Brand-new Air Italy 737 MAX 8 looking sharp – Photo: Air Italy
This past Friday, Air Italy received their first 737 MAX 8 aircraft at a delivery ceremony at Paine Field in Everett, WA. Dignitaries from Air Italy were joined by his Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, Group CEO for Qatar Airways. In July of 2016, Qatar Airways agreed to purchase a 49% stake in the airline (known previously as Meridiana), with the brand being re-launched as Air Italy in March 2018. As with any event involving Mr. Al Baker, this was a fancy affair, and included a few priceless soundbites.
When the Air Italy brand launched earlier this year, they announced their goal to disrupt the Italian market, and create a ’œcredible alternative’ for Italians. From their home base of Milan’“Malpensa Airport, Air Italy intends to offer both short- and long-haul routes. The airline will shortly be launching flights to the United States, with a daily service to New York (begins 6/1) and four-times-per-week service to Miami (starts 6/8). The next planned long-haul destinations for Air Italy are Bangkok and Mumbai, with service start dates yet to be announced.
Private jets lined up at MSP, downtown Minneapolis in the distance – Photo: Max Haynes | Metropolitan Airports Commission
For those of you wondering why is there a Super Bowl post on an aviation website; just imagine teams, fans, and corporate fat cats taking the train or bus to the big game. Not likely, right?
When the NFL playoffs started, this native Minnesotan booked a ticket from Seattle to my hometown of Minneapolis in hopes of watching my Minnesota Vikings play in the big game. While the eventual Super Bowl champ Philadelphia Eagles crushed that dream in the NFC Championship game, the scene in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul showed off a Super Bowl of aviation.
If you’re curious why the Super Bowl was played in a city where the game time high was 6 degrees, the NFL told Minnesotans “if you want to keep the Vikings, pitch in for a $1 billion indoor stadium and we’ll give you the big game.”
A quick look at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and smaller feeder airports shows that a whole lot of big-buck fans travel in style.
MSP can handle 275 private planes, so much of the action was at the St. Paul Airport (Holman Field) where private jets were lined up all over the airfield. Two other reliever airports in the metro area also had brisk business
Consider in 1967, Super Bowl 1 did not even sell out the Los Angeles Coliseum. For the 2018 game, Minnesota’s Metropolitan Airports Commission estimated 1,000 private jets made the trip to the North Star state. (My jet was in the shop, so I flew commercial…)
JL proposes under N300SW, the first Boeing 737-300, now at Frontiers of Flight Museum – Photo: Allan Klueckman (My brother)
In most standard relationships, AvGeeks are hard to love. Consider the effects of our passion: we are either always gone, pining to be gone, or perhaps spending hours on end stalking planes at the nearest airport. My friends and I often joke about how “mixed” relationships (that is, relationships with just one AvGeek partnered with a “muggle” – an outsider) are difficult in that there is a lot of compromise and time apart. It can add additional friction and baggage to the already complex reality of finding the perfect partner.
Consider for a moment that happiness is attainable to all. For most of my adult life, I didn’t believe that. The fact of the matter is, AvGeeks are hard to love. Of course, the solution is easy – find someone with similar passions and interests, things that you can bond over. Except upon a survey of the AvGeek landscape, it becomes apparent that women are an extreme minority. Much has been written about the severe lack of women in aviation, a concerning trend that unfortunately extends across most STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) industries.
Being a rational person I recognized that my passion would statistically put me at a disadvantage against my non-plane obsessed peers. Imagine how excited I am to come to you today (on Valentine’s day no less!) to tell you my AvGeek passion didn’t get in my way. Instead, it was the catalyst and enabler for my relationship with my now fiance and best friend…