Out in the Nevada desert, the gambling resort of Las Vegas has an interesting advertising slogan: ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.’ In other words, you can do anything you want there and the folks back in Des Moines need never know. Well, one fellow out in Vegas is hoping to change all that. Barry Michaels is trying to start up Family Airlines, which has applied for US DoT approval to inaugurate long-range domestic service using Boeing 747-400 aircraft packed with almost 600 seats. Family aims to fly the wide-body aircraft from Los Angeles to New York and Miami. During its first year of operation, it hopes to add flights to Orlando, Tampa, San Francisco, San Jose, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Honolulu and Phoenix.
Michaels tells Megan Kuhn, our friend at Air Transport Intelligence (ATI), that the 747 is the “least expensive aircraft to operate when it's used the way it was designed to be used,” meaning at 100% capacity. He envisions configuring the planes with 539 coach seats and 42 seats in a premium class. It’s a little difficult to see how this market niche would work out, given the overcapacity in the cross-country markets and the very chequered history of attempts to use 747-sized aircraft in domestic service.
But Michaels is just the family planner, and he tells ATI, “[I] don’t see myself ultimately as a manager. [I] see a professional CEO taking over once we’ve started [flying].” Michaels, a native New Yorker, has hopes for speedy DoT approval even though his past includes a 15-month stay at the Nellis Federal Prison Camp in North Las Vegas (right) for securities and tax violations that occurred in 1992. “This is a part of my life that I’m not proud of, but it is a part of my past and believe me, I’ve learned a very costly lesson from it,” he says on his personal blog. Michaels is also running for a seat in Congress in this November’s general election, and has some interesting personal reflections in his campiagn site.