a plane flying in the sky

Let me start by saying that in a travel world governed by protecting share price and shareholder value, rather than innovation and driving hospitality standards I admire those that take big swings or find new ways to please all. I don’t think Global Airlines will deliver in either of those avenues.

I’ve never been one to shy away from opinion and I’ve seen more than my fair share of big talking egos in the travel industry over the last decade. Few of these machismo ego types have been have been more easily ignored than James Asquith, the “founder and CEO” of paper airline, Global Airlines. I’d love to be wrong about this, I just so rarely am.

Almost as if my readers know I have a nose for this sort of extreme thing, I’ve had more people get in touch begging for content than virtually any other airline topic in the decades long history of this blog.

I aim to please, so it’s my pleasure to lay out a hybrid article out below, sharing some vital and factual industry hurdles facing Global Airlines first. Then, I’ll interject my brief, juicy and amusing encounters with this ultra visionary money spinner and social count fluffer and share some real, no BS woes.

a plane flying in the sky

Real Industry Hurdles For Global Airlines

Seth Miller of paxex.aero fame may not be the most glass half full member of the airline press thanks to his pedantic attention to detail but by sticking to that script, it rarely make him flat-out wrong about something.

He “gets” the airline industry and its regulatory processes at a very gritty level, whether that’s seemingly simple things like certifying an airline seat for flight (not simple at all), or applying for air operator certificates (extra not simple at all) in well regulated flying markets like the US, Europe or UK. I like him for that, a lot.

In Seth’s great piece about Global Airlines, he not only lists the mountain of vital regulatory challenges facing Global, he also shares how they apparently lied about having already achieved some of these regulatory milestones via the airlines pitch deck. The airline told Seth they’ve “moved on” from that deck.

But let’s be clear: there’s no grey here. Many of these claims are black and white, true or untrue, where one claim cannot be true if the other is not. Knowing the orders and processes involved in this highly complicated dance to become a real passenger flying airline, many are simply not true, according to the article.

  • Air Operator Certificate: Global will need CAA approval and some checks from the FAA for an AOC and this is a crazy complicated and stringent process in which two highly bureaucratic bodies must be satisfied over a myriad of checks.
  • Landing Slots at Prime Airports: Global says they’ll fly New York-London as their big route launch. Last I knew, a pair of slots at Heathrow cost about $70 million and weren’t exactly on eBay. JFK… yeah. Gatwick isn’t exactly cheap either.
  • Seats And Other…Parts: You really should read Seth’s article linked above. Many of the seats Global Airlines claims it will use were purely concepts that don’t exist, or are preexisting seats which bring zero innovation. They’re super expensive too, these airline seats. Some business class seats cost more than $100k per seat!

Some rather insane people have tried to create a narrative that these hurdles are like a young Richard Branson and the doubt he faced when launching the truly iconic Virgin Atlantic. Well done, Global PR team, and solely Global PR team.

Let me just say I’ve very been fortunate to meet Sir Richard many a’time and the man is a very serious “business first” clever machine and Virgin’s entry hurdles and scope to innovate in the year 1984 bear no resemblance to today in 2023. That’s just silly. Nice try, Global PR team — you may actually be worth keeping around.

a screenshot of a computer
While others airlines launch sales to fill seats, global speaks of global scarcity for theirs.

Fake Followers, Ban Rumors And Angry Messages

Around the time British Airways got some A350’s delivered, James Asquith very briefly followed me on Instagram. He immediately messaged and was fuming that he wasn’t invited to the media event which saw virtually all print and television outlets in the UK alongside many bloggers and social media people onboard to tour the new delivery.

He sent me some weird messages, got angry when I didn’t agree with his tirade and then unfollowed me pretty shortly thereafter. Sorry, “bro”, I don’t do the follow for a follow thing. Good luck with that though!

I’d never heard of him and found it weird that he had “a million” followers on the platform. Someone later confirmed to me some hilarious purchases of followers and bots. That tracks, considering Global, an airline which only exists on paper right now already has 447,000 followers on Instagram.

Zero flights, zero customers, almost half a million social followers? Ok then…

Despite global recognition and routes, a famous founder and almost 40 years in the business with internationally known celebrities regularly tagging them, Virgin Atlantic only has 646,000. The biggest global US carriers hover around the 1 million mark.

Because I keep my lawyers busy enough, I certainly won’t outright claim that James’ entire online presence and that of Global is a sham, but I am not-not claiming that either?

Though I never actually saw the printed list of “banned” flyers to confirm and can’t verify myself, I have it on very good authority that at least a couple airlines temporarily banned this guy from flying because of antics aimed at drawing social attention and disrupting cabin service. Maybe that’s why he needs an airline of his own?

Follow The Money?

I am not a forensic accountant. I make no claim to prove any wrongdoing, and I am only here to ask reasonable questions. James Asquith theoretically founded something called Holiday Swap and it claims to be huge. I don’t know of a singular ‘Holiday Swap’ customer that has ever actually made a booking.

That current/former business of Mr. Asquith has always been mired by rumors. If it’s somehow part of the bankroll for this new Global Airlines, that is something regulators should probably look to understand more, along with the true origins of some of the financing.

Wouldn’t it be good to know the true investors of an airline, and the entities which they represent? I’ve heard caviar is often served!

a man standing on a dirt path with bushes and mountains in the background

Safety Drives Airlines More Than These People Know

There’s a lesser talked truth about success in the airline industry and it’s not how fancy a seat is, the global airlines alliances one possesses, credit card perks on offer or what booze is served on board. It’s safety.

S-a-f-e-t-y is actually really what drives airlines more than most factors. It’s not sexy to talk about nor easy or fun to message, which is why we don’t really talk about it — but it’s so real.

Corporates buy travel on airlines with impeccable safety records so that they can feel confidence that their key stakeholders are in good hands. Families choose airlines that are known to put safety first for all the obvious reasons.

Whatever you think about James Asquith, and yes many travel social media follow for follow types do love him, I ask you one thing. Do you ever feel “safety culture” when you browse his Instagram, or that of Global, even? Was Fyre Festival safe?

You tell me.

Serious airlines spend serious money, time and resource to develop safety cultures which keep them out of the news, rather than do odd things to try to gain news.

Business In The Front, Party In The Back

If you look at recent airline upstarts which went from paper, to planes flying actual passengers, they’ve been like mullets. I mean that with real love.

Business in the front, party in the back.

They’ve been founded by highly credible people like David Neeleman who has been a true innovator and business leader in travel. The guy founded JetBlue which was the first to introduce live TV, leather seats in economy and innovative f&b offerings.

His most recent airline, Breeze, which has flown millions of people has just 63K followers, by the way.

These airlines were business first approaches where all of the dense regulatory hurdles were cleared with clarity and purpose thanks to other highly credible people hired to ensure regulators knew how seriously these things are taken. You should not be able to fudge safety and standards. No one’s life should be taken for granted.

Unlike Global Airlines pitch deck, these flying upstarts were not telling investors they had air operator certificates when they didn’t, or slots when they couldn’t legally have them, because they didn’t actually have an air operator certificate.

Once the business was in place, the rest came after. It’s just impossible to take a company seriously when they don’t understand this fundamental, vital part of the airline business. You can try all the wacky stuff you want once you’re air worthy and have slots.

I firmly believe that the best investment in Global Airlines is the sweatshirts from their online store, because unlike their planes, they may actually fly one day if you wear one on another airline. And if you’re really lucky, and this turns out to be the Fyre Festival documentary I think it will be in my heart, you’ll have an eBay memorabilia piece to wear to music festivals.

If I’m wrong, I will make (1) Instagram reel, (1) Facebook post and (1) blog post for James bowing in apology and waive my usual fee.

Global Airlines

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Ah Holiday swap, millions of customers but very little in the accounts on companies house until they sold a few million in shares 🤷‍♂️

  2. The AOC comment is not quite right. The FAA won’t have anything to do with Global getting a UK AOC – that’s purely a matter for the UK CAA. As indeed is the operating licence. And given the UK and the US have an open skies agreement, if the UK issue the licences (biiiiig If I know!) then it would be hard for the US to stop them…

  3. I thought it was unusual to buy metal years before the first flight, huge debt to service, huge plane to pay storage and maintenance for with no income stream, especially when that particular size is abundant on the secondary market as few will buy it. Wonder if it’s cost effective in a one class LCC model.

  4. This reads like an ad for Global. Very clever guerilla marketing. Even the goading to purchase a sweatshirt.

        1. Fortunately I think they know people like me don’t tend to respond well to that sort of thing. I got some amusing “we’re legit” messages and give their PR team all the credit for performing their duties under brutal circumstances.

  5. Gilbert – just the analysis I was looking for. Thanks.

    I wish I could, but I can’t see how this will work. The 447K followers on Instagram is disturbing.

    1. They brought an existing account of a Turkish plane spotter and rebranded it to have a head start.

  6. Don’t National Press hacks have a finely-tuned BS-meter these days? They’ve all imbibed in the ‘Global KoolAid’ and unquestionably swallowed Asquith’s watery tales

    1. It’s been disappointing to see things regurgitated. I do think this is endemic of the fast media system where one writer just spits the same thing they heard/read from another source since it’s regarded as safe and right — even when it’s not. The fact that none dug into the past or present state is a joke.

  7. Love this article Gilbert. None of his businesses are legit. It’s all a scam, like you mentioned you’ve never met anyone who has used holiday swap, no one I know has ever heard of it. If you go check the comments on that page you can clearly see it’s all bots commenting on it! As far as global airlines goes that shit will never work, it only will finance his Jetset lifestyle of him & his lil delusional girlfriend!

  8. Absolutely, I understand the skepticism. In my world, I’ve seen a lot of startups come and go. While not everyone might know about Holiday Swap, that doesn’t mean it’s without potential. Some of the best ideas start off under the radar. And sure, comments on a platform can sometimes be misleading, but it’s key to separate the noise from genuine feedback.

    As for Global Airlines, the airline game is tough, but every new idea faces doubt initially. Personal jabs about founders? Let’s leave that out and focus on the business side of things. After all, facts and performance speak louder than speculation.

  9. 100% right! From the moment I’ve heard of this start up, things didn’t add up, nothing was making sense. I understood the aircraft was bought by a wet lease portuguese company called Hi Fly, and he was already claiming they had purchased their first aircraft… For 2 years in the making and still no concrete actions or milestones were achieved. Also, even if the company makes it, what about in 15 years once all the A380’s flight time left is gone? Even their logo has zero appeal!
    My only advice to people is, be cautious with your money if someone wants you to purchase some shares or a plane ticket to nowhere. As a final note, this reminds me of truck company Nikola… a famous delusional story!

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