Insane Airline Startup Offers British Airways A 22% Stake In Exchange For Their Used 747s

Avatar Airlines is the gift that keeps on giving. Barry Michaels has been trying to start an airline for about 30 years. He first pitched the idea of flying 747s on domestic leisure routes when he called it “Family Airlines.” He even went to prison for tax and securities fraud in connection with raising money for the venture.

Fundamentally flying 747s domestically makes very little sense. In non-pandemic times maybe you can fill the plane on peak days between major markets offering low fares. But how do you make this work between Albuquerque and Las Vegas on a Wednesday? (Yes, that’s their plan.)

Michaels keeps plugging away though, distributing press releases every few months.

Last month I covered their latest investor pitch for the 30 year old idea that’s never launched: “Why put new investment dollars into old deals and ideas?”

Now though I think my head is about to explode.

  • They’ve made an offer to British Airways to acquire their fleet of 26 retiring Boeing 747-400s.

  • They want to pay for these planes by offering a 22% stake in Avatar Airlines.

  • And they want to become BA’s U.S. domestic partner, notwithstanding its joint venture with Ameican Airlines it seems.

Avatar Airlines decided to file their letter with the U.S. Department of Transportation though it’s not in any way relevant to anything in front of DOT.

I think my favorite part of all of this is the reason they think they have a competitive advantage over other airlines – since they aren’t an airline yet, they aren’t losing money!

Since Avatar isn’t currently operational, it isn’t hemorrhaging millions of dollars in monthly losses that its future competitors currently suffer.

What’s more, since they don’t have any flights, they don’t have to make investments in extra cleaning as a Covid-19 precaution. This is real. You can read the full letter (.pdf) yourself. There’s more gold, such as that the British Airways 747s are merely transitional for the carrier – they still intend to get Boeing to manufacture them 747-8s “when the company is cash-rich.”

As far as I can tell, Michaels hasn’t this time around raised enough to cover the fuel surcharges for award tickets to fill up a single British Airways Boeing 747 flight.

(HT: Ishrion Aviation)

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, 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. Does anyone know what this guy does to, like, buy food and shelter for himself while pursuing this idea for 30 years? Does he have a day job? Is he independently wealthy? Or does he periodically find some dope to infuse cash into his “airline” and he lives off of that money while pretending to actually procure some aircraft?

    Sometimes with these guys I just wonder how do they put food on the table?

  2. Ignoring the fact that this chap is just trying to drum up publicity for this imaginary airline.

    The one major hole in his plan (again ignoring the fact this isn’t an airline and doesn’t have a coherent business plan) is that most of the BA 747s are already being scrapped…

    He is able to buy pieces of them from the plane reclaimers though, so maybe he can build one himself?

  3. Paging Mr. Michaels!

    Tower Air just called & asked that it be allowed to remain undisturbed, resting in peace since its 17 year run from 1983 came to an end in 2000.

    Oh, btw, Dave Calhoun, CEO of McBoeing, also called & he shouted so loud I had to hold the phone a foot away from my ear.

    He said he’s already told you 1,000 times that they’ve killed the 747-8 program for good, & “N-O! NO” they’re not restarting it for your pie-in-the-sky delusions that someday your fantasy airline will get off the ground.

    When he stopped bending my ear, Calhoun offered to buy you the latest deluxe version of Microsoft’s 747-8 flight simulator if you just agree to leave him & McBoeing alone for good.

  4. Brian, talking about the AA, I was a (cheap) monthly member for years only payin £4 a month, never needed to call them out, but they kept taking the money. Then 4 months ago, M1, bang, fanbelt broke, was lucky near services. Phoned AA, local garage came out , nice guy said sorry I can’t help. What you pay a month. Basically I just come out to talk to you, tell you what’s wrong, and tell you to upgrade. I wasted years of £4 a month, they need to go under.

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