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  • Writer's pictureMark Evers

A Guide To Starting Your Airline

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

Prepare For Take-off

Launching a new airline is much more than just purchasing a plane. The process requires continuous learning and adaptation to different challenges encountered at every stage that requires significant resources throughout the planning and development phase. You will most likely encounter legal, technical and regulatory challenges that you've never dealt with before.

That is why we have put together a quick guide to the 5 stages of starting an airline business, to help you take-off:

  1. Feasibility Study

  2. Business Plan & Funding Scope

  3. Team Building

  4. Aircraft Sourcing

  5. Application

1. Feasibility Study: The first step on your path to starting an airline should include the crucial step of checking the feasibility of your idea. Be brutal in this process - do not massage figures to make it work, if you need to massage figures – it is not feasible or justified to start an airline. Choose an independent consultancy firm to do the study for you. That way you will end up with an unbiased report.

2. Business Plan and Funding Scope: If the feasibility study shows a clear indication that the airline could be successful, the next step will be to move on to the production of the Business Plan. The business plan can serve two purposes:

a. To attract venture capital

b. To convince the Aviation Authority that you have a credible plan

Avoid buzzwords and cliches like "We will revoluntionise the Airline Industry" or "Our technology will set us apart from other Airlines". Instead tell the reader "what" you will do, "how" you will achieve it, and "what impact' this will have on the bottom line and their investment return

3. Team Building: The Venture Capitalist will want to do due diligence on your team. Having a good track record is essential. Team members must have done a start-up before or at least have a track record in Airline Management. The recruitment of the team must be carefully considered as it will have a direct impact on your chances to secure the needed funding.

4. Aircraft Sourcing: Once you have the capital, you can only spend it once. Aircraft sourcing is a time-consuming and technical-specific activity. It should be left to the experts. Balancing upcoming maintenance inputs against purchasing price is a balancing act that requires in-depth knowledge of Maintenance programmes and the associated costs of performing these. An aircraft that is due a significant maintenance input like a 'D check' should have a price to reflect this.

5. Application: Please be aware that you cannot apply for an Airline Operating Certificate without an Aircraft. Once you have the funding, the team, and the aircraft, you can engage with the Aviation Authorities. There are normally 5 phases associated with the application stage.

5 Phases of Airline Application

  1. Pre-application: The pre-application phase includes a meeting with the Aviation Authorities in which the proposed start-up is discussed. This is the perfect opportunity to discuss the application and to align expectations.

  2. Formal Application: This phase includes the completion of the Air Operation Certificate application form and the Route Licence application form.

  3. Document Review: During this phase, the Aviation Authorities will review the documentation to support the Airline. This includes Flight Operations Manuals, Maintenance Manuals, Cabin Crew Manuals, Ground Operations Manuals, Saftey, Compliance, and Security Manuals.

  4. Audit Phase: During the audit phase, the Aviation Authorities will assess the airline facilities, the safety management system, and sometimes they will interview the management team.

  5. Certification Phase: This is the final phase in the Airline Start-up. If the Aviation Authorities are satisfied with the previous phases, they will issue the Air Operator Certificate and Route Licence. Once these certificates are issued, the Airline can start to operate.

Every year, several startups submit proposals to start airlines, but only a few actually get to the certification stage due to the rigorous nature of the process. Aviatica assists startups throughout the entire process from application to launching. We have assisted over 7 airlines till date including DragonFly Executive Air Charter, Fly Viking, West Air Aviation, etc.

Contact us today to get started on your new airline business:

Tel: +44(0) 333 9000 737

Mobile: +44(0)773 9165 442

A guide to starting your Airline
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