When a press release came through earlier this week announcing the launch of a low-cost airline called flyforbeans it seemed too funny to be true.
My first reaction was to check out the airline’s website to see if it was legit. I wasn’t so sure after the website told me: “If you have an urgent media, recruitment or other enquiry, you can e-mail us now at email@example.com and we will respond to you as fast as a runner bean.”
But it turned out not to be an early April Fools Day hoax. Indeed aviation consultancy SkyMerlin and former Tiger Airways finance director Tim Lee are leading a new Wales-based company that aims to launch low-cost flights later this year under the name flyforbeans.
Lee thought of the name while he was in a market in France and an English man shouted: “I got my flight for beans.”
“All the directors liked it and it kind of stuck,” says the carrier’s spokeswoman.
Flyforbeans stands for true low cost principles, the cheapest and the best.
Lee is now working on securing an initial fleet of Boeing 737-300s and applying for an air operators’ certificate from UK authorities. Flyforbeans hopes to begin tickets sales in the third quarter and launch by the end of the fourth quarter. It will operate routes from the Welsh capital Cardiff to France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Eastern Europe.
Few other details are known. The carrier is not yet revealing who its private investors are or how much funds it has secured, although it has identified SkyMerlin chairman Gyan Ghuman as the “launch investor”.
Ghunam is pictured below (far right), next to (from right to left) Lee, Welsh assembly member Andrew Davies and flyforbeans head of marketing Polly Stewart.
If it does launch, flyforbeans will be good news for Welsh citizens and Welsh tourism. Cardiff now has limited services given Wales’ population of roughly three million, forcing locals to drive to Bristol and Birmingham to catch affordable flights to continental Europe.
Lee, a former general manger of defunct turboprop operator Air Wales, came up with the idea of a Cardiff-based low-cost carrier several years ago. After finishing his one-year contract with Singapore-based low-cost carrier Tiger Airways last year he decided to finally pursue his dream because no one had done it yet. He has since recruited an executive team of 12 and plans to hire nearly another 100 employees prior to launch.
“Tim and his team have developed and brought forward a very interesting airline concept and we now look forward to them bringing this to fruition,” says Cardiff Airport managing director Jon Horne.
The airport’s marketing manger, Peter Phillips, points out this is not the first time an airline will launch with a bizarre name. “On strange names, isn’t there a Swiss airline named after the boss’ dog?” Phillips says, referring to Geneva-based Flybaboo. “Then there’s Virgin. What idiot came up with that one?”