Alpha One Airways Launched by 19-Year-Old Entrepreneur
Getting a job in Britain is tough for a 19-year-old, especially one who has given up his A-Level studies. And it is all the more difficult for one who wants a job in aviation. So what does one do with a pilot’s license and no A-Levels? For Martin Halstead of Oxfordshire, the answer was “start an airline.” Alpha One Airways had its maiden flight on Monday from Southampton to the Isle of Man.
For those who remember the 1980s, the idea of a British teenager with ambition is difficult to believe. Times have changed, and in some respects, the entrepreneurial culture of the UK has caught up with that in the US (and some might argue has exceeded it). After all, this is not Mr. Halstead’s first company. He is funding Alpha One with the proceeds from the sale of EMAtch, a flight simulation company he started when he was 15.
Like any good businessman, he is filling a need he sees, specifically routes that are too small for the larger airlines. The Southampton-Isle of Man route is such, and he intends to fly from Southampton to Edinburgh and Cardiff before too long. Regular service begins on November 21, with two flights a day to the Isle of Man. In-flight refreshments are included in the ticket price, and the airline is ticketless for added convenience. The BAE Jetstream Mr. Halstead bought (and he plans on leasing another) seats 18, and the fare one way is £49 Southampton to the Isle of Man, £29 from Blackpool (where the plane will stop en route from Southampton).
Already compared to Sir Richard Branson of Virgin, Mr. Halstead is still one of a kind. “I'm probably the only airline boss in the UK who will actually fly the planes,” he told the BBC. He added, “Age is just a number. I plan to bring an innovative, 21st Century approach to regional aviation and I also have an older, experienced team to call on.” He has a staff of 26 employees.
The airline business is a tough one in the UK, in Europe, and the world. But the worst that could happen is a bankrupt airline. He would be in the company Pan Am, Delta, and United. But he might also succeed, and he starts out with a significant advantage – everyone wants him to make it work. For the first flight, he said he was “excited and numb.” Those looking on from the sidelines are simply amazed, and delighted.
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