When we last took a look at Baltia Air LinesÂ they had just been accepted into the Federal Aviation Administration’s Safety Management System pilot program. They had even debuted an outstanding new livery.Â Today, we have even more positive news about this 24-year old airline start-up. They are now training their first flight crews!
Earlier this week, Baltia issued a statement to their investors and the world that they have taken another step towards full operation.
Many of you may be curious about Baltia’s goal. Their dream is to become a leading airline between the United States and the former Soviet Republics’ markets. They have announced that they will be based at New York’s JFK airport and that their initial route will be from there to St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo International Airport (LED).
Better still, they are going to do this with a classic Boeing 747-200.
Some investors do not believe that Baltia Air Lines will ever get off the ground and have voiced their concerns on the company’s Facebook page. While their concerns are valid, we have to point out that Baltia Air Lines has never been closer to liftoff than they are right now.
Actually, they have already taken flight – sort of. This year, they started conducting business,Â operating a Cessna Citation on various routes from Oscoda, Michigan. A far cry from the 747-200, but at least a first step.
As a “certified” classic aircraft aficionado and AirlineReporter.com’s Russian Aviation expert, the idea of a U.S. airline operating a 742 to Russia totally thrills me. Â As an aviation economist, I am also confident that their business model is unorthodox, but potentially successful.
The low acquisition cost of these classic 747s allows Baltia much more freedom in configuration and utilization. The lower monthly payments (if any) on the airframes will easily offset any differential in fuel costs they may face. If they are indeed going for a “luxury” or “boutique” airline image, they will likely be able to command an equal, if not slightly higher, yield as their competition. If they can spread the word and get forward bookings, I do not see any unique concerns they could face.
I remain hopeful for Baltia. One way or another, I hope to find myself on their very first flight.