a plane flying in the sky

I’m calling it right now, Global Airlines is the gift that will keep on giving this year.

If you’ve been flipping channels, it’s starting to feel like that point in the documentary where those involved got ahead of their skis and have doubled down on the very bad ideas which eventually create the “gotcha” Netflix title.

I do hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.

The first 2024 gift from Global has already landed, unlike their flights which were supposed to take off early this year. Those are now pushed back indefinitely. If any flights do take off, they’ll be charter flights to start, but the airline says it still hopes to kick off scheduled passenger services from the UK this year.

I’ve got a fairly damning piece of news for them on that front, which surely they know and anyone following this improbably story really should too?

a plane flying in the sky

Startups Yes, Global No…

I’ve gotta start by saying that I love new airlines. As mentioned when I first covered this bizarre story, I believe that free market competition and innovation is the only way we as passengers benefit to max effect with air travel.

Big airlines need to be challenged and when they are we often win, but this is not it. In recent years we saw upstarts like Norwegian champion “low cost, long haul” and really shift the price point in economy down on routes they serve.

Sure, it hasn’t been all that viable on the financial side, but there have been green shoots and very steady hands at work.

On the other end of the spectrum, Global is an airline that focused on an Amex “partnership” which turned out just to be that they would accept Amex if they ever sold tickets — and a bubbly announcement of a Laurent Perrier drinks “partnership” where the airline would serve real champagne in economy “if they could make the economics work” for them.

I could very easily announce a potential Rolex partnership, where I’ll give all readers a Rolex, if we can make the economics work for us. We’ll see where that goes! I got news, LP, you may want to hold the shipping on those cases. Anyway, back to the real stuff that matters.

The 18 Month Problem For Global

I mention this stuff, because they are the easy part of what those in the business call the airline “soft product” bits. These are things like pillows, which can easily be added and removed at will.

The hard part is the safety and licensing from aviation governing bodies, the long lead time in procurement of seats, seat back TV screens and other factors.

“Our intention is to commence with charter flights later in 2024 with scheduled services from the UK following that. We expect to operate our first round of passenger services in the next 12 months. However, we, like many other companies in aviation, have encountered some delays with our partners and multiple supply chain issues which we continue to work around and find solutions to.”

Global Airlines

Let’s be clear, supply chain issues is a laughable excuse in 2024 when you already have your planes delivered. It’s fair airlines who were waiting for Boeing 737-MAX10’s, but I when you’ve already got the planes and the “partnerships”, what’s the hold up?

UK CAA Says 6 To 18 Months At A Minimum To Get Licensed

The UK’s CAA is the governing body of aviation safety, licensing and most things that involve flying. To do any of the things it boasted about doing, Global Airlines will need an air operator certificate and license from the CAA. Rigorous safety checks and myriad business validity checks are a part of this.

In a matter of pure coincidence, sometime along the time of Global’s most boastful passenger service claims in the UK, the CAA updated their website with enhanced guidance on the process for obtaining these vital licenses and certificates.

On the process of getting a license, The CAA website states, verbatim…

While we seek to make a decision as soon as possible, our ability to do so depends on the complexity and scale of the proposed operation, as well as the timely provision of complete and accurate assessment information. The actual process could take anywhere from six to 18 months or even more for complex operations that all depend upon the applicant’s preparations.

UK Civil Aviation Authority

So yeah — if you’re an extreme optimist, you could say that a 2024 passenger flight from the UK is possible for Global Airlines. A best case of six months is theoretically possible, if you believe in miracles.

To GSTP’s understanding of the matter though; based on attempts to confirm whether an application has been filed directly from Global, and from sources intimately familiar with the licensing matter, no application has been filed to date.

In other words, it’s about to be February and it’s deemed virtually impossible by the governing body itself to get certified in under 6 months, and really, 18 months, or more is a distinct possible. For a brand new, totally inexperienced startup running on funds that are dubious at best, it really feels like 18 months is the real answer.

It was one thing when JetBlue launched in the UK, given their decades in service and a huge US presence with international services, plus experienced leadership team with even more decades liaising with international aviation bodies. Global is… not that.

The simplest question to ask is: if Global is real, why has it put off the one thing it truly needs to fly (a license) for multiple years now? Why the multi-year delay?

a sign in a building

Innovation, Yes — Global, No

No one likes a bully and I’m not trying to be one here.

I just happen to know too much about the ludicrous, entirely dubious businesses which preceded Global and a bit of personal interaction with the “founder” who is entirely unqualified to manage a Starbucks let alone a “global” airline.

Even the social media accounts have been confirmed to be purchases of pre existing accounts with lots of followers to feign notoriety or legitimacy for the brand. I couldn’t help in my initial post but wonder how Global in under a year, with no actual flights, had more followers than Virgin Atlantic.

It’s not as if Virgin is quiet on the socials, am I right? The old “believe half of what you see and none of what you hear” is an apt adage for this story.

I’m not picking on well intentioned people who are finding startup reality colder than the feel good movies make it seem. Making a difference or innovation in the world of aviation is more difficult than many think and I applaud real dreamers. Startups are the best thing for air travel and help push vital boundaries to greatness.

Every startup that launches with honesty and integrity and a mission to improve travel should be celebrated even if they don’t get there. In this case, it’s not what we’ve got and everything down to the OG business plan, which included “gamer class” and math which children would be ashamed of have been debunked.

Global have never been serious actors and the founders has demonstrably faked almost everything in their “professional” careers and I can only hypothesize they’ve more than likely crossed legal lines in multiple jurisdictions to reach this point. That is why this is the story that will keep on giving.

There’s a lot of transparency and show me what’s under the kimono that happens in the licensing processes ahead. It already seems like Global is trying to shy away from these by focusing on charter services using someone else’s air operator certificates.

I’d love to see finances from Holiday Swap brought under a microscope for sure. A simple look at web traffic shows virtually none, despite boastful claims of millions of users eclipsing the largest other names in the industry. Numerous reports suggest virtually all listings don’t actually exist.

Many additional claims have (since the time of publish) made the comment section below.

Airlines Aren’t Perfect But They’re Not Dumb

As someone who works in the business, I can tell you that airlines are nowhere near as dumb as people who have sub-optimal experiences and suddenly think they can “fix it” may think.

There’s a reason airlines fly one plane to one destination and another to another, and why most airlines do not serve Champagne in economy. There’s deep analysis done to add reason behind virtually every change and move.

Do people get it wrong? Totally. Is there room for an airline startup to completely re-think air transport? Absolutely. I urge people to challenge themselves to think how they would change things!

Again, this Global thing is not that. This is basically lets do the same thing but make it buzzier. But then once we get into it, let’s not make it buzzy if we will actually launch?

A “gamer” class from the original biz plan is already quashed. Champagne in economy, much the same. How do you create a “gamechanger” business class seat better than ANA or Qatar Airways? Great Q! How do you fill an A380, a gas guzzling four engine plane in the off-season, when even the largest airlines with the best marketing reach and co-branded credit cards to fill seats through loyalty and stickiness can’t?

Answer that and maybe you can get someone to fund your airline startup.

Change is slow in the airline industry, but many “bright” ideas have been considered and tested. Many airline groups even have innovation hubs, including Lufthansa Group and IAG. Regular challenges to the way of doing business are encouraged and when they make a point they’re often purchased or incubated for success.

We know Global hasn’t filed for an AOC yet they tell people flights are coming soon. It can’t be one or the other. If no AOC exists, which clearly it won’t for at least 6 more months and likely as long as 18 months, neither does Global.

Sticking a logo on an A380 and using someone else’s crew, seats and pilots does not make an airline. Hi-Fly already flies people and has for a long time.

I promise I won’t gloat when the gullible outlets that so glowingly covered the Global “launch” all start to realize that maybe those of us in this “little corner” of the internet really did know something about the opportunities and challenges in aviation all along.

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. Fantastic stuff! I think I’m biased, because that guy has this look that makes me want to punch him, so suppose I just want him to fail…but the whole thing has been getting more and more ridiculous. Adding the OnlyFans founder to the mix recently made it sound like Part 3 of the inevitable Netflix documentary about the scam that will come out. I hope they’re doing some filming so that we can see behind the scenes like in that Fyre one. Great TV.

    In the very unlikely event that they ever flew, I’d be too afraid to give that chancer my money anyway. And why would I when I have so many reliable options for the exact route he’s proposing? It’s a short hop anyway – the one least likely to need the space on an A380. Have done on an A321LR (well, in J) and it’s perfectly fine.

    Many thanks for actually diving into the facts.

    1. Agree entirely with all this – at least the “partnership” with Amex will mean you can chargeback your losses fairly quickly. Although I’ll be interested to see which payment gateway will be willing to take the risk on a startup airline run by a bloke with zero background in the industry – I, too, have taken a lot of flights, that doesn’t make me qualified to run an airline.

  2. I for one would happily pay extra to have my kids in a ‘gamer zone’ with the other kids, Mate! 😅 Absolutely brilliant idea. I’ll also pay extra to be as far away from that area as possible, particularly if they’re serving LP.

      1. Well, despite your bashing (you say you’re not, but you are playing a bit of the bully here, Mate), at least these guys are illustrating both innovation and strategic thought. Nobody else has put forward what’s an objectively great idea like that. 🙂

        And Mate – it CANNOT be an easy undertaking, starting an airline. It’s hard enough getting a building permit from the Town Hall, let alone dealing with the CAA for an AOC. 😅 If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it!

        It’s easy to criticise from the armchair on the sidelines. I say vocal support for these guys and stick it to BA! 😂

  3. It’s the total lack of industry knowledge that amazes me. My background is in airline commercial management and aeropolitics, all that stuff behind the scenes that make the industry work. When I read that the current plan of Global’s, to use a Maltese (or Portuguese?) AOC and OL to operate scheduled out of the UK… I just hope they know that’s just not possible since Brexit….

  4. Good piece. You referred in your original post to Seth Miller’s Paxaero comment about Global’s sister company Holidayswap and its strange “profile”. I commented there in the following terms a few months ago…

    “I share your concern that the backing for Global Airlines is not all it claims to be – shades of Theranos, Wework and FTX are coming to mind. The very first property shown on Holidayswap’s current website is a “luxurious 9-bedroom, 7.5-bathroom villa” in Florida, which is a commercial rental property and not a “holiday home swap”. But the address provided is a very small townhouse about 19 miles from the property described, with none of the facilities claimed.

    In the UK a huge percentage of properties are actually small furnished rentals in industrial areas in the north of England, all posted by the rental same agency, and not likely to be vacation properties: some have addresses which turn out to be buildings on industrial estates. Other properties have ludicrous photos and/or addresses. Limehouse Church Institute, a grade 2 listed Edwardian building, is shown for an apartment with an address of “Canary Wharf, Londra E14, Birleşik Krallık”, one of many seemingly uploaded at the same time by someone who one might suspect is from Turkey.

    Your assessment of the web traffic as being of the order of 1000 visits per month (i.e. 30-odd per day) compares to that of competitors like Homeexchange (300 thousand per month) and Lovehomeswap (160 thousand). Homeexchange says it has 150k “subscribers in 145 countries”, compared to Holidayswap’s claimed 250k users in 185 countries 3 years ago, and a million today. So quite how the £330 million valuation quoted recently in a London “Times” newspaper is reached is hard to see.
    As a final “reality check”: on Trustpilot, information “written by the company” says “Holiday Swap is the world leader in home exchange vacations. With over 1,000,000 users in 185 countries”. But it has only 57 Trustpilot reviews, the earliest dating from just over 14 months ago, which is strange for a business started in 2017 and claiming to have 250,000 users by 2020. All except three are 5 star reviews, 23 of them being posted on only 4 days in September and December 2022. (The other 3 are highly critical 1 or 2 star). By comparison, rival business Homeexchange’s Trustpilot reviews start from 2013 and total over 5200, almost 100 times more than Holidayswap’s 57, despite having only one sixth of Holidayswap’s claimed users.
    One must hope that investors in this and Global Airlines have done their due diligence – certainly it seems questionable whether many other journalists have done so.”
    My recommendation…. buy shares in popcorn and continue to watch the show!

  5. That sums it up nicely. Even to get this far needed lots of money. How about some investigative reporting on how this “business'” is funded.
    I’d love to know if the work on that A380 being worked on in the desert of USA has been paid for in advance. If I was HiFly – -.
    And what sbout that ‘scrapper’ in France? Did someone actually pay REAL money for it?

  6. Great summary. I have every belief that this airline will never take off. The whole thing seems like some sort of scam, even Holiday Swap – never heard of a single person using it and it’s not ever really mentioned online.
    Asquith seems somewhat dodgy, he’s always claiming to be flying somewhere for “meetings”, but never seems to be doing anything meaningful at all, nothing adds up.

  7. The airline business have historically been used for scams, ponzi schemes and money laundering. South America is the best example for this, the Global story is a copycat of many South American startups that even had planes and never took flight, most of them were used to launder dirty money funneling supposed investments on a cardboard airline.

  8. I see how many feel this is scammy, but I don’t think it is. I think it’s major work to be done to start an airline, especially one with only A380s. They have a lot of high profile backers and board members, who I am sure did their due diligence before jumping on board.. I recently read they now have a plane that I approved to fly, which many people said they would never get close to. I say we give them a chance and see what happens.

    1. You read what?
      1) Please name a high profile backer
      2) What happened to the other planes they “bought”, how is it that this is the first, when there were already two?
      3) The plane is not “approved to fly” in the passenger sense. It can be ferried somewhere, but getting an AOC is nowhere close. They haven’t started.

      1. Mate – you’re so kneejerk negative – what’s your beef with them? You’re obviously lacking in some of the commercial background (only natural, given that you’re not behind the scenes), so I don’t understand why you’re so rampantly anti-Global?

        A quick search shows they have some understated heavy hitters. Anyone who is about to return an A380 to flight after two years in the desert must certainly have strong backers and industry partners, almost by definition from achieving that feat. Once that first one is airborne for the first time, the rest will certainly follow.

        Apparently, according to their latest, MSN 120 will be operated by Hi-Fly, so no AOC required until they’re flying from the UK.

        Try to be positive, Mate. And watch this space – I for one want to see them achieve every success they’ve promised. Particularly kids-free business class travel. 😀

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