a service between Oxford and Cambridge, and a rotation between Oxford and the northern UK airport. This is likely to be either Liverpool or Manchester.

The start up funding for his airline comes from the proceeds of a simulations software company Halstead founded when he was 15 and sold last year. This will fund 70% of the operation, with the backing of a private Oxford-based investor providing the rest.

Alpha One plans to sell about 80% of its tickets via its website, which should go live next week, he says.

But can it survive? Halstead certainly has the confidence and the resources to at least give it a go. “We have more than enough money to operate without a single passenger for six months, but beyond that they’re right,” he says of the doubters.

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