Avatar Airlines Announces Letter Of Intent To Buy 30 Boeing 747s, Raise $300 Million Starting This Week

Barry Michaels has been trying to start an airline for at least 28 years. First under the name Family Airlines, and then Avatar Airlines, he’s had an idea to fly Boeing 747s between leisure destinations. He went to prison for tax and securities fraud in connection with the venture. The DOT insisted at the time that he give up control of the project.

He’s kept trying, and kept failing, for three decades. He’s even claimed no longer to be involved with the airline (even as he represents himself as running it). Last year he appointed someone else as CEO trying to gain traction.

However in his latest press release he’s back as CEO and he’s announcing:

  • That he’s provided a Letter of Intent to Boeing to buy 30 Boeing 747-8 aircraft. Boeing isn’t even willing to claim this despite not recording a single aircraft order in January.

  • And he’s marketing 20 million shares of stock starting this Wednesday. Ruh roh. (They previously tried to raise money on IndieGogo but were kicked off.) They don’t say how they plan to price these shares but 7 months ago said their share offering would be for $300 million.

If you want a good laugh here’s a copy of Avatar Airlines letter of intent sent to Boeing. I guess Michaels’ plan to acquire 747s through social media didn’t work out.

If Avatar ever gets money – and uses that money to start an airline – the plan they laid out would be to build their 747 route network:

avatar airlines route map

The idea was to squeeze 581 passengers into a 747 in order to produce low seat costs. That’s great if you can fill the plane, but an empty 747 has very high per passenger costs. First flight of the morning on Tuesday and Wednesday from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, and Saturday early morning Vegas to Albuquerque aren’t likely to be winners.

Their secret sauce was going to be advertising, selling sponsorships to cover free wifi and make a profit painting planes in Coca Cola, Burger King, and Red Bull branded livery. The overhead bins will advertise men’s grooming. And they promise starting pay for captains is $275,000.

avatar airlines branded planes

Michaels by the way ran as an independent candidate for US Senate from Nevada.

When it didn’t work out he shopped around his vanity license plate – and his car.

What will he sell if this venture doesn’t work out again?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It seems unlikely to happen and even more unlikely that I would ever use the airline, but I like the idea of the -8 being ordered. What a great plane.

  2. Oh where to begin……

    1) What high school kid did the website as a class project??
    2) Tweet says 747-400 – don’t they have a high cost of operations?
    3) Low cost seats yet amazing high end food choices
    4) The website main page shows the livery (minus tail) of a KLM plane
    5) Hotel & Rent-a-car partnerships – using old outdated logos – I wonder if these hotel companies know this ?

    At least I had a great laugh with my morning coffee on a slow news day. Thank you !

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