You know the old joke. How do you make a small fortune in the airline business?
You start with a big fortune!
There's a lot of truth to that joke, but it does not stop entrepreneurs from starting airlines. Rarely, it works. (Think Southwest Airlines.) But usually investors lose everything. I'm looking at you, PeoplExpress (2014 version) and SkyBus. Even airlines run by professionals with sound business plans fizzle, like Eos and MaxJet, which flew all-business class planes to Europe from the U.S. in the mid-2000s.
You can imagine my skepticism when I received a release this week from JetPurple Airwayz. [That 'Z in Airwayz is for real.] This is another carrier that wants to introduce private-jet style travel to the masses.
Part of the plan is at least viable, though I doubt this group can pull it off. According to founder Adam Blumenkranz, who is new to the airline business, JetPurple plans to start with 30-seat ATR-42 twin turboprops in an all-business class configuration. If all goes well - and it won't - the airline soon will fly from Scottsdale, Arizona to Las Vegas, San Diego and Puerto Panasco, Mexico. JetPurple will use private terminals, so travelers likely won't need major security checks.
With the right leadership, that model could work. But JetPurple is also promising to bring all-business class international flights to Burbank Bob Hope Airport in the Los Angeles basin. As you can see above, Blumenkranz dreams of flying to Seoul, Shanghai and Singapore. This is absurd.
The release even includes pricing. You'll be able to fly to Seoul for $3,500 or Singapore for $5,000. The release does not, however, say anything about how passengers will clear U.S. customs in Burbank. Nor how a 737 is going to reach Singapore from a short runway.
"JetPurple Airwayz expects to purchase one or more Boeing 737-800-BBJ (Boeing Business Jets) featuring first class and business class cabins with a maximum 40 seat configuration," Blumenkranz said in the release. "On JetPurple's four weekly U.S. to Asia flights, all first class seats recline to full-flat sleeping positions. Some jetliners will be equipped with private staterooms, providing its highest-paying passengers in-flight bedrooms and bathrooms."
At first, I thought this was a joke. And it essentially is is. But to my amazement, the local newspaper in San Diego, the Union-Tribune, wrote a serious story about JetPurple.
"An icon of the brand is sure to be its spacious, reclining purple chairs that are big enough to stretch out into full sleeping position, the newspaper said. "The purple theme is used throughout for carpet, pillows and blankets. As expected, it is also the color of its logo."
You may wonder if JetPurple knows when its first flight will be. Not surprisingly, the company's founder has no idea. "It is unclear when in 2016 the airline will start service but Blumenkranz said he hopes it will be early in the year," the newspaper said.
Should we take bets? Will JetPurple ever fly? Will you rush to invest?
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