US start-up carrier Baltia Air Lines has pushed back its launch to at least February 2010 due to delays in submitting its application for an FAA operating permit.

Baltia executive vice president Russell Thal told the Cargo Facts 2009 aircraft symposium in Seattle the carrier had originally planned to begin services late this summer with Boeing 747-200 flights between New York JFK and St Petersburg in Russia. But he says it has taken longer to prepare the manuals required by the FAA and Baltia now plans to submit its manuals next month.

The carrier has been told by the FAA it will then take four to five months for the manuals to be reviewed. Therefore the earliest Baltia will be able to launch is February.

"In the old days we used to take someone else's manual and paste our names in it," Thal told the Cargo Facts conference. "Those days are gone and now everything is scrutinized."

He says Baltia plans to initially operate one weekly frequency on the JFK-St Petersburg route with additional frequencies to be added later. Thal says Baltia also envisions launching services from New York to Moscow, Riga, Minsk and other ex-Soviet cities as the carrier takes additional 747-200s, which will be configured with 270 seats spread across four classes. It plans to add one aircraft every three to five months.

Thal says the upper deck of Baltia's 747-200s will be equipped with a lounge and dining room for premium passengers. He says the carrier is talking to Regent Aerospace about supplying the interior for its first aircraft.

As part of Baltia's plan to go back to "the days of a luxury liner", Thal says the carrier will have a chef and 20 stewards on each flight.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news