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Global Airlines CCO Optimistic, Committed to A380

The start-up will buy more A380s and is not considering using any other aircraft type in the near future.

Global Airlines’ first A380 (Photo: Global Airlines)

Global Airlines CCO Richard Stephenson spoke at the Routes World conference in Istanbul last week, giving a keynote on the state of Global Airlines and taking questions from the audience. Stephenson outlined the start-up airline’s bold plans. 

Global Airlines’ Fleet Plan

Stephenson stated that Global Airlines is not looking to diversify its fleet in the foreseeable future and will stick to a single type, the Airbus A380-800, with four frames already being acquired. When asked about the airline’s development, Stephenson stated that the first aircraft will undergo retrofit ‘in the coming weeks.’ The airline is also looking to purchase more A380s that are already in the market to expand its fleet. 

The choice of aircraft is definitely a unique one. It will be the first airline to start operation with A380s and will also become the only all-A380 airline in the world, if it does take off at all. Name recognition is important in the airline business, and purchasing four A380s in 2023 is some publicity for the airline. 

The barriers to entry in the market, especially in the long-haul segment, are fairly high considering several factors, such as the cost of equipment and operations. Large capital is needed to acquire and operate aircraft, train and hire crews, and much more. Also, the market is consolidating, and no market in the world is more consolidated than the transatlantic. Recent acquisitions of SAS, ITA and Air Europa, in addition to United’s decision to terminate an agreement with Aer Lingus, are showing a market more consolidated than ever. 

Network Potential

Global Airlines is set to start flying next year from London to New York and Los Angeles. It is not yet clear which airports it will be operating from in London or New York. It is likely that Gatwick will be the airport of choice, as slots are less constrained and operational costs are lower. The airport is also capable of accommodating the jumbo jet. Nothing is confirmed at this stage yet, though.

The initial frequency is said to be daily to New York City and four times weekly to LA. According to Stephenson, Global Airlines is not only looking at the transatlantic market but is also actively looking at destinations in other parts of the world. 

The ‘Initial’ Markets

London to New York

There are too many titles to this route: the most profitable, the busiest, or the most frequent long haul route in the world are just some. With 35 daily flights one-way as of 2023, there is a lot of demand and a lot of money flowing back and forth.

Here is who Global will be up against:  

London Heathrow to New York JFK
British Airways, American, Delta, Virgin Atlantic and JetBlue

London Heathrow to Newark
British Airways and United

London Gatwick to New York JFK
British Airways, Norse, Delta, and JetBlue

Frequency

LHR-JFK

LHR-EWR

LGW-JFK

Total

Aircraft

British Airways

8

2

1

11

B77W & B772 & B78X

American

4

 

 

4

B77W & B772

Delta

2

 

1

3

B763 & A339 (1)

Virgin Atlantic

6

   

6

A333, A339 & A35K

United

 

7

 

7

B763 & B772 (1)

JetBlue

2

 

1

3

A321

Norse Atlantic

   

1

1

B789

Total

22

9

4

35

 

* Information from Flightrader24

London to Los Angeles

Again, the ‘Big Three’ dominate this busy and highly profitable route. There is no competition outside of three joint ventures from Heathrow, and from Gatwick there are only three weekly flights, which are outside of the ‘Big Three’ joint ventures.

London Heathrow to LAX
United, American, British Airways, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic

London Gatwick to LAX is operated only by Norse Atlantic Airways, three times a week 

Three Alliances plus Low-Cost and Hybrid: Consolidated and Saturated

There are low-cost, hybrid, traditional carriers present in this market. Norse offers the cheapest flights; JetBlue offers an innovative experience with Mint and competitive pricing; United has the product, customer base, connections at Newark, and frequency; Delta and Virgin Atlantic work together in a joint venture with established customer bases and hubs on both ends; British Airways and American are together the market leaders, with a focus on premium from JFK’s business and first class offerings and hubs on both sides as well. 

Global Airlines will not be low-cost as it is set to offer a ‘new experience.’ Their code-share prospects do not look great; therefore transporting point-to-point passengers will be the focus. 

Still, Stephenson is optimistic, stating that there is space for Global and it will not be a problem as the market is huge.

A380 is Unusual for London-New York

The city pair undoubtedly has the demand to support multiple A380s per day. However, airlines tend to use smaller and premium-heavy aircraft to provide more frequencies, as NYC-London is very much a business-focused market. The United 767-300ER is a prime example with less than 100 economy seats, and so is the British 777-300ER, with only 132 in economy but 76 in business and eight in first.

If Global is able to operate its aircraft efficiently and present a good product, there is a chance of success, like recent start-up successes such as Taiwan’s Starlux. Global seems to be determined to do both, as they are working with Hi Fly as their official partner, and lifestyle brands including American Express and Laurent Perrier. 

Bottom Line

Global Airlines is received with mixed opinions, with aviation geeks loving the idea of more A380s flying but most industry experts expressing their doubts. They are reasonable doubts, with the strategy not making quite a whole lot of sense across the board and them entering into an increasingly consolidated transatlantic market that leaves very little room for carriers outside of the three major joint ventures.

Anthony Bang An

Author

  • Anthony Bang An

    Anthony is an airline enthusiast who also loves traveling. He grew up around the world from St. Louis to Singapore and now lives in Amsterdam. He loves long-haul flying and finds peace in the sound of engine cruising. Fresh out of high school, he aspires to be working in the aviation industry and share his passion for the sky. 

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