Family Airlines Gets Smacked by the DOT

In news that will surprise absolutely no one, the DOT has sent a letter to Family Airlines saying that it needs to get its act together if it actually wants to fly. Riiight. That’ll happen. You have to read the request and Family’s completely inadequate response for maximum enjoyment. (Here’s a brief refresher on their silly plan for domestic 747s based in Vegas.)

You can read the letter from the DOT to Family Airlines (pdf) yourself, but in short, they aren’t happy. (FAI = Family Airlines, Inc)

Although a substantial amount of time has elapsed since FAI’s initial filing and FAI has submitted certain supplemental information to its application to the Department, FAI has to date failed sufficiently to meet its burden of demonstrating its fitness to allow us to continue processing its application. We remain concerned about FAI’s fitness in every area: managerial competence, finances, and compliance disposition.

The rest of the letter is a scathing rebuke of every single aspect of the airline. It is some fun-filled reading, but not nearly as much fun as the response from the “airline.” You can read that here (.doc).

The response was dated August 4, the same day the letter came from the DOT. Yeah, sure. It had three parts.

  1. This was simply a change of address. (It’s still wrong on the website.)

  2. This was a list of bios for all the new proposed officers without justifying how any of them are qualified. In particular, it didn’t address the DOT’s concern about having Dan Eikleberry as VP of Flight Ops. It also never even touched the concern that DOT had about Barry Michaels continued involvement.

  3. Finally, they addressed the DOT’s concern that they didn’t have enough money to run this operation. This is probably justified since the company’s balance sheet at the time of its previous submission showed $30 in assets. Seriously. The DOT says the airline would need $185 million to begin. The response? They are going to issue 22 million shares of preferred stock to institutional investors at $7.50 each for a total $165 million. Even a non-math whiz could figure out that’s still $20 million below what the DOT says they need. But what’s the chance they can even raise that? The only institutional investor that would be interested in this is one that is institutionalized.


I thought it would be fun to try to get Family Airlines’ take on this letter, so I called the number on the website. I was informed that “due to technical difficulties” my call could not be completed as dialed. Would the technical difficulty be that they don’t actually have any phones? I also sent them an email on Tuesday, August 11 but I haven’t heard back.

Methinks Family should look at an alternative business. If their website is any indication, they may be trying to get in on the healthcare game. Take a look:

Family Airlines Website

316 Responses to Family Airlines Gets Smacked by the DOT

  1. Konstantin von Wedelstaedt says:

    In unrelated news, I read about Baltia Air Lines purchasing their first aircraft (also a 747) after more than 15 years of startup-phase – that’s where it’s a bit similar to Family. They’ve been granted one weekly frequency between JFK and LED. Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me…

  2. Bobber says:

    Is Baltia Air Lines frequent flier programme really called “Freeloaders”…….????

  3. Tom says:

    I like the fact that they make you pay $50 for their Flight Crew Application: http://www.familyairlines.com/Pilot_Application.htm

  4. Nimitz says:

    wow. i mean, wow.

  5. David SFeastbay says:

    Maybe they should just put slot machines on the plane and just fly from coastal cities out over the ocean to international air space and let passengers gamble for a few hours and then return. They would make more money this way maybe…..lol

    Hey why not, if you take a day trip on a cruise ship to gamble you have to wait until they sail out to international waters, this way the plane can fly out in minutes and just circle for hours while people gamble. Hmmm….a A380 with it’s full double decks would be perfect, one deck filled with “standup” seats ala Ryanairs idea and the other a complete casino in the sky.

    Now watch someone steal my joke of an idea and get rich from it…..lol

  6. Axelsarki says:

    CF, I have been watching this since your first post on the subject, and I have learned that this Micheals guy is a nutjob convict, and I would not be surprised to hear that all the people listed in the response are fictional.

  7. LGBJohn says:

    I mostly feel bad for the 747-400 that’s tied up in all this. Poor airplane… it didn’t do anything to deserve this.

  8. A says:

    I have to admit checking out their website and the “proposed” in-flight meal options. Wow, a virtual TGI Fridays in the sky. Not sure I’m looking for overpriced bar food fare while flying but kudos to them for wanting to have a more complete list of options than dried out turkey sandwiches and mixed nuts.

  9. oldiesfan6479 says:

    A wrote:

    …“proposed” in-flight meal options….dried out turkey sandwiches and mixed nuts.

    “Mixed nuts”? I think you’re confusing inflight catering with the executive team.

  10. Shane says:

    The DOT letter was a fascinating read. I’m sure Mr. Balgobin had to fight off his whole department to be able to have fun and run with this one. In fact, I think FAI should be fined by DOT for wasting so much time with this application.

    Most interesting is would you (assuming you were an honest person trying to start an honest venture) convince somebody to lend you the scratch to purchase/lease a fleet of 747 plus all of the operating capital to run the airline when you only have 30 bones to your name? That teacher in Italy who submitted a bit for Alitalia has a better chance and a better plan at starting an airline! Hey, not a bad idea, Barry Michaels can move to Italy and call it Famiglia Aerea. Then he can just get the Italian government to pay for it.

  11. oldiesfan6479 says:

    Shane wrote:

    The DOT letter was a fascinating read.

    Yes, especially the grammatical errors and failure to proofread:

    “For each business, state the nature of the business, Mr. Michael’s title and duties related to the business, and what percentage of Mr. Michael’s time is committed/devoted to that entity.”

    The surname is Michaels, not Michael, so the possessive form is Michaels’ (apostrophe after the “s”). Elementary school English, at least when I went to school back in the…(never mind).

    “State whether FAI is willing to take any action to mitigate the Department’s concerns about the applicant’s lack of compliance disposition under the majority ownership and control of Mr. Michael and, if so, describe in detail what actions will be taken and when they will be accomplished.”

    Oops, now they think his name IS Michael. Where’s the proofreader? Probably at the next computer spelling the word “lose” as “loose.”

  12. CF says:

    Bobber wrote:

    Is Baltia Air Lines frequent flier programme really called “Freeloaders”…….????

    Oh yeah, sure is.
    http://www.baltia.com/earning.html

    These guys actually have an airplane and are determined fit by the DOT. I don’t see a chance of long term success, but they’re still light years ahead of Family.

  13. Dan says:

    Family Airlines phone has not changed. You mis-dialed. (702) 253-1520 works same for last two years. Since we get so few calls for FAI, the phone transfers to the Mini-Care side of the office. Just ask for Barry Michaels, CEO of Family Airlines. He also heads up the up-start Mini-Care clinic ($22 / visit, no matter what, no insurance accepted), also Nevada Only (a business that assist those wishing to file for corporation status in Nevada), and a few other small businesses from that office.

  14. ttjoseph says:

    My favorite quote from the DOT letter:

    “Applying this revised estimate of pre-operating expenses, assuming FAI’s first year operating projections remain the same, FAI would need to have access to $185.4 million to commence its proposed operations. FAI’s balance sheet at September 16, 2008, showed the applicant having total current assets of $30 and current liabilities of $14,496, giving the company negative working capital of $14,466.”

  15. Dan says:

    The letter from the DOT, dated 4 Aug, was never received at Family Airlines. We discovered it from email from one of your readers. DOT is not good about sending out mail — they just post stuff on their very difficult to navigate website.

    The letter from FAI you cited above is NOT our response to the DOT questions! It was only a coincidence that simple update letter was sent the same day the DOT had new questions. Strange that they would not have questions for almost a year, and then post questions with an 18 Aug deadline without sending it to FAI.

    FAI did send a very thorough response to the DOT yesterday. It is 101 pages long. It should be on the DOT website when Ms (not Mr!) Balgobin gets back from vacation and takes the time to read it.

    The DOT determined the $185 milllion number to operate for 3 months (with NO revenue? We have to be able to provide free flights for everyone, pay for fuel, gates, salaries, landing fees, sub contractors, with NO income?), not FAI. Nonetheless, we raised the price of the stock in the offereing to cover it. Well over $200 million anticipated in the private placement memorandum now.

    You would be amazed at how much we’ve done to get this airline started up on a shoe string. We’ve worked on required FAA manuals. We’ve negotiated with airports for gates and fees. (Yep, the bank account has only $30 in it, maybe less!) We have an amazing staff of dedicated (and some not so dedicated) volunteers. No pay. No benefits. Just hard work.

    Yes, our web site sucks! I must agree. We have no one to fix it up. And probably won’t until we get some funding. I didn’t even know there was a menu on it for in-flight food!

    And that (funding) is the answer to just about every problem mentioned in your blog, and by the DOT. Until we get some funding, our start up really drags. Volunteers come and go.

    We’ve got a staff of two lawyers and two accountants who have just wrapped up an extensive Private Placement Memorandum (prospectus for potential investors) that describes every detail of our planned operation. It includes an amazing excel spreadsheet that incorporates every cost, every income, and has variables for over 400 items (like fuel cost) that you can play ‘what -if?’ and see the effect on the bottom line. BTW, fuel costs (currently about $2.50 for airlines?) can be run up to over $6 / gallon, and FAI will STILL make a profit from day ONE.

    Yes, Barry Michaels is running several businesses from the same office. He has to make a living while we work on the airline. And he runs for Congress. He is devoted to making the community a better place, and to that end, is starting up a Mini-Care clinic for health care with no insurance required (nor accepted — $22 / visit, no matter what).

    Why didn’t CF try to call back when he dialed the wrong number?
    Same for Curt Lewis Associates. We’re here. We’ll talk.

  16. james says:

    Experts blame legacy carriers for jamming up airspace flying regional jets on a high frequency schedules to major cities.

    Yet here’s a carrier that’s flying one 747 to your city once on a Tuesday, with seasonal bi-weekly Saturday morning service — and people complain and want them to fail.

    Some people have no respect.

    oh – any word on who they’ll be code-sharing with?

  17. Dan says:

    Code-sharing. Good question. At this time, I don’t think there is any plan to code-share with anyone. No frequent flyer programs, just very very cheap fares, all day, every day.
    Much like Southwest Airlines, there is no plan to ‘interline’ your baggage, either. You check it in (no additional cost anticipated for checked baggage), you pick it up. Don’t expect to leap to another airline and have your bag show up!

    To keep an airline at absolutely lowest cost to passengers, this one will not be able to provide the luxuries found elsewhere. But if you wish to pay, the in-flight amenities will be nice — custom meals for everyone, DVD movies at each seat, video games for kids, ‘office class’ seats on the upper deck — all can be had for a little extra $$. But why make every passenger pay for things they don’t need? So…. the basic fare is CHEAP and gets you there! You want the other stuff? A meal? A drink? A movie? Oh.. that’s extra.
    Barry Michaels had thse ideas 18 years ago. Now, all the other airlines have caught on and are doing the same thing. And they even charge to check a bag. Family Airlines will NOT charge to check a bag. The overhead bins are always full anyway, so why encourage more stuff brought on board by charging for checked bags?

    The common misunderstandings: “You can’t make a profit charging these low fares on a 747!” Wrong. You can. Pack the plane with 581 passengers (this will NOT be a 16 hour flight to Hong Kong!). Carry LOTS of cargo (You can’t do that on a 737!) — cheaply — in fact, cheaper than any other air freight carrier domestically. Sell advertising space. Advertising pays big! Family Airlines will look like a giant Coke bottle (if we can get Coke to sponsor a plane) or a NASCAR race car with logos and ads all over it — inside and out. You lower the tray table, there will be ads for all the great restaurants in Vegas. The overhead bin doors will look like a city bus with advertising all over them. You close the ‘blue room’ door, and the back side will be a giant poster or ads for hotels or rental cars or Thigh Masters or Shamwow — we don’t care. Ads pay big money to the airline. You might see something you need or want.

    Advertising revenue is a big part of the Family Airlines plan. The ads, the cargo, the inflight sales — all contribute to the income, and that’s what keeps the air fares LOW!

    At $89 to Hawaii, wouldn’t you fly on Family Airlines? $19 LAS-LAX — you can’t beat that on Southwest anymore!

    As for crowded skies and airports and gates — Family Airlines will fly when the others don’t — we plan to go into and out of JFK in the middle of the night when we can get gates. Our schedules are part of what keeps our fares so cheap. But at these cheap fares, many will be willing to fly at 2:00 in the morning, if necessary. We think 581 passengers will fly whenever we fly.

  18. Tee says:

    Please fill out this survey on your views of the changes of in the airline industry. It’ll help my dissertation!!!
    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=KbUEdG15_2b7AOX3_2bEU5VeXA_3d_3d

  19. Bobber says:

    581 punters on a 747-400. Nice.

  20. asad says:

    “It includes an amazing excel spreadsheet” wow, that has to be an amazing spreadsheet, anyone have a link to the 101 page response ?

  21. Dan says:

    Cranky Flier calls this a ‘silly plan’ at the top of this page.
    Its only ‘silly’ if you don’t know the details, the background, the research and all the work we’ve done for about 10 years on this effort, and intensely for the past two years. You’ll need to understand some often overlooked concepts, and financial intracacies that make this thing work.

    There are several factors that contribute to this unusual concept’s successful formula. Probably the biggest factor is just how CHEAP you can buy a used Boeing 747 these days!
    The 747 can haul a LOT of people, if you cram them in with all-coach seating on the main deck and business class on the upper deck. And if you can buy the plane for $5 to $10 on the used-plane market (MUCH cheaper than a new 737!), fix them up with high-density seating, you’ll still have perhaps $15 million invested in a plane that can make a lot of money for you.

    The large top on the 747-300 and 747-400 make a big difference. The -400 would be better, (2 pilot crew, glass cockpit, more efficient engines), but they cost a lot more. The plan is to start with 747-300s (cheap, available) and after they run out of time, don’t do those expensive D checks, just dump them and replace with 747-400s now that you can afford them.

    Why does United and other airlines park their 747-400s in the desert? Because they do not wish to use them in the high-density seating, short haul, as Family Airlines will. That’s not their style. They factor in things like life-cycles and determine the best use of 747 is to fly only very long haul (SFO-HKG, LAX-SYD, IAD -PEK) to amortize the high cost of ‘cycles’ (Landings and takeoffs — wear and tear on planes). Family Airlines is not concerned with high cycles. When the planes reach limits, they’re gone. Someone else will rip out the seats and make freighters out of them. That’s what happens to old 747s every day.

    So, that’s the background behind the choice of the 747 as part of the ‘silly plan’.

    To keep fares cheap, the rest of the ‘silly plan’ relies on hauling cargo (up to 100,000 pounds, we’re told by Boeing, if we don’t carry center tank fuel, which we won’t because we won’t need it — not going very far!), and intense advertising revenue. I call it ‘advertising in your face’. Everywhere. This will be like a city bus.
    But — we’re betting passengers will put up with that (and maybe benefit if they see a good deal on a hotel or nice restaurant, or that Shamwow they sure could use!) at the cheap air fares we’ll offer.

    There is much that goes into this ‘silly plan’. Far more, and much of it ‘out of the box’ than the other airlines have considered in their traditional marketing and operations.
    Yes, this plan seems ‘silly’ but only if you cannot think beyond what you have experienced in traditional airlines.

    Only time will tell. That and a few investors, please. We’ll either be proven dead wrong, at which time we’ll fold up just like hundreds of other new airlines have in recent years, or we’ll succeed and be able to say “I told ya so!”. In the meantime, thousands of passengers will get some very cheap rides to typical big-city domestic destinations.

    Our first routes will probably be LAX-JFK-MIA triangle. Vegas will come later. Big plan is Vegas hub, but some major point-to-point non-stops like the LAX-JFK thing will be provided as well.

    Hawaiian Airlines serves Vegas, but the Big Island begs us to fly a 747 non-stop to Kona. Every Hawaiian apparently wants to visit Las Vegas!

    We were quite surprised at the markets (major city airports) that are offering large incentives if we would only fly a 747 into their airport. Discounts on landing fees, parking, gates, abound — if you will only bring a 747 in to fly their residents to Las Vegas or Hawaii, or other large US city.

    There IS a market for Family Airlines. And there are destinations. We simply do not see empty seats on our flights at our prices — IF we can only get some funding to get this thing off the ground!

    (And it would be nice to start getting paid a salary for all my work!)

  22. Dan says:

    Woops!

    That’s $5 MILLION to $10 MILLION per plane, not $5 to $10!

    <<>>

  23. james says:

    I am in my 30s, I don’t have kids, and often take quick turnaround weekend domestic trips. So I am probably not your demographic – but here’s a couple thoughts:

    My comment on code-sharing was sarcastic. I’m sorry it wasn’t more obvious.

    I work in advertising and media buying, and would take issue with the cavelier attitude regarding sponsors. When I see a show that has crap-tacular ads like MLM seminars, shamwows, and SpeedyCash outlets I DO think less of the product – because they can’t SELL their product as reputable and deserving of quality advertisers. The quality of a venue or media – whether stadiums, prime time TV, bus, or airplane, DO go hand in hand. Somehow Cash4Gold made it into the Superbowl this year. I still don’t understand that one.

    Also – I see the budgets and amounts companies like “sham-wow” spend in various markets on radio/TV/billboards/airports/etc for specific reaches and dayparts – and with today’s rates not even a five year contract would cover the expenses on ONE 747 cross country flight.

    I like the flying at night part. I actually prefer getting up at 4am for a 6am flight when the airports are empty and delays are few. But – if you’re flying at night then how are the thousands of people at JFK going to see the ads for credit counseling services and male enhancement products on the fuselage? But – if I can a vanful of kids it’d sound like torture to be up at 2:30 am

    How are you planning to pay for maintenance of 581 video game and DVD systems? – especially if they’re used by KIDS.

    Speaking of 581 – the first thing that came to mind when I read that was Tenerife – which clocked in at 583. Sorry I have such a morbid outlook.

  24. james says:

    sorry to clarify — “I wouldn’t want to round up a vanful of kids for a 2:30am flight.”

  25. David SFeastbay says:

    I was going to post saying this topic is giving me a headache and is turning into an ‘ad’ for Family Airlines.

    Then I got to thinking there has been many airlines start up with big ideas and plans over the years so why be surprised at one more. Who can really say at this point if it would work or not. After all, Southwest started as an idea drawn on a napkin with three cities (Dallas, Houston, San Antonio) and look where they are now. Those 500+ passengers will have to spend a lot of money on the ticket cost or onboard to pay for the fuel bill to get a 747 from point A to point B.

    But the major question to me is why is it called Family Airlines? Makes it sound like no single people would be allowed onboard. Sounds like it would be filled with kids heading to Orlando and Disney World. Is the name trying to make the airline sound ‘wholesome’ or family owned so it has a personal touch to it?

    “Family Airlines just like baseball and mom’s apple pie”

  26. eponymous coward says:

    So your airline is going to have business class seating on planes that look like a city bus?

  27. Wonko Beeblebrox says:

    I’m with Cranky.

    I’ve not read your excel spreadsheet, but I just don’t see this business plan working.

    Flying at 2AM? Who pays for all the TSA folks to be there screening all 581 pax for that 2AM departure? And can you imagine how many crying babies would be on a 581 pax 747-300 red-eye that is priced to attract families? My guess would be that noone on-board would get any sleep!

    As I recall…..
    Beyond that, America West had a red-eye hub in Vegas. The whole premise of that was that the aircraft all basically paid for themselves during the “day” flying, so the LAS night operation was “bonus money” if the flights simply earned more than they cost to operate. That LAS night hub got dismantled because it didn’t work when the fuel sipping A320s couldn’t break even at the high fuel prices.

    What about noise restrictions? I’d bet there are a lot of families living near airports that don’t want a 747-300 full of cargo and pax serving as their extra early wake-up-call. (Please don’t fly over my house in Phoenix at 2AM with an older 747-300. Thanks…)

    Beyond that, loading 581 pax takes a lot longer than smaller RJs take. This is especially noticeable for a short haul flight. On short haul routes out of PHX, I want safety, frequency, price, reliability. The seat is basically the same no matter the size of the plane, and you aren’t in it for long…

    My two cents….

  28. Aviatrix says:

    The chief pilot has a BS majoring in Aeronautical Engineering, Computer Science, Physics, and Engineering. A quadruple hard science major. Can you really do that? Unfortunately it doesn’t really address the airline’s concern regarding management experience.

  29. Stephen says:

    Hey Cranky – any chance you can get the year up there next to the date? You’ve been “cranking” for a while now, and I realize when I go back to some of the old posts you reference I don’t know what year you’re referring to (like the one here references the Family Airlines post from Feb 4….but I can’t remember if that was Feb 4, 2008 or Feb 4, 2009). I realize now I can just scroll down to the comments and see the year so maybe this is a moot point

  30. CF says:

    Holy cow. I head out for a couple meetings and I return to a thesis from Dan. Shouldn’t you guys be focused on, oh, creating an airline instead of writing novels? I’ll assume this is from Dan Eikleberry, the SVP of Flight Ops, right? Let me try to respond to several of your points.

    Family Airlines phone has not changed. You mis-dialed. (702) 253-1520 works same for last two years.

    Well it’s nice that the phone number hasn’t changed, but if that’s the case, that means the phone number on your website has been wrong for two years. Take a look at your contact page where it proudly displays (702) 476-2194 as the phone number.
    http://familyairlines.com/contact.html

    That also fails to explain why nobody responded to my email.

    The letter from the DOT, dated 4 Aug, was never received at Family Airlines. We discovered it from email from one of your readers.

    From one of my readers? Nice work, whomever let them know. You should try to get a cut of their profits since without you they never would have seen this letter.

    DOT is not good about sending out mail — they just post stuff on their very difficult to navigate website.

    I actually find the new regulations.gov to be fairly easy to navigate. And you can sign up to receive email alerts any time the docket is updated:
    http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#docketDetail?R=DOT-OST-2008-0029

    The letter from FAI you cited above is NOT our response to the DOT questions! It was only a coincidence that simple update letter was sent the same day the DOT had new questions. Strange that they would not have questions for almost a year, and then post questions with an 18 Aug deadline without sending it to FAI.

    Ah, well that makes sense. It also explains why you never received their letter since you switched addresses. (You still have the wrong address on your contact page as well.)

    FAI did send a very thorough response to the DOT yesterday. It is 101 pages long. It should be on the DOT website when Ms (not Mr!) Balgobin gets back from vacation and takes the time to read it.

    This isn’t up on the DOT site yet, but I can’t wait to see it. If you’re willing, send a copy to cf@crankyflier.com and I’ll post for everyone to see.

    BTW, fuel costs (currently about $2.50 for airlines?) can be run up to over $6 / gallon, and FAI will STILL make a profit from day ONE.

    I’d love to see that spreadsheet, because I can’t imagine how that’s going to be possible. I discuss this at the bottom.

    To keep an airline at absolutely lowest cost to passengers, this one will not be able to provide the luxuries found elsewhere. But if you wish to pay, the in-flight amenities will be nice — custom meals for everyone, DVD movies at each seat, video games for kids, ‘office class’ seats on the upper deck — all can be had for a little extra $$. But why make every passenger pay for things they don’t need? So…. the basic fare is CHEAP and gets you there! You want the other stuff? A meal? A drink? A movie? Oh.. that’s extra.

    Wait, you’re charging extra for everything but not checked baggage? That’s odd. DVD movies at each seat? Good luck provisioning that. You’ll need a whole lot of DVD players if you’re guaranteeing availability, and you’ll never make the money back. The variance in take-rate combined with the guaranteed loss from theft will be enough to make it painful.

    The common misunderstandings: “You can’t make a profit charging these low fares on a 747!” Wrong. You can. Pack the plane with 581 passengers (this will NOT be a 16 hour flight to Hong Kong!). Carry LOTS of cargo (You can’t do that on a 737!) — cheaply — in fact, cheaper than any other air freight carrier domestically. Sell advertising space.

    Oh boy. I would love to see you pack the plane with 581 passengers each time. It’ll never happen. And cargo? Domestically that’s what trains and trucks are good at. Urgent shipments already have good and more timely methods for transport, so you’ll simply attract the people looking for really cheap space. And the cargo doesn’t pay ancillary revenue itself.

    Advertising pays big! Family Airlines will look like a giant Coke bottle (if we can get Coke to sponsor a plane) or a NASCAR race car with logos and ads all over it — inside and out. You lower the tray table, there will be ads for all the great restaurants in Vegas. The overhead bin doors will look like a city bus with advertising all over them. You close the ‘blue room’ door, and the back side will be a giant poster or ads for hotels or rental cars or Thigh Masters or Shamwow — we don’t care. Ads pay big money to the airline. You might see something you need or want.

    That’s been said a million times, but it’s never been done very well. In the US, Spirit has probably gone the furthest, even selling ad space on barf bags, but they have never been able to go as far as you’re proposing. I’m fairly sure that it’s not that Spirit wouldn’t do it but rather that they can’t find people to pay for it.

    At $89 to Hawaii, wouldn’t you fly on Family Airlines? $19 LAS-LAX — you can’t beat that on Southwest anymore!

    True, $19 won’t beat Southwest on LAS-LAX but as soon as you roll it out, it will certainly be matched by plenty. Let’s continue this discussion below . . .

    As for crowded skies and airports and gates — Family Airlines will fly when the others don’t — we plan to go into and out of JFK in the middle of the night when we can get gates. Our schedules are part of what keeps our fares so cheap. But at these cheap fares, many will be willing to fly at 2:00 in the morning, if necessary. We think 581 passengers will fly whenever we fly.

    I really hope this does get up and running because it would be fun to watch. I think your assumptions as a company are off.

    Our first routes will probably be LAX-JFK-MIA triangle. Vegas will come later. Big plan is Vegas hub, but some major point-to-point non-stops like the LAX-JFK thing will be provided as well.

    Oh great, some really underserved markets, right? Please. Not even close. So let’s say that you price LAX to JFK at the same $89 fare you’re talking about for Hawai’i. You’ll actually only keep $83 of that once you back out the 7.5% excise tax. I also have to take issue with your expectation that you’ll fill all your seats. I just don’t see it. But, let’s say you can miraculously pull off a 90% load factor (still don’t see it). That’s 523 passengers * $83 = $43,409. And just for fun, let’s say you can get $10 per person for ancillary revenue. That’s about $48,639 in revenues from passengers.

    If we assume that a 747-300 burns about 25,000 lbs of fuel per hour, we can figure out fuel costs. A gallon weighs about 6.8 pounds, so we’re talking 3,676 gallons per hour. Let’s call JFK-LAX a 6 hour flight (including taxi time that’s about right). So you need 22,056 gallons of fuel. The current spot price is $1.88 a gallon, but I’ll bet it goes up. Still, using that calculation, we have $41,000 just for fuel. Using the claim you made that you would be profitable at $6 a gallon, we have fuel alone of $132,336 in fuel.

    When you factor in your (low) ownership cost, crew costs (remember, we need a three man cockpit crew on this plane), and administrative costs, I would expect to add a lot more.

    You’re going to make up for that with advertising and cargo? I’ll believe it when I see it. I’d love to be proven wrong on this one, but I’m feeling pretty good about my chance.

  31. Stephen says:

    Oh how neat…if you Google “Family Airlines,” the text under the search result for the airline says “Family Airlines…A Non Profit Corporation. The ‘Almost’ FREE Clinic” . Now if that isn’t a marketing slogan, I don’t know what is.

  32. David SFeastbay says:

    30+ comments on an airline that doesn’t even fly, that’s pretty good.

    All we keep being told in this country is that Americans are fat and getting fatter. Now someone wants to stuff 581 overweight Americans on one plane. Going to need one large shoe horn and a jumbo can of WD-40 to make that work.

    New York City at 2:30 in the afternoon isn’t safe, just think what 2:30 in the morning will be like.

    And Mister Cranky I think you’ve found your new Alitalia :-)

  33. E says:

    Dan, with all due respect, you’re an idiot if you think that business plan is going to work… but hey, everyone needs a hobby in retirement. I’d try golf or model railroading.

  34. Shaydis says:

    CF,
    I don’t know were he’s getting 581 pax on a 747-300/400. What I was find in all of my reference books and online was a max pax was at 568 with the 747-400D Domestic maybe less with the -300. And that would be with all seats at 32 ins pitch. Dan was saying that he also wanted a “business class upper deck” well thats gona cost you some seats. The typical setup on the upper deck is 2+2 with around a seat 39ins pitch, thats if you want to give them somthing they want other than a $19 flight at 2am. And I used to work for jetBlue and your DVD setup sounds great in theory, but when you have LiveTv and WiFi, that not only the low cost have but now the legacy carriers, I’m just not so sure.

  35. Gumpfs says:

    Dan,

    Curt Lewis never tried to call Family. He runs a flight safety summary publication and posted a news story from Air Transport Intelligence. They are the ones who tried to call Family and failed, so it’s probably best to not repeatedly blame Curt.

  36. CF says:

    Stephen wrote:

    Hey Cranky – any chance you can get the year up there next to the date?

    You know what? That’s bothered me for a long time, but your comment finally pushed me to fix it. You should now see the year where the date is.

    David SFeastbay wrote:

    And Mister Cranky I think you’ve found your new Alitalia :-)

    Maybe, but only if they actually get a plane in the air.

    Shaydis wrote:

    CF,
    I don’t know were he’s getting 581 pax on a 747-300/400. What I was find in all of my reference books and online was a max pax was at 568 with the 747-400D Domestic maybe less with the -300.

    I believe the 568 figure is with a two-cabin layout. You can theoretically get up to 660 with a single cabin. Yikes.

  37. Dan says:

    @ Aviatrix:
    Aviatrix wonders about my engineering background (USAF Academy). She seems to have failed to read the rest… Masters Degree in Aviation Management, Embry Riddle. Also, 28 years with United Airlines, dealing with every facet of a major airline, and 16 years on the 747-400, 747-200, 777 widebodies come pretty close to flying a 747-300.
    True, I was never a Vice President at United, but, hey! Ya gotta start somewhere! If the FAA doesn’t like it, we’ll find someone else to fill the job.

  38. Dan says:

    @ David SFeastbay:

    David wonders why we call it ‘Family Airlines’. Good question. Wish I had a good answer. Ask the CEO. His choice.
    There was a time when we had a lady mayor in Vegas who kept saying “Vegas is a family town! Bring the kids!” We replaced her with a better mayor who says “Don’t bring the kids. We want to start a red light district down town, and I’ve got a martini waiting. This is a gambling and hot fun town. Bring money!” or something like that. I know of only two hotels on the Strip that cater to kids — Circus Circus and Excalibur. Bellagio says no one under 18 in the building.
    We cant get the CEO to change. Something about calling it Family Airlines means we’ll get five passengers instead of just one.

    Can you imagine 581 passengers and screaming kids running up and down the aisle? This will not be your quiet first class cruise.

    Someone else (James?) worried about a cavalier attitude toward advertising, and the quality of the venue on which it is carried / displayed. Yep. Our quality is what it is. We’re betting many advertisers, especially tourist venues, will be happy to have 581 ‘captured audience’ staring at their ads for 4 hours on a plane.
    I always wondered why United didn’t sell that space on the inside of the winglets… 14 hours to Sydney staring at “Drink Budweiser” — someone would get thirsty! (Or “Drink VB beer!”)

    2 a.m.: Not all flights will be at night! We may just have to land at places like JFK at 2.a.m. to get a gate or landing slot. That means leaving Vegas at about 8 pm. Quite logical. Most other cities can take us any time. Just as other airlines, we plan to keep the planes in the air around the clock. In case you didn’t notice, most major carriers work their way west during the day, and fly all-nighters back East at night, to be ready to take-off again at 0600-0700 the next morning from the East Coast and do it all again. Pretty much the same for Hawaii flights — day flights over, all-nighters coming back. Ever see that time-lapse video everyone sent around emails several months back with every flight in the air for 24 hours in the entire world? That explains a lot.

    So, there will be plenty of flights in the day time.
    But again, at our prices, we think that just won’t matter that much if you need to fly out of JFK at 0300 to get a take-off slot for a flight down to Miami. Those aren’t the exact times, just a concept we’re exploring.

    Noise: Our aircraft will meet all the noise restrictions and regulations. The FAA would never let us get a certificate nor airborne if they didn’t.
    Besides, (my cavalier jet pilot attitude) why would you live under the flight path of a noisy jet airport in the first place? There should be a clause in the sales contract for any house near an airport: “Warning — this house is near an airport. You know that. You agree right now to NEVER complain for the rest of your life about noise or danger of airplanes falling on your house!”

    CF worries why we charge for cokes and meals and games and things on board, but don’t charge to check a bag. Answer: because we can. And there are plenty who hate those baggage fees (me) and probably don’t want a video game or movie — I’ll bring my MP3 player because I’m cheap. And.. mostly, because thats the plan of the CEO. We told him almost every airline (except Southwest) charges for bags these days, and he still said “NO!”.

    Phone number? Contact page? Oh… you’re still looking at that web site. Already agreed, it really sucks. Anyone want to volunteer to come to Vegas (or do it from your home) and be our IT person? The pay and benefits are undescribable. (which means — zero pay, no benefits).
    Takes us right back to our other problems — no funding, no money to pay people, its amazing we’ve gone as far as we have to date!

    DVDs and repairs and theft: You won’t be able to steal the DVD players. I’m not in that department, but I understand it will probably be something more like punch a few buttons on a menu and you get pay-per-view at your seat. Unless you rip the seat back in front of you apart, you cant take the screen home, either.

    $19 fares: SW may match us. But they can’t do it on every day, every flight. They’ll lose money at it. We won’t. We don’t count on the fares supporting the entire cost of the flight. Fares are subsidized by the other profit centers: In flight sales, meals, drinks, etc; Advertising; and Cargo.
    I’ve never seen the exact numbers, but I was told (when flying a 747-400 from HKG to SFO) that the cargo alone paid for the entire flight. The fare revenue was just ‘gravy’. Ask Federal Express how cargo pays. They don’t need ANY passengers!

    CF tosses out some good numbers. Again, until his last line or so, he’s trying to prove the passenger fares we charge will not pay the fuel bill (if fuel costs go up). We know that. Again, passenger fares will be subsidized by the other income sources. I’m not the accountant.. but he has run the numbers over and over, and included every cost you can imagine, down to layover hotel costs and medical / dental insurance and training costs! And replacement costs for equipment. And landing fees and gate fees etc. I’m not sure of the load factor that still makes a profit, but it turns out far below anything we ever expect to see.
    And yes, at the fares we offer, we do expect every flight to be sold out 30 days in advance. On line sales. We beat every other airline on every route for fares. Until they match us, they won’t be taking a passenger away from us. There will be no refunds for a no-show. So the empty seats will still make revenue. I have no idea how our customer service plans to handle stand-bys for those empty seats — maybe not at all. Employees on passes, probably.

    And yes, there are plenty of folks who wouldn’t fly on an airline like ours at any (cheap) price. Fine. Go fly on American or United or Delta. They pride themselves in fine service and pampering, and you pay for it. We don’t. At 581 passengers, I expect our planes to be crowded, and difficult to sleep on.

    Those who say our business plan simply won’t work cannot fathom a non-traditional airline. They think in terms of what they have seen…. Airlines trying to make it on passenger fare revenue alone. And planes with empty seats because they priced the ticket higher than the competition.

    This is not your father’s airline! Stop thinking Oldsmobile, and start thinking Chevy Volt. (or maybe city bus!).

    Dan

  39. jjjbbb says:

    http://www.fesa.be/1%20N93117.jpg-for-web.jpg

    I came across this image while looking at pics from Mojave the other day. I hope FAI keeps this livery…

  40. Tom says:

    Why not call into the Barry Michaels Show, hosted by none other than their CEO? http://www.barrymichaelsshow.com/

  41. Dan says:

    @ Tom:

    Barry Michaels Show. http://www.barrymichaelsshow.com/
    Interesting. I did not know that web site existed.

    The radio show is now defunct. Barry cancelled it in May or June. The lady who produced the show quit and probably had to look elsewhere for a paying job. Her job was a volunteer, no-pay job.

    The radio show as an AM radio talk show. Time was paid for by its sponsors, which was mainly the Mini-Care start-up clinic here in town, and out of Barry’s pocket. There were no ratings, so Barry never knew how many listners there were..

  42. Dan says:

    @ jjjbbb:

    I had never seen that photo. There are some photos floating about that were taken at San Bernardino airport (old Norton AFB) where the plane was moved in 1993 after an earlier attempt to start up an airline fell apart (also called Family Airlines, but no relation to the current start-up attempt, other than same name and same CEO — go figure).

    I see “Family” has been painted over. And since it was at Mojave, I’m guessing the plane had been sold and moved up there from San Bernardino. It appears to have both engines on the left side. Photos I’ve seen before show the #4 engine missing.

    Paint job: I kinda doubt it will look like that. As mentioned above, the plan is to sell advertising on the outside of the plane — similar to the JAL planes with colorful exteriors, or the SW Shamu the Whale plane.

  43. oldiesfan6479 says:

    Dan wrote:

    …or the SW Shamu the Whale plane.

    Shouldn’t an airline person, commenting on a commercial aviation blog, know that Southwest is WN, not SW?

  44. CF says:

    Dan wrote:
    Phone number? Contact page? Oh… you’re still looking at that web site. Already agreed, it really sucks. Anyone want to volunteer to come to Vegas (or do it from your home) and be our IT person? The pay and benefits are undescribable. (which means — zero pay, no benefits).
    Takes us right back to our other problems — no funding, no money to pay people, its amazing we’ve gone as far as we have to date!
    Of course I’m looking at the website. Where else would I go to find your contact information? I don’t know who put this thing together in the first place, but changing text to show correct contact information is about the easiest thing on earth. Having no money is no excuse for having incorrect information.

    DVDs and repairs and theft: You won’t be able to steal the DVD players. I’m not in that department, but I understand it will probably be something more like punch a few buttons on a menu and you get pay-per-view at your seat. Unless you rip the seat back in front of you apart, you cant take the screen home, either.

    Oh so these are going to be built-in units? Those are awfully expensive for 581 seats, and it takes a lot of cash to outfit it.

    I’ve never seen the exact numbers, but I was told (when flying a 747-400 from HKG to SFO) that the cargo alone paid for the entire flight. The fare revenue was just ‘gravy’. Ask Federal Express how cargo pays. They don’t need ANY passengers!

    This just keeps getting better. I think it’s a safe bet that rates between Asia and the US are going to yield more than carrying domestic cargo. But have you looked at rates lately? They’re in the toilet. Delta is retiring the Northwest freighter fleet of 747-200s because cargo doesn’t pay enough. FedEx makes money on cargo because it has a full infrastructure to get shipments anywhere in the world when it needs to be there. You guys will be a secondary if not tertiary choice simply appealing to people looking for cheap freight that’s somewhat time sensitive. Those don’t mix well.

    but he has run the numbers over and over, and included every cost you can imagine, down to layover hotel costs and medical / dental insurance and training costs! And replacement costs for equipment. And landing fees and gate fees etc. I’m not sure of the load factor that still makes a profit, but it turns out far below anything we ever expect to see.

    I could put together a spreadsheet that shows a profit as well, but that doesn’t mean it’s accurate. Come on, send it on over and let us play with it!

    And yes, at the fares we offer, we do expect every flight to be sold out 30 days in advance. On line sales. We beat every other airline on every route for fares. Until they match us, they won’t be taking a passenger away from us. There will be no refunds for a no-show. So the empty seats will still make revenue. I have no idea how our customer service plans to handle stand-bys for those empty seats — maybe not at all. Employees on passes, probably.

    There is absolutely no chance you will fill those seats a month in advance. Booking curves have shortened dramatically over the past few years and people are booking later. But I bet other airlines will match you and they’ll revenue manage it so they can still do ok on their flights while you guys bleed.

    Those who say our business plan simply won’t work cannot fathom a non-traditional airline. They think in terms of what they have seen…. Airlines trying to make it on passenger fare revenue alone. And planes with empty seats because they priced the ticket higher than the competition.

    Oh, I can fathom a non-traditional airline that works. Take a look across the airport at Allegiant. They make a ton of money flying tourists from places where there is no competitionand they make a ton of ancillary revenue on hotel deals. Your problem is that you can’t fly in small markets where there is no competition because your planes are too big. So you’ll go up against a ton of well-established airlines and you’ll have trouble filling those seats in a profitable way.

  45. aerokate says:

    @ Dan:
    CF, good call exposing this story. The more I read about FAI and see the reposnses from “Dan”, I just shake my head and wonder if these folks are really that clueless or they think the DOT are idiots. Maybe both. I’m still laughing about the $30 bank account.

  46. AStabAtEmpathy says:

    Dan,

    You’re a good man, it seems, and you deserve better. But come on, you were a mainline pilot tasked with lots of responsibilities, which certainly required the application of a good daily dose of common sense. How much does it take for you to finally have your senses in regards to this FAI trainwreck?

    Your CEO apparently is a convict with a record of securities fraud – related to that first incarnation of FAI, nonetheless. Think you got ANY chance to place your offering? Ever? You need to raise $200m, and have a current balance sheet with negative 14k. Delusional.

  47. MM says:

    @ CF:
    The common thread here is that Family/Dan believe they have a brilliant plan, and everyone else is wrong. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen (as an aviation consultant) a start-up plan for an airline that was the best thing ever concocted but was looney tunes in the real world. This is one more. Last airline to fly 747s domestically? Tower Air – a total disaster, and they had the same plan as Family, without the frills.
    The aircraft? Every major airline operating the 747 is getting rid of them. I guess LH, BA, SQ and others are just stupid and don’t understand how to operate it.
    Routes? If Family goes up against UA, AA, B6, CO and even Virgin America, who will win? As Cranky notes, they’ll match you $19 fares and suck your cash flow like a vacuum. I hope you’ve learned by now that filling a plane has nothing to do with profitability. Load factor is one of the most misunderstood and mis-used numbers in this business.
    Funding? Is anyone going to offer $180 million to company to compete in an industry that is cut-throat and unprofitable? Good luck. And DOT? They’re wasting time. They never reject applications unless there is no basis for progress. Here – there is none.
    So stop wasting the DOT’s time. It’s no accident that DOT has slammed your management structure, business plan and chances for survival.

  48. Shaydis says:

    The thing that bugs me about this is the use of a 747-300/400 on a shot haul market. It just wasn’t designed for it. Its a long haul A/C, its got 2 more engines than you need. If you really want to find a used high capacity A/C find some 767s or some A310s or even if you find them MD-11′s. The 747SP was used in the Asian market with high frequency rates, and that was successful. But there were only 45 delivered. Maybe 300/400 could work on a LAS-LAX pairing with 2 flights a day with 2324 pax, but I can’t see filling more than that, say you have x5, you would have 5810 pax, vs jetBlue’s LGB-LAS pairing with a A320 and 2 flights a day they have a max 600 pax. I’m not sure what your break even point would be. And if you want to open the HI market that’s going take one of you A/C out of the mainline. Even if its just one flight a day. I’m probably wrong on this but aren’t landing fees based on A/C weight?

  49. Fred says:

    @ Shaydis:

    Tell it to the Japaneese, they do it every day. Also tell it to Fred Smith the founder of FedEx he was obviously an idiot for coming up with a crazy plan like next day delivery. Isn’t there any creative thinkers on this site? I’m guessing they’re either all burnt out airline guys or would be’s

  50. aerokate says:

    @ Fred

    At least FedEx had a unique idea

  51. Fred says:

    of what i’m reading……..aside from Dan…….I’m sure you and everyone else on this site would have killed the idea…..of just plain crazy like Family Airlines and I’m sure none of you have every really looked at their plan or their numbers. The traditional or legacy carriers are all screwed up mainly because they lack crativity in their leadership.

  52. MM says:

    @ Fred:
    You’re right Fred that there could be more creativity from the majors. But I’ve seen enough start-up airline business plans (7 total) to know what works. And Cranky is definitely right (and he’s worked for two airlines) that costs on the 747 sink this plan. I would react totally differently if they were considering 737s or A319s. The fact that they believe in the 747 shows me they don’t understand today’s competitive airline business.

  53. David SFeastbay says:

    wow not over 50 comments about an airline not even off the ground yet.

    Question: Would everyone still be so negative if Bill Gates or Warren Buffett were behind Family Airlines? You know Bill and Warren, the two riches men in the world.

    But then again, a name and back ground doesn’t mean success, where is Trump Airlines after all.

  54. David SFeastbay says:

    Whoops that last post should have said….’wow NOW over 50 comments…..’

  55. asad says:

    Fred this is not a simple undertaking and yet they haven’t managed to raise enough capital to pay a salary for anyone. Maybe if they raise $$ for it then it would be a different story but so far they have an idea and an excel spreadsheet vs tons of reasons why it wouldn’t work. Just because Southwest started out on a napkin it doesn’t mean any idea sketched out on a napkin is going to work. The CEO wants a name and the employees aren’t sure why, the CEO is also running for congress and running a $22/visit clinic doesn’t that seem just a tad much to take on while the business hasn’t taken off yet ?

    I have worked in startups and I have never seen or heard of a startup where the CEO is actively involved in other projects at the same time as doing the startup!

    To my uninformed eye the goal seems to be RyanAir with ads in the middle of the night. Except as someone else said RyanAir goes from nowhere to nowhere not major markets. I am not sure how this would work at all. That’s why people are piling on, creativity != lack of organization and planning.

  56. Fred says:

    To MM

    The funny part about the whole thing is the only way the plan works is with the 747 and its load capacity. Give the numbers to any highschool kid and he can figure it out. Nearly every startup copies others…..usually Southwest that’s why they fail.

  57. Fred says:

    To Asad…..They managed to get a long way without paying a dime for salary……that’s seems incredible, they may not have any money, but to my knowledge, they have no debt either. It seems pretty smart to me and all the while the CEO is multitasking…WOW

  58. Fred says:

    By the way…… there are new Family Airlines filings on the DOT site today….interesting reading

  59. CF says:

    Shaydis wrote:

    The 747SP was used in the Asian market with high frequency rates, and that was successful. But there were only 45 delivered.

    Small nit, but it was the 747SR (the SP was the ultra long haul). The SR was replaced with the 747-400D which can hold up to 568 in a two cabin configuration. But guess what? They don’t want these airplanes flying short haul anymore. (They’re actually working toward retiring the 747s in general over time.) Look at Osaka to Tokyo, for example. There aren’t any 747s on that these days. This is an old model that only made sense because Tokyo was slot restricted and there was a crushing amount of traffic between the two cities. That’s a better market for the 747 than domestic US flying, yet it still isn’t seeing it anymore.

    Even if its just one flight a day. I’m probably wrong on this but aren’t landing fees based on A/C weight?

    Yep.

    Fred wrote:

    @ Shaydis:
    Tell it to the Japaneese, they do it every day. Also tell it to Fred Smith the founder of FedEx he was obviously an idiot for coming up with a crazy plan like next day delivery. Isn’t there any creative thinkers on this site? I’m guessing they’re either all burnt out airline guys or would be’s

    What are you talking about? You make it sound like anyone who comes up with a business plan that’s out of the box is going to be a success. The fact is that Fred Smith had a risky but visionary plan. I don’t see anything visionary about Family Airlines. I’m happy to be proven wrong, but I think it’s way to early to be comparing them to FedEx.

    David SFeastbay wrote:

    Question: Would everyone still be so negative if Bill Gates or Warren Buffett were behind Family Airlines? You know Bill and Warren, the two riches men in the world.

    Damn right. Warren Buffet’s greatest mistake to date was investing in USAir. He lost a ton on it, and I’m sure he’ll tell you to run away from airlines.

    Fred wrote:

    By the way…… there are new Family Airlines filings on the DOT site today….interesting reading

    So exciting. The 96 page response is on the DOT website now (.doc):
    http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/contentStreamer?objectId=0900006480a0dd96&disposition=attachment&contentType=msw8

    Talk about fun reading. The plan is now to start up LAX-LAS-JFK-MIA flights. They’ll have one airplane based on each coast with one spare on each coast as well for 4 airplanes to start. By the end of the year, they’ll have 14 747s flying to all major cities in the US.

    They’re making a mistake right at the start by having headquarters in Vegas with the operational base in Miami (?!). Always great to have your airline based on two separate sides of the country.

    Oh, and their spreadsheet is in there, well, screenshots are in there. If I get a chance, I’ll try to dig in and rip them up. Anyone else want to take a stab?

  60. Fred says:

    @ CF:
    You sound like a real expert, maybe you ought to start an airline and show are how successful you can make it. You seem to have all the answers! Except…..there is no spread sheet in that filing…..

  61. CF says:

    Fred wrote:

    You sound like a real expert, maybe you ought to start an airline and show are how successful you can make it. You seem to have all the answers! Except…..there is no spread sheet in that filing…..

    Your statement makes no sense. If someone is an expert then they wouldn’t be starting an airline – they should be too smart for that.

    So what exactly is it that you’re volunteering to do at Family, Fred?

    Read it again. I said there are screenshots of the spreadsheet in there, and in fact, there are. Pages 71-74. Enjoy.

  62. Fred says:

    @ CF:
    How would you know what the spread sheet looks like from your so called screen shots? For your information…I’m not a volunteer at Family Airlines. Have you ever heard of building a better mouse trap? Maybe that’s what this new airline is doing?

  63. CF says:

    Fred wrote:

    How would you know what the spread sheet looks like from your so called screen shots?

    My “so called screen shots”? Holy crap, I can’t believe I’m even responding. Do I need to walk you through this, really? Those screen shots were in the Family filing. They are clearly of an Excel spreadsheet that shows projections for revenues and expenses. Family has said that the spreadsheet they’ve put together does just that. So either this is the spreadsheet or they’re sending the DOT something different than what they’re actually using, and that would be the dumbest thing I could imagine.

    This is all irrelevant. I’m done responding.

  64. eponymous coward says:

    “How would you know what the spread sheet looks like from your so called screen shots? ”

    Because they are reproduced as part of “Exhibit A, Forward Looking Statement of 1st Year Income by Quarter?

    CF- I especially like the over half-billion in revenue they are planning on in their first year of operations.

  65. Fred says:

    I @ eponymous coward:I guess from these screen shots you can tell what the fuel cost was estimated to be per gallon or engine maintenance per hour, or how about cost per seat mile?

  66. Fred says:

    ta@ eponymous coward:I suggest you take a basic class in accounting and Excel

  67. eponymous coward says:

    Really, Fred? So you’re taking a business plan seriously that has a company that isn’t operating today (and has no FAA operating certificate, planes, stock underwriting, etc.) but has it generating a half-billion dollars of revenue in the space of 15+ months? (That amount of revenue would make Family Airlines generating more revenue than Virgin America OR Allegiant, just for reference.)

    I suggest to you that if you like their plan… go buy some stock, if you qualify, and if it’s offered. If the prospectus and business plan looks great to you, knock yourself out. Don’t mind me laughing over here.

  68. Paul says:

    I remember driving by what is now San Bernardino International Airport in the early 1990s and seeing a 747-100 painted in Family Air’s livery. They actually got their hands on a plane long enough for someone to paint it for them. Next time you’re in the Mojave Desert, look for that plane.

  69. ttjoseph says:

    Having trouble sleeping, so I downloaded the FAI response to the DOT letter and skimmed it. There is lots of legal boilerplate related to their plan to sell stock. It looks like there is a $100k minimum to invest. Good luck on that one.

    There’s a list of “risk factors” that could impact the company’s success. Among them: they have no money (have the founders even invested anything?), they haven’t done any market feasibility research beyond a cursory look at DOT figures, nobody there has non-pilot operations experience with an airline, it hasn’t figured out how to provide training and ground services or who to buy them from, and Barry Michaels served 14 months in prison for securities fraud.

    Of the initial four 747s, two will be held in “reserve”. So already 50% of their fleet will be grounded on day one. They claim they will break even on a 55% load factor on half of their fuel-hungry jets. Cost per seat mile is claimed to be 6.5 cents. (I guess this includes anticipated cargo revenues?) So a JFK-LAX one-way would cost roughly $93500 or $292 per seat with a 55% load factor. They want to charge $69 for that seat.

    So what could this possibly be? They can’t seriously believe this is a legitimate, viable plan. Is it actually some sort of comical money-laundering scheme?

  70. Fred says:

    @ ttjoseph: How many airlines do you know, startup or other that have no debt to service? Maybe you’d rather invest in one of the big guys servicing a 20 billion dollar debt? The only smart one who have operated this airplane in this manner is Japan Air…..tell it all to them. They island hop with 550 passengers

  71. ttjoseph says:

    @ Fred:
    Zero debt is great but you also have to have assets to buy things with. The “big guys” have a lot of debt to service but they also have liquidity with which to buy stuff. And they have airline experience. But I do not invest in any airline, big or not, because I’d like to see my money again one day.

    You must be referring to an extremely popular route such as HND-CTS that is flown only by JL and NH. For the month of September, JL is charging 337 USD plus taxes for this one-way, 509-mile trip on a 747. (They have also put 777s on this route.) FAI fares for comparable distances are a fraction of that, and its plans for ancillary revenue are unrealistic.

  72. MM says:

    @ Fred:
    One more stat, other than the massive fuel cost Cranky has passed on. Those are landing fees. With LAX-LAS-JFK-MIA the landing fees for one roundtrip circuit will be more and $30,000. And it’s more than $11,000 for MIA alone (assuming 581 pax) and their fee will be above $20/pax before any new airline can start. Not even WN operates into MIA when a few miles north at FLL the cost per pax is around $5.

  73. aerokate says:

    Fred wrote:

    @ ttjoseph: How many airlines do you know, startup or other that have no debt to service? Maybe you’d rather invest in one of the big guys servicing a 20 billion dollar debt? The only smart one who have operated this airplane in this manner is Japan Air…..tell it all to them. They island hop with 550 passengers

    That’s because people in Japan live on ISLANDS and they have no choice but to fly in between them, unlike people who live on CONTINENTS

  74. David SFeastbay says:

    wow now over 70 comments on one blog, Cranky that must be a record.

    But with so many comments, I’ve lost track……..who’s Fred?

  75. ttjoseph says:

    @ aerokate:
    Actually you can take the train from Tokyo to Sapporo, two cities on completely different islands.

  76. Bobber says:

    Hilarious! 70+ comments.

    Anyone had time to pick up all the toys thrown out the pram?

  77. Yo says:

    I remember, back in the 80′s when HP was in bankruptcy this disease of a startup. They even painted a 747, but, they wanted $5000 from pilots for the honor of being part of the airline.

    They are like a bad case of the clap, it just keeps resurfacing, causing more and more embarrassment each time. Worst startup ever.

  78. CF says:

    Anyone want to see if we can push 100 comments? This is hilarious.

    ttjoseph wrote:

    Cost per seat mile is claimed to be 6.5 cents. (I guess this includes anticipated cargo revenues?) So a JFK-LAX one-way would cost roughly $93500 or $292 per seat with a 55% load factor. They want to charge $69 for that seat.

    Good stuff. It will actually be more than this since they’ve decided to go LAX-LAS-JFK, but let’s just go with the nonstop for simplicity. If every single seat is full, they need $160 per person to break even. They’ll get $64 per person net of tax, so they would need $100 in ancillary revenues for every single seat just to break even. They’ll need over $200 each to break even using the 55% load factor. No freakin’ way!

  79. Yo says:

    Dave one thing that interests me. What happens at 2 am in JFK when your ancient 747-300 has a mechanical? Contracting with another airline is $$$$, having spares in all your cities and mechanics is $$$$$$$$$, and finding hotels for 500+ people at 5 am?

    Unless you want to be like Tower and lie to pax and let them sit for a dozen or so hours?

    I read your rosy scenarios and just laugh, you may fool some unsophisticated investors (are there any more of them left?), but you can’t fool people who know airlines and the biz. Look at National Airlines (2), they had a boatload of start up money invested in it, and they couldn’t make it work at all (of course if Conway and Company hadn’t spent like drunk sailors on country club memberships and company cars….).

    The more I read of this latest version of this sham of a start up, the more I think that this is the flying version of the movie “The Producers”

    Thanks for the laughs, good luck finding someone in this economy to flip you a few dimes….

  80. ttjoseph says:

    @ CF:
    I would love to see another post on the Family Airlines saga. Not just because they are an easy target and it’s entertaining to make fun of them, but because this is a good platform on which to discuss the larger topic of what does make a solid airline business plan, which is inherently interesting, especially in the current economy.

  81. David SFeastbay says:

    Is it me or do their ‘sample’ fares not make sense. For $69 I can fly LAS to JFK which is like 2200ish miles. But it will cost $39 to fly LAS to SFO which is 400ish miles. Seems LAS-JFK you get more value for that extra $30, you get to fly roughly 1800 extra miles. Hmmm…if I use SJC instead of SFO I’ll save $10 to/from LAS. So about 3 cents a mile between LAS and JFK, but 9 cents a mile between LAS and JFK. I’m glad the gas stations aren’t like this. Yes I’m driving between San Francisco and New York City, ok that will be 49 cents a gallon. My friend is driving San Francisco to Ely, Nevada, ok that will be $12.85 a gallon. Makes as much sense….or should that be cents…..lol

    Las Vegas (LAS)
    New York City (JFK) $69.00
    Miami (MIA) $69.00
    Los Angeles (LAX) $19.00
    Honolulu (HNL) $99.00
    San Francisco (SFO) $39.00
    Dallas (DFW) $49.00
    Phoenix (PHX) $19.00
    San Jose (SJC) $29.00
    Orlando (MCO) $69.00
    Chicago (ORD) $49.00
    San Diego (SAN) $19.00
    Philadelphia (PHL) $69.00
    Tampa (TPA) $69.00

  82. eponymous coward says:

    @ CF:

    They’ll need over $200 each to break even using the 55% load factor.

    Maybe they plan on shipping “medical” marijuana for cargo?

  83. David SFeastbay says:

    @ eponymous coward:

    More like selling it as part of onboard shopping to come up with the money to pay for the flight.

  84. aerokate says:

    Dan wrote:

    To keep fares cheap, the rest of the ’silly plan’ relies on hauling cargo (up to 100,000 pounds, we’re told by Boeing, if we don’t carry center tank fuel, which we won’t because we won’t need it — not going very far!), and intense advertising revenue. I call it ‘advertising in your face’. Everywhere. This will be like a city bus.

    Where will FAI get 100,000 lbs of cargo for each flight? L.A? Not likely. The trucking unions are not going to give up their livelyhood without a fight, how about LAS? LAS doesn’t produce anything to ship, except losers back home. How about MIA? Not unless you plan to fill the cargo hold with Cubans. NYC? Again, you have trucking & rail unions to deal with, so where will all this cargo come from that will supposedly make FAI a profit?
    And what about this “advertising in your face” concept? Seriously, I think these people have been hanging around the Las Vegas strip way too long. You guys need to leave Las Vegas as soon as possible and come join us in the real world!

  85. Jacob says:

    This airline sounds like a sham -just like its beloved
    city of Vegas. They are both perverted and hollow
    abominations.

  86. Fred says:

    Has any educated individuals on this site or just a bunch of wannabees? Everyone seems to know how to run an airline…….join all the others in the majors…….all the one’s that make money….ha ha ha! I think I’ve wasted enough of my $250 an hour time.

  87. David SFeastbay says:

    @ Fred:

    It’s not that everyone knows how to run an airline, it’s just some common sense and looking what’s being offered up by the the airline for review.

  88. ttjoseph says:

    @ Fred:
    Family Airlines’ business plan, as it stands, is simply not tenable. Even using their own unrealistically charitable data – as I and others have done – it’s easy to show that this is not a viable business. I will gladly eat crow when FAI turns a profit.

  89. oldiesfan6479 says:

    Did anyone else notice in FAI’s latest retort to the DOT their start-up aircraft was listed as “747-200/300.” Oh, the possibility of 747-200s!
    First, they won’t get 500+ pax on a -200 and second, where to find four…or 14?

    Hmmm, are those four ex-KL/ex-HP -206Bs still at Mojave? Maybe, but you’ll have to buy all the Cokes from the machine in the airport admin. office.

    There was also speculation that the Barrymeister might need to cut ties with the company in order to satisfy their fitness in the eyes of the DOT. (Yeah, like that’ll move their application right to the front of the line.) But if FAI does need to install a replacement CEO, I have just the guy in mind…(now don’t get ahead of me here)…you all know him as the wunderkind of Braniff (VIII? XIV?), the savior of SBD…ladies and gentlemen……Scot Spencer! (And the crowd goes wild.)

  90. ttjoseph says:

    @ oldiesfan6479:
    It wasn’t speculation, it was something stated in the DOT’s letter to the company.

  91. yo says:

    Oldies, the 4 HP birds are no more, I know that one got chopped in Kingman and its front section got turned into a simulator. One actually made it back to the skies in the middle east, but they have long since been turned into beer cans and spoons.

    So many memories…so many mechanicals, emergency landings, nights spent at airports because of MX.

    And that was 18 years ago! I’d love to see these clowns attempt to run some -200′s! Maybe Phuket Air has a few left in the swamps?

  92. Dan says:

    Thanks for the interesting read at 12:28am!!! (Does this qualify for the most commented post on CF to date???)

  93. CF says:

    Oldies – I think you’ve found the perfect match. I did say that one reason Allegiant is so successful is that they fly on routes with no competition. So here’s Family’s chance. Bring in Spencer and fly San Bernardino – Kingman – JFK – Opa Locka. It can be a ghost town tour!

    Dan – this is certainly up there, not counting the contest that required entries in the comment section, I think this is the most.

  94. Fred says:

    @ MM:When was the last time you met with the authorities at MIA. You’re way of base!

  95. Fred says:

    @ oldiesfan6479:They’ll probably wind up with the 400, which was their original plan

  96. Jacob says:

    I think the U.S. gov. should use this sacred spreadsheet. Apparently, we could cut taxes, enjoy universal health, and be back in the black lickity-split -if we only cover our national parks and monuments (Red Woods, Statue of Liberty etc.) with ads.

  97. Axelsarki says:

    @ Dan: The Bellagio let’s me go in to the hotel, and so do 95% of the hotels do (and I am 12). And even using that logic, then why fly a airline called “Family” in to LAS???

    The 742/743 are old A/C that use alot of gas, have more MX problems, and have more crew. Why do you think NW retired them, a few years ago? (talking about the PAX versions.) And now, companies are retiring the newer 744′s, because even though they are newer, they still use a lot of gas. 4 engines = more fuel, MX, and other problems. The only companies that come of the top of my head that use them in the US are Kallita, Shouthern, and NW (to be retired soon.) Note: they are all cargo. Where do you plane to get 14 742/743′s from? last time I went to Mojave, I only saw a couple of 742′s, and they where going to the chopper. Maybe VCV has ‘em? And you stated that you will get them and the offload them at the D checks? Do you realize most of the old A/C in the desert are there because the D checks came up, and the airlines with more than 30$ in the bank retired them?

    Just my 2 cents.

  98. Dan says:

    @ Axelsarki:

    Axelsarki — for a 12 year old (?) you sure are intelligent!

    Good points… all of them.

    747-200 is not really our target aircraft at all. But it could fill in in a pinch, but not make our revenue plans due to inability to carry 581 passengers as the ‘big top’ -300 and -400 can.
    Yes, ‘ropestart’ 747s (that’s what we called ’round eye’ dial (non-glass-cockpit) old 747s at United) DO require a flight engineer. Yes, they do consume more fuel due to older technology engines. Those are why we would like to move into the -400 at some point when the bank account allows it.
    But you ask why NW and others are retiring those classic 747s? Because THEY don’t carry 581 passengers on them! Because they try to make money in the old traditional way on them. THey think they have to provide First Class and Business Class on the main deck, leaving precious little floor space for economy seats. Because they don’t think it is cool to plaster the interior and exterior of the planes with (OK, call it crass!) advertising like a NASCAR race car. Because when they flew them, they (traditionally) charged high fares and people stayed away in droves and did NOT fill those empty seats. Because when they flew them, they did not charge for that meal, nor that coke. Because when they flew those planes, they had no thought of carrying cargo in the holds, because they were carrying fuel instead to fly to long – range destinations! And, because they were carrying heavy debt load on those planes due to having paid big $$$ for them new or used, back in the day when those planes sold for $100 million and up.

    Now.. Family Airlines (yes, I’ll agree its not the best name, but we’ve argued that here for a couple of years and its a lost battle – the name stays, despite its connection with a previous failed start up attempt that ended in loss of the plane and a jail sentence), doesn’t do any of those things mentioned above.

    Primarily, the cost of the planes: For $5 million to $10 milliion you can buy used 747-300s and fly them for a very long time on the money you save from NOT buying a 747-400 for $50 million to $100 million.

    The supply of used 747s comes and goes. We’ve been watching the market for the last 8 years closely. There are times when United or NW are dumping 747s at Mojave, Marana, VIctorville, and Phoenix (Goodyear?) and there are rows and rows of them. But, as you noted, they DO get bought up if flyable, quite quickly (Someone besides us thinks they can find a use for them!), or… if just too darn expensive to return to the sky, they do cut them up… which, BTW, cuts the supply making the remaining airplanes a bit more valuable, if you believe the laws of supply and demand. (Yeah, its that demand part that is sometimes a little fuzzy here.)

    The extra cost of a 747-300 in crew and fuel burn are more than offset by the cheaper price to buy one than buying a 747-400 with two pilot crew and more efficient engines.
    But, in the long run, you are correct — the ‘classic’ 747s will bite you with heavy maintenance costs and those fuel burns do add up.

    Yep.. you’re pretty smart for a 12 year old!
    BTW, Bellagio hotel won’t let a family with kids less than 18 check in. and their security folks DO meander about the casino and kick the kids out of the hotel from time to time. You can come see the big flower display in the lobby, but beyond that, they will ‘give you the eye’.
    Dan

  99. Dan says:

    I forgot to mention, if you do the searches, you can find used 747s for sale somewhere almost every day. Many are in Europe, some are already configured with high density seating.
    And Family Airlines has been offered 747-300s in good quantity several times from a source that apparently does not show them as ‘for sale’ on the usual markets.
    We’re not in the least worried about not being able to find used 747s suitable for our purpose. After all, you all tell me airlines are parking them right and left, so… if they’re not being cut up, they’re available. It just might take some expensive maintenance to get them back in the air — so we’ve got to be careful.

    Dan

  100. David M says:

    oldiesfan6479 wrote:But if FAI does need to install a replacement CEO, I have just the guy in mind…(now don’t get ahead of me here)…you all know him as the wunderkind of Braniff (VIII? XIV?), the savior of SBD…ladies and gentlemen……Scot Spencer! (And the crowd goes wild.)

    I’m thinking Carl Icahn would be a good candidate for the job of FAI CEO.

  101. Axelsarki says:

    What about Frank Lorenzo for the FAI CEO position? :)

  102. Fred says:

    @ Axelsarki:
    Whily you’re at it….how about Bernie Madofff….oh that’s right he’s tied up and unavailable

  103. CF says:

    Axelsarki wrote:

    Where do you plane to get 14 742/743’s from?

    A bunch of great points, Axel. Dan says you’re intelligent for a 12 year old, but clearly there’s no reason to put the age limit there. I’ll suggest you’ve got better business sense than this airline’s management team regardless of age.

    I will, however, say that finding a 747 is probably not that hard. JAL, for example, has 5 747-300s that are stored – they just finished parking them. I imagine they could throw some together if they needed to. Not a good idea, but possible . . .

    Dan wrote:

    But you ask why NW and others are retiring those classic 747s? Because THEY don’t carry 581 passengers on them! Because they try to make money in the old traditional way on them. THey think they have to provide First Class and Business Class on the main deck, leaving precious little floor space for economy seats.

    Not so fast, Dan. Northwest ran their 747-200s with 430 seats. There were 30 business class and 400 coach seats. That is pretty high density, and probably as high density as you’d want to consider for the long hauls they were running with them. They put these on high leisure routes like Japan to Hawai’i and it was good for the purpose. But they still retired the airplane.

  104. Axelsarki says:

    CF wrote:

    But they still retired the airplane.

    Because it does not make sense to fly 20 year old airplanes in 2009! No one else does it, (in the US) so I dont see why FAI would be exempted. It’s a 747, not an 737. It is made for long haul routes with a decent PAX load. I dont see how you can fly such a big airplane in markets where there is already adequate or to much capacity. Adding a 747 does not seem like a good idea for a LAX-LAS run, already flown numerous times daily? Sure, $19 fares attract people, but if you fly once daily, with no refunds or ticket changes, people like me would rather fly WN, with chances of fly later that day.

  105. David SFeastbay says:

    There’s been talk about who would want to get into JFK at 2am, I was also one who downed that time. But today for some reason I thought to get out a PEOPLExpress timetable I have that is from October 1984 and check it out.

    Now while JFK and EWR are different airports, they are in the same metro area so we can look to compare arrival times. I was surprised to see flights arriving into EWR in the middle of the night. While there were flight arriving around midnight and 1am which you can find now at some major airports, PEOPLExpress which was known for low fares had flights arriving very late or early depending on how you look at it.

    Here are some examples:

    from

    PBI arrived EWR at 1:52am and 5:10am

    SRQ arrived EWR at 2:40a and 5:34am

    PIE arrived EWR at 3:17am

    MIA arrived EWR at 3:15am

    LMB arrived EWR at 2:55am

    So who would be on those flights, well not counting people who had some emergency situation and had to get to N.Y. asap, it would be anyone in 1984 who wanted to save $20 over the normal fare. The daytime fare Florida to Newark was $99, but taking those late flights was $79. The timetable had the fares listed for every flight so you knew these late flight were cheaper.

    Newark wasn’t the only city PEOPLExpress had flights arriving in the middle of the night. They had flights leaving EWR around the 11:30pm time heading to Florida, and those flights also arrived in the middle of the night.

    So while some could say who would want to get into a city in the middle of the night, the price if greatly lower then a ‘normal’ airline flying during the day or on a night flight west to east, would be a compelling reason to fly Family and get into JFK at 2am.

    Would a family with small kids want to do this, hard to say. I’m sure some would if the cost was really worth it for them, but a lot of parents would not want to deal with sleepy small children and baggage and transportation all in the middle of the night at JFK. And those who had never been to NY would not want to arrive in a strange city at 2am and try and get to where they need to be.

    So while arriving into a city at 2am is a judgement call for each person, Family is going to need at least 500+ people wanting to do it on every flight they have. People wanting to fly at a time like that, would have time to have dinner before the flight, and would want to try and get some sleep before they have to start functioning at 2am. How is Family going to sell food and entertainment options to pay for the flight to these people?

    wow now over a 100+ comments on this blog subject, now Cranky that is a record right?

  106. David SFeastbay says:

    @ CF:

    Where can you get a used 747? Anyone see the September 2009 issue of Airways magazine? Their cover story was “Deserted in the Desert” and was about jetliners parked at Victorville. The cover photo alone had 16 747′s, a number of them were cargo planes mostly from Cathay and other Asia carriers. The pictures inside had even more. Granted the airliners with the complete paint job of the airline may just be in storage and not for sale, but there were some all white versions that could be.

  107. CF says:

    David SF – that was a different world when PeopleExpress came on the scene. Fares before they arrived were much higher so the discount was significant enough to get people onboard. Once other options during normal hours came down in price, it hurt them. Thanks to revenue mgmt at other airlines, it was easy to compete with PE and not cmpletely lose their shirt. Now, look at NYC and there is plenty of low fare competition with more coming in every day. Add on, as you’ve said, a huge 747 and I think it’ll be near impossible.

  108. David SFeastbay says:

    I put a comment earlier about sample fares the Family website listed and while I just posted a comment about PEOPLExpress having flights arriving in the middle of the night, I also mentioned they had fares listed for each flight.

    Now if you remember PEOPLExpress flew 747′s between EWR and SFO/LAX as well as EWR to London/LGW, so I check out those fares and here is what they were to compare with Family.

    Day flights between SFO and EWR were Premium Class for $299 and Coach $119. They had one flight each way between the two cities.

    Day flights between LAX and EWR were Premium Class for $299 and Coach $149, with one day flight each way.

    Overnight flight between LAX and EWR was Premium Class for $299 and Coach $119. There was a EWR to LAX flight that got into LAX about midnight and it was the same price as the overnight flight LAX-EWR.

    I also remembered that TWA used to have 747′s between JFK and LAS just like Family would have. This was back in the mid 70′s, but I thought it would be fun to see what the cost was as timetables in those days listed the price of each city pair.

    Here were the prices on a TWA 747 between LAS and JFK.

    July 1973 – First class $198 each way, Coach $149 each way, and a Roundtrip Discover America fare $266. For the Discover American fare you had to stay between 7 and 30 days and couldn’t flight between 2:01pm and 11:59pm on Fridays and Sundays.

    June 1975 – First Class $235 each way and Coach $167 each way.

    Family’s example of fares in the same JFK-LAS market was listed at $69.

    So anyone good with numbers to see what 2009 dollars would be from those mid 70′s prices to compare with Family’s $69? Granted those planes didn’t have 500+ people on them, and they were daytime flights in each direction so the cost wouldn’t need to be lower to get people to fly for middle of the night arrivals, but it still seems that $69 wouldn’t pay the bills.

    FYI while the TWA 747′s between SFO/LAX to JFK were timed for connections to TWA’s Transatlantic flights, the LAS-JFK flights were not. So it was a completely domestic service to compare to Family.

  109. Fred says:

    @ David SFeastbay:That was a time when the airline fares and destinations were regulated by the government…..big difference in times with today’s open skys

  110. Fred says:

    My first flight on a @ David SFeastbay:My first flight on a 747 was from JFk to LA in 1970, the coach fare on American Airlines was $375.00 RT to best of my recognition……..that would probably make American’s fare to about $3,750.00 You can probably buy it today for less than $300

  111. Dan says:

    Every time I travel, this blog fills up again. I responded this morning from Rockford IL (big airshow there today with F-22 Raptor), and am now back home in Las Vegas tonight. Air travel is wonderful — but US Airways now charges $5 for snacks, $7 for some box sandwich meals (which they discovered they didn’t have on board), and I think she said $7 for a blanket and pillow! Wow. They all want to copy Family Airlines, it seems, and we haven’t even flown yet!

    Northwest 747-200s that carry 430 passengers? I didn’t know that! Where can I buy some? Those could be great for some short hauls. And they wouldn’t take as long to board or ‘de-plane’. Our turnaround times are going to need some serious tweaking.

    There are many details of Family Airlines that have not been worked out — the CEO has no clue what a Flight Attendant job entails, beyond the FAA minimum requirements. I’ve told him it will be impossible to hand out special meals (custom for each passenger, as ordered on-line in advance) in our shorter flights, with just minimum staffing. I’ve told him we often carried 17 to 23 flight attendants on the United 747s, but much of that was due to long flight requiring rest periods — but they all worked for those big meal services.
    Can you imagine 581 passengers and the F/A making an announcment: “would Mr. Johnson ring his call bell — I have his Kosher sandwich here” — and 15 Mr. Johnson’s ring their bells!
    Another area we have not worked on is getting 581 passengers on and off in reasonable time for a turnaround.

    For those who worry about families not wishing to take their kids on our late night flights or business men not wanting to arrive at JFK at 0200 — the answer goes like this: “Then… I guess THOSE folks will have to pay 3 or 4 times our fare to ride on someone else during the hours they prefer.”
    Keep in mind, not all of our flights will be late night! We plan to run the planes all day, as well. Its just that SOME of our destinations (not many, but a couple) have difficulty finding us gates or landing slots during the daylight hours. Other airports this is not a problem.

    We do plan to avoid the big airports if possible, if they want high landing fees and parking fees, and all that. EG, we might land at Sanford, FL, instead of MCO. We have been told ORD gates are full around the clock — so…. Rockford, IL is very tempting … And it will be the only route (LAS-RFD) that I’m aware we will compete with Allegiant Airlines, but they only fly there twice a week. We’ll do it 7 days a week.
    We’re looking at St. Petersburg, not Tampa (St Pete begs us to fly there — as do many of these alternative airports). And yet, IAH rolled out the red carpet for us with discounts or elimination of most fees — strange, thats a big CO hub. No need to land at Hobby for us.

    Likewise, I kinda doubt we’ll pay much of anything if we land at KOA instead of HNL — the Hawaii Visitors Bureau begs for 747 service to the Big Island. (Yes, I know KOA has many wide-bodies — I’ve flown them all there… ever seen an empty seat in or out of KOA? Not me.. Not in 20 years of flying there!!)

    Likewise, some tend to describe reluctance of passengers to fly on red-eye flights. Believe me, the factual data may well prove me wrong, but maybe I just take the more popular flights, because in my 30 years of airline flying, my observation is almost NEVER an empty seat on an all-nighter. The airlines know how to discount those prices to get folks past their objections to the late night flights.
    Perhaps I’ve lived a sheltered life, but I can’t recall less than 95% load factor on any flight to/from Hawaii since about 1985. And the returns are almost always 10 pm – 5 a.m. Never an empty seat.

    Same for flights from LAS-LAX and LAS-SFO. Axelsarki worries we can’t fill a 747 on those runs. I’ve commuted those routes on jumpseats for years because there is almost NEVER an empty seat in the cabin, on any airline. When United flew TED, I don’t recall getting a seat in the cabin more than 2 or 3 times in 6 years, (and I flew it 3 or more times per week) and then only due to a no-show, probably stuck in the horrible TSA security lines at LAS.
    They’re still building hotels on the stirp in Vegas. A brand new one opens in a couple of months in the new “City Center” (not in the center — out on the strip between Tropicana and Flamingo). And many hotels are still adding rooms.
    I don’t think we’ll have any problem filling every flight twixt LAS-LAX, LAS-SFO. Not sure if we plan to fly the 3rd leg of that triangle. (Not even sure we’ll land at SFO. SJC or OAK may be happier to see us.)

    I do want to emphasize that at our prices, and even if we increased them significantly (which we may do once we see how the demand will hold up), we think there will always be people ‘out there’ willing to fly at almost any hour of the day. They”ll just have to weigh the factors such as kids-in-tow, business men meatings, etc that may drive their decision to perhaps take a full fare (or Orbitz / expedia / travelocity / priceline discount fare) during daylight hours.

    And, passengers will have to ask themselves if they’re the type that can feel comfortable with a close pitch, crammed full of passengers flight, with all the amenities costing above the base-line fare. (Except for checked bags). Family Airlines will NOT be for everyone. There will be some recluse in the upper deck “Office Class”, but that will cost more. THose fares have not been published on our web site.

    Cargo: I said we will have the ability to carry UP TO 100,000 pounds of cargo, and then Aerokate copies that sentence and distorts it into: “Where will FAI get 100,000 lbs of cargo for each flight? L.A? Not likely. ”
    Where did I suggest FAI will get 100,000 lbs of cargo for EACH flght? UP TO I said!
    Yes, I agree, we’ll likely not haul much of anything out of Las Vegas, other than gambling winnings in crates (?) … Vegas doesn’t manufacture much of anything. Vegas is a user and consumer. Food, flowers, what else is shipped into town by air? Not much.
    But we plan to compete well for the cargo that exists, and with even cheaper rates, we will MAKE a market where one does not yet exist! That goes for passengers, too.
    We have researched numbers of passengers today between all our planned city pairs — there is certainly room for a 747 with 581 passengers on everyone of them at todays loads — and at our fares, the market will increase.

    Much like People Express of old, FAI will carry passengers who wouldn’t have flown on an airline before — they would have taken the bus!
    Expect a lot of former bus-riders on FAI.
    I often joke with my friends — be careful when you open the overhead bins — chickens and pigs may be there.. and we’ll have to watch for campers and hikers trying to build a campfire in the back aisles.
    An exaggeration, (we hope), but riding on Family will be much like PE of the 1980s. I don’t think you’ll find Tom Cruise or Paris Hilton on our planes.

  112. Dan says:

    Forgot to mention: Someone wondered about the logic of our maintenance and training being in Miami, and our office/ headquarters being in Las Vegas.
    Many reasons. FL is hot! Humid, bugs, ‘gators, snakes, hurricanes, storms, rains. We don’t allow those things in Vegas. Our heat is dry, when we have it. (Its COLD in Vegas from Oct-March!) Who’d want to live in Miami? Not us! We want to keep our HQ in Vegas.

    The real reason is that the local FAA FSDO couldn’t handle us here. So we went shopping. Found a friendly FAA office willing to deal with an upstart Part 121 airline in Miami. Likewise, we found 747 heavy maintenance facilities already existing in Miami, desparate for work. We also found two training facilities with simulators for old 747s there, again, happy to get another contract for pilot and flight attendant training. None of those exist in Vegas, although there is a building with 737 and MD-80 simulator in Henderson, NV, and we hope someday to relocate our crew training up here.

    But at the moment, Miami has it all, so we start there. We just don’t want to live there. And our route structure, while it includes MIA, is primarily a LAS hub thing.

    Now… is that ridiculous? Hmm… United Airlines HQ is out in the suburbs of Chicago, not at an airport (they move the high execs downtown Chicago recently, I’m told). But their pilot training simulator building is on Quebec street in Denver, CO. And their heavy maintenance has traditionally all been done at their SFO maintenance base, and more recently, in PEK, Shanghai, HKG, SIN, and SEL. (Shanghai is Pudong, can’t remember the identifier.. PDG?).
    Is that scattered, or what?

    American has always had a big maintenance facility in Tulsa, but HQ in Dallas / Ft. Worth area.
    Where does Southwest (WN — ok.. I know that, but figure everyone will know it by SW quicker) do its maintenance? At LUV field?

    Many airlines send their crews to Alteon (Boeing) simulators in Seattle. And their ops and hq’s are elsewhere.

    =======
    BTW, there seems to be another submitter of comments on this blog who uses the name “Dan” as well. I noted some comments above that were NOT from me. I don’t know how to identify the imposter. I suppose I could call my self Dan-from-FAI.

  113. james says:

    /quote from Dan: For those who worry about families not wishing to take their kids on our late night flights or business men not wanting to arrive at JFK at 0200 — the answer goes like this: “Then… I guess THOSE folks will have to pay 3 or 4 times our fare to ride on someone else during the hours they prefer.” /quote

    This quote doesn’t address CF’s prediction that should service commence, with said fares, then other airlines would simply match price. These are airlines that have more than one flight a day, and don’t depart from Rockford. What happens then?

    Speaking of Rockford, like the Phoenix resident mentioned 70some comments above – he doesn’t want a 747 landing above his house at 2am. Do the good folks of Rockford want daily 747 service into their city? I don’t see one comment regarding NIMBYS — from Dan or other readers. Correct me if I’m wrong but NIMBYS play a huge role in governing local airports. I fly to SNA a few times a year and NEVER schedule a departure post 4pm for that reason.

    You’re planning to service Miami – yet you dismiss their city as unlivable. Shouldn’t you be a bit more respectful to the residents of cities you want to extract money from? Whoever ends up writing “Family Ties,” or whatever your in-flight magazine will be called will have to work hard to overcome the “We don’t really care for Miami but it’s cheap for service” attitude. But since I’m not starting an airline in Miami I can ask “Why FAMILY airlines in Miami? Isn’t it all old people there?”

    /quote business men meatings
    /quote Its COLD in Vegas from Oct-March
    /quote There will be some recluse in the upper deck “Office Class”

    You don’t mean “recluse,” you mean seclusiveness or solitude. You need a professional copywriter. Period. Pun intended.

    I’ve been following these posts and almost every criticism has been met with “Yup you’re right” from the FAI response team – or Dan:

    Turnaround time — admitted to need tweaking.
    Cargo carrying – admitted it’s not guaranteed profit.
    Our website — it sucks.
    Even the name “Family Airlines” is bad and we don’t really like it.

    What the hell kind or corporate continuity and confidence is THAT? Marketing and public relations are the most visible parts of running a business. Corporate communications should be sharp, concise and respectfully refute criticisms. Not meekly agree with them. Come on – show some cojones.

    Also there are plenty of snakes in Vegas too. As a hiker and camper who’s been to Red Rock Canyon I can attest to that. And why would I start a fire on your airplane?

    Lastly – You need to should stop comparing FAI to “riding the bus.” There are some nice metro transport systems scattered around this country and abroad. Check out “Megabus” for example: WiFi, comfy seats, good fares and service. They’re established, have money, and are actually operating the transportation vehicles that they set out to in their initial business plans. Until we have intercity high speed rail (long after I’m dead,) it’s not a bad option for medium distance city hopping.

    Godspeed.

  114. Dan says:

    James:
    I’m not the PR guy. I’m the flight ops guy. When we get a PR guy, he can give you all those politically correct and perfumed answers. And he’ll be sharp, concise, and respectful and spell things correct. correctly?
    I give what I know, and what I’ve dealt with. I’m honest that I don’t predict a ride on Famiily Airlines will be a walk in the rose garden.

    What I write is not ‘corporate communications’. Its my responses to the Cranky Flier’s first posting, and all the messages hence forth on this site. While I do volunteer work at FAI, I’m not a paid employee, and certainly not paid to give only sugar-coated news about our proposed airline. Someone else will have to do that later when we get some funding.

    Miami: You said: <<>>
    I wasn’t disrepectful to the residents of Miami. I was disrepectful to their environment, weather, and critters who might bite you!
    Somene asked why we split the HQ and the training and maintenance, and I explained why — we don’t want to move our HQ to Miami! But everything else is already there. We’ll set up an office in Miami to handle our affairs there, as is required by the FAA.

    Rockford: You asked: <<>> As a matter of fact, they do.
    They met with us about a year ago, suggesting we fly 747s into their city. They are proud of their airport and its recent expansion. It has a fine passenger terminal with jetways. They have 747s landing there already, I’m told, or at least some large wide-body cargo jets — it is apparently a big cargo hub or destination (another good reason to serve RFD!). Their airport is on the south side of town, and you can fly in or depart without flying directly over the city in most cases.
    Now, don’t you come back with ‘yeah, but will they welcome you at 2 a.m.?’ because I NEVER said we’d serve RFD at 2 a.m.! We might, and we might not! I’d guess there would be no ‘slot’ or gate problems at RFD, so we could land and takeoff there at high noon if it fits our other schedule!

    Come on guys (and girls), I’m not the accountant, I didn’t develop the business plan, I don’t agree with all of the concepts of FAI, but… I will try my best to make the operational end of it work if they can get some funding and we can equip the planes, and train the crews to do the job. And, I’ll be working with the FAA to get that Part 121 certificate.

    Much of the stuff we’ve been discussing belongs to someone else in the airline, and are decisions made by others — I just live with them. I cannot prove we will have a full plane every flight — that’s just a prediction by the CEO and accountant when they tried to figure out if this airline can make any money.

    Nonetheless, I have been told the business plan spreadsheet that has been or will be presented to potential investors who qualify to see it, proposes a much lower load factor, for theoretical purposes, to satisfy the nay-sayers who thinks our plan won’t work at anything less than 100% load factor.

    You’d have to be a qualified investor to see that spreadsheet or receive any confidential or proprietary information, as customary business practice. I’m not about to reveal any of those numbers here.

    The information on the DOT website is public information, however. An airline analyst like CF can make something out of it.

    Dan

  115. Anonymous says:

    Dan, you are a very brave man. However, you won’t make any money with Family Airlines. None.

    ORD will allow you to fly into the international gates and they are available. They do cost more.

    Freight cannot subsidize passenger fares to the extent that it is being planned. Your passengers are paying 30% of the ride. WN will sue you for dumping of seats…and will win. They did not sue Tower Air because they were that bad.

    Tower Air had military contracts once upon a time. It propped up their model for some time. You won’t even have that to break your fall.

    As you may know as an airline pilot, airlines always keep their planes full. In good times, they make money. In bad times, they lose less money doing this. However, full planes are not a sign of success or profitability. Your current setup has you losing 70 cents on the dollar with a full aircraft.

    Maintaining a website is as simple as creating a Word document. My website isn’t the best, but it conveys current information. That is what websites do. There is absolutely no excuse for not doing such. Nothing says “I’m clueless” more than a fancy website that says nothing.

    Most low cost airlines today will have a lower CASM. Certainly, AirTran, Southwest, JetBlue, and Virgin America. Allegiant does too. You will not be able to compete with them.

    The DOT thinks that your airline is just a front to either engage in investment fraud or launder money. They are being nice not to say it in those words, but an IPO is not just something you do that quickly or easily. Virgin America used hedge funds to get funding. The strange (and outdated) business model is dwarfed by the unrealistic financial projections and anyone looking for an IPO should know that airlines do not make money on the first day.

    The DOT is trying to be fair, but they are going to reject this application.

  116. CF says:

    Fred wrote:

    My first flight on a 747 was from JFk to LA in 1970, the coach fare on American Airlines was $375.00 RT to best of my recognition……..that would probably make American’s fare to about $3,750.00 You can probably buy it today for less than $300

    $375 roundtrip in 1970 would be about $2,050 today.

    Dan wrote:

    Wow. They all want to copy Family Airlines, it seems, and we haven’t even flown yet!

    Dan, now you’re getting downright delusional. You think the airlines are copying Family’s plans? I don’t think so.

    Northwest 747-200s that carry 430 passengers? I didn’t know that! Where can I buy some?

    Go buy a 6 pack of Schlitz. That’s probably where they are today.

    For those who worry about families not wishing to take their kids on our late night flights or business men not wanting to arrive at JFK at 0200 — the answer goes like this: “Then… I guess THOSE folks will have to pay 3 or 4 times our fare to ride on someone else during the hours they prefer.”

    True. If you are only flying into JFK in the middle of the night, the other airlines probably won’t match because they won’t even view it as competition. If you fly a redeye and so do they, then they’ll match you on that. If you start to take a bunch of good traffic, they’ll match. But the reality is that you won’t take good traffic. You’ll take traffic so cheap that you won’t make money on it and the other airlines will gladly let you do that until you bleed out. (BTW, late night flights are much harder to make ancillary revenue on. You think advertisers want to pay for an ad when people will just sleep through it?)

    We do plan to avoid the big airports if possible, if they want high landing fees and parking fees, and all that. EG, we might land at Sanford, FL, instead of MCO. We have been told ORD gates are full around the clock — so…. Rockford, IL is very tempting … And it will be the only route (LAS-RFD) that I’m aware we will compete with Allegiant Airlines, but they only fly there twice a week. We’ll do it 7 days a week.

    You do understand that Allegiant doesn’t fly more often because they can’t fill more planes, right? Allegiant uses a pricing model similar to what you’re proposing, yet they have far fewer seats despite strong hotel partners in Vegas. You are going to fly 581 seats to a market so far away from most of Chicago that time and time again it’s been shown that people won’t use it as an alternate. It’s great for the far northwestern suburbs as a potential alternative, but those people aren’t going to fill a 747.

    ever seen an empty seat in or out of KOA? Not me.. Not in 20 years of flying there!!)

    Then you somehow got lucky for 20 years. I’ve seen plenty of empty seats to KOA during off peak seasons.

    Likewise, some tend to describe reluctance of passengers to fly on red-eye flights. Believe me, the factual data may well prove me wrong, but maybe I just take the more popular flights, because in my 30 years of airline flying, my observation is almost NEVER an empty seat on an all-nighter. The airlines know how to discount those prices to get folks past their objections to the late night flights.

    You keep equating full flights to profitability, but we all know that’s not how it works. As has been mentioned, your passenger revenue will cover a very small percent of your costs. Even if you miraculously fill your airplane (something none of us would believe), you’ll still be short on money.

    I do want to emphasize that at our prices, and even if we increased them significantly (which we may do once we see how the demand will hold up), we think there will always be people ‘out there’ willing to fly at almost any hour of the day.

    Wait, what?!? You’ve already conceded that your business model may not work and you’ll have to jack up fares?!? Then how will you fill up the plane if you raise fares?

    We have researched numbers of passengers today between all our planned city pairs — there is certainly room for a 747 with 581 passengers on everyone of them at todays loads — and at our fares, the market will increase.

    What sort of research have you done? Because I think you need to look at more than load factor here.

    But at the moment, Miami has it all, so we start there. We just don’t want to live there. And our route structure, while it includes MIA, is primarily a LAS hub thing.

    I thought you were looking at alternative cities like St Pete and Rockford because of costs and access? If that’s the case, then Miami is the last big city you should consider because it’s so incredibly expensive as an airport.

    Now… is that ridiculous? Hmm… United Airlines HQ is out in the suburbs of Chicago, not at an airport (they move the high execs downtown Chicago recently, I’m told). But their pilot training simulator building is on Quebec street in Denver, CO. And their heavy maintenance has traditionally all been done at their SFO maintenance base, and more recently, in PEK, Shanghai, HKG, SIN, and SEL. (Shanghai is Pudong, can’t remember the identifier.. PDG?).

    United moved their execs downtown quite awhile ago and they just announced they’ll be shutting down the Elk Grove offices and moving everyone else downtown as well. But since when is mirroring what United does considered best practice, anyway?

    There’s a difference between where you base your decision makers, including operational decisions, and where you do maintenance.

    james wrote:

    Do the good folks of Rockford want daily 747 service into their city?

    I actually don’t think NIMBYs will be a huge issue in these places. If the airport is open for late night flying, then these guys will be able to fly in. SNA is definitely not going to be one of those airports. Besides, those planes aren’t that loud when they’re flying empty . . .

    Dan wrote:

    Come on guys (and girls), I’m not the accountant, I didn’t develop the business plan, I don’t agree with all of the concepts of FAI, but… I will try my best to make the operational end of it work if they can get some funding and we can equip the planes, and train the crews to do the job. And, I’ll be working with the FAA to get that Part 121 certificate.
    Much of the stuff we’ve been discussing belongs to someone else in the airline, and are decisions made by others — I just live with them.

    So who is making these decisions? I’d love to speak with them and give them a platform to explain how they think this is going to work. Put them in touch with me

  117. David SFeastbay says:

    You know what, I’m beginning to like Dan. He’s been up beat and has over come everyones opinions on Family Airlines even if he isn’t paid by them.

    But it does make me wonder, why I’ve not heard anything about Family Airlines other then in this blog. And after a 100+ posts I would think that Dan would have mentioned this blog to the head honcho(s) and one of them might come on board with some comments of their own regarding Family Airlines.

    Isn’t the way to show investors there is merit in your business is to get public interest in your business? I would think the plans/dreams/hopes Family Airlines has would be the topic of newspapers and the evening news. Leaving in the bay area Virgin America was always in the paper about what was happening in their long journey to get flying. That meant Virgin America themselves were keeping their name in the news and causing a buzz with the public. Is FAI doing that? Anyone live in Las Vegas and can say the local news has been buzzing with news of Family? Anyone in any city seen anything?

    How can you get investors or public interest to help your cause if no one knows there is a cause in the first place. But like I said, before Cranky’s blog I’ve never heard of Family Airlines and since their website has ‘sample’ fares to two cities where I live, you would have thought I would have. And since I’ve worked for an airline and have had an interest in passenger airline since I was a teenager, I would have noticed any local news items.

    OK if I type real fast, I’ll be comment number 117. Thank you everyone, this has been the more interesting and entertaining blog post I’ve even seen here on Cranky’s site.

  118. Axelsarki says:

    David SFeastbay wrote:

    newspapers and the evening news. Leaving in the bay area Virgin America was always in the paper about what was happening in their long journey to get flying. That meant Virgin America themselves were keeping their name in the news and causing a buzz with

    But Virgin is Virgin- It has Sir Branson’s name backing it. FAI has a history of a failed up start that resulted in the imprisonment of MIcheals, (The FAI CEO). If they include that in the story, sure as hell I will read it- but then that would be negative press for FAI, right? So maybe they are doing that on purpose. But, I am no “airline” CEO, maybe there are other reasons for it.

    Just my 2 cents.

  119. ttjoseph says:

    @ David SFeastbay:
    Yeah, Dan seems like a friendly and straightforward guy and has been from the start. He writes as if he trusts his colleagues at Family Airlines and believes in their explanations – easy to do when the opposing viewpoint is held by a bunch of strangers on the Internet – rather than having run the numbers (with realistic assumptions) himself. I am still deeply suspicious of this whole thing, and I hope Dan realizes that getting out before the CEO’s next indictment is a really good idea.

    Good point about the publicity. Where is the publicity? Although it’s probably a good bet few CF readers would ever want to fly this airline.

    @ CF:
    CrankyFlier should definitely, definitely interview Family Airlines. That post would probably attract more comments than this one!

  120. Dan says:

    So much to reply to..

    Kinda going backwards up the comments here. Yes, I did point out this entire exchange of comments to the CEO of Family Airlines. He called, my phone was off (in a meeting) and left a message that he was amused that I was bothering to offer replies. He has his plan, you cannot talk him out of it, he’s convinced it will work, and figures all of your comments above are from people who have nothing better to do than complain and have never tried to start an airline of their own.

    I’m kinda learning that Brett (CF) is a recognized airline analyst, not just a ‘cranky flier’ passenger that likes to air his problems with getting a first class seat, a blanket and pillow. I think many of the others on this list qualify as very knowledgeable people in the airline industry, and your comments are all taken as very helpful to me. I appreciate all of them, as you bring up points we have not had time, nor personel, to consider just yet, in many cases. We don’t have all the answers and there are many facets of the industry we simply have not gotten around to solving yet. You bring them up, and I am aware we need to tackle them. Thank you all!

    Its easy to pick on each detail, even if you got it wrong (why does the thought that all our flights in every city will arrive/depart at 0200 prevail here? Never said that!), and tear them apart. Every airline has details it must solve before start up, and thousand more per day every day thereafter. That’s what you do in business — unless you’ve got the perfect solution, you have a big staff that basically puts out little fires all day every day. We’ll do that, too. But we need to build the airline first to get started.
    And… that takes money. Did I say that before? :) Yeah, I guess I did. The answer to almost any question about ‘did ya think of THIS?’ is — “Well, we skimmed over it, but we haven’t hired the guy who will solve that one yet. When we get some funding………”

    News about Family Airlines — We have NO “PR” department. I’m it, I guess. The web site is only stumbled upon by those who are bored to tears and have nothing better to do but read DOT filings, or have been told about it on some aviation blog or something. It was a poor experiment to get SOMETHING posted. I’m not able to update it — don’t even have the user ID or password to do it. The person who did it is long gone.
    The local Las Vegas folks have had knowledge of us — but without funding, we can’t hold splashy news conferences, and have no new news to report until the DOT or the FAA act on us. And we’re not able to announce contracts with simulators or training or airports or passenger service contractors or bag handlers or mechanics because we have no funding for those things yet.
    Local Las Vegas news did an expose on Barry Michaels attempt to start up a Mini-care medical clinic, found out about his background with the long-ago attempt to start up a similar airline, and his prior life as a llicensed chiropractor (turned in his license, doesn’t do that anymore, has no intention of doing it again) and assumed he would be “Dr. Barry Michaels” at the clinic! Wrong! But… the news had a hay-day with it anyway. There is a web site for that, too. It was in May.
    Well, once they’d done that and googled him, they found out he was also starting an airline, and just like all of you, were convinced you could not fly a 747 at those cheap air fares, thinking airlines only survive on passenger air fares. And they knew what air fares are supposed to be. So, they added a 2nd blast on the 11 o’clock news.
    Thats about it for local new coverage of Family Airlines.

    CF asks “So who is making these decisions?” Obviously, they are all made by the CEO, Barry Michaels. Its his airline, his dream, his idea, and he has done this before, albeit unsuccessfully. He knows what he wants and has the backing of several financial advisors that have developed the business plan and the financial spreadsheets. He is convinced it can be done. He is convinced it will be profitable.
    He needs help in the areas he has not dealt with — operations, training, coordinating with airports, ATC, weather, dispatch, crew scheduling, passenger handling, bag loading. All that requires devoted volunteers willing to work for years with NO PAY. Hmm… where do you get such men? They come and they go. Turnover is vast. I had 9 or 10 very good volunteers working with me for months on the manuals. None of them got paid. Some lasted several months. One turned around and walked out in less than 2 minutes (what? No pay? Bye!). Its not easy to start an airline and have all the answers when you can’t pay anyone.

    I’m guessing Richard Branson was paying everyone on the Virgin America staff from the first day of their work to start a new airline.

    I’m guessing the Baltia airline (similar, all 747 operation, NY to lots of ‘communist countries’ (or former communist!) also has a paid staff.
    How about an unknown called “3E” airlines? They are seeking an FAA part 121 passenger certificate here in Vegas, and I can’t find anything on them. The web site reveals nothing and the contact page doesn’t work.

    When talking about why HQ and maintenance are in different locations, I mentioned UAL hq in Chicago, and maintenance in SFO and China.
    CF asks: ” But since when is mirroring what United does considered best practice, anyway?”
    I like that one! True! Having been an employee of United since the late 1970′s, and ridden thru their strike in 1979, another one in 1985, some bad times under some very bad CEO’s who could care less about its employees, and a terrible bankruptcy which the employees paid out of their pockets for life to help the company recover…. well… CF has it right — UAL is not the airline you look up to for how to do it right — they’re the airline to look to see how some problems were handled, and whether they were successful or not in choosing that solution.

    CF says: “I thought you were looking at alternative cities like St Pete and Rockford because of costs and access? If that’s the case, then Miami is the last big city you should consider because it’s so incredibly expensive as an airport.”
    Tell me more. This is NOT what we’re hearing from the Miami airport officials. The CEO met with them personally a few months ago, and they welcomed Family Airlines with open arms, and grand offers of assistance in all areas, discounts, cheap fees, parking, maintenance, and training facilities abound around the airport. What are we missing here? It all falls together for us in MIA. Even the FAA office there appears to be our best location for Part 121 certification. The Vegas FSDO is not staffed to do the job, they’ve told us often.

    Someone mentioned WN would sue us for ‘dumping seats’ or something like that? Tell me more, please. I have no idea what that means. Never been sued for selling seats too cheap before.

    Allegiant serving RFD. Yep, they serve RFD. It is not their intention to serve all of Chicago from there – they know other airlines serve ORD and MDW with similar fares to theirs. We, OTOH, plan on serving all of Chicago (or at least the NW quadrant thereof) from RFD. We feel at our prices, 581 people WILL be willing to drive 30 minutes to one hour from the ‘burbs’ or ORD area to fly on an airline (747) to a destination (likely we will fly RFD-JFK, and RFD-LAS, and maybe some other destinations) for a much cheaper fare than they can get at ORD, and not have to hassle with the parking and complexity of ORD.
    So, we’re NOT just drawing upon the Rockford Il community for passengers. But we like their airport. And it can handle a 747 easily.

    CF says: “You keep equating full flights to profitability, but we all know that’s not how it works. As has been mentioned, your passenger revenue will cover a very small percent of your costs. Even if you miraculously fill your airplane (something none of us would believe), you’ll still be short on money.”

    I agree, full flights do not equate to profitablity on airlines that cut their fares to keep them full. Our fares won’t be cut — they’re already at rock bottom. Our fares are the same, day or night, 7 days a week. I wish all airlines did that. But understand cut fares just minimize the losses from an empty airplane.
    As for the ‘still be short on money’ part, I’m not the money guy — all I can report is what the accountants tell us, and that we know passenger revenues are not the whole equation to FAI profitability.

    We could (and just might) double the airfares we’ve posted at some point.. and STILL be far below the competition and have full airplanes. That would double our income, right?

    We could increase our fares by $1 each step — until such time as we have our first empty seat (yeah, still living in the dream that all planes are sold out 30 days in advance). Then we’ll know the price at which the demand starts to dry up. I recall some economic class charts with things like “Marginal Propensity to Consume”. We’ll be exploring all of those once the flying starts and the ticket sales begin. Until then, its anybodies (educated) guess.

    Matching our fares? Most airlines that blast big ads about matched fares do so only on some small percentage of seats, (what? 6 seats on a 150 passenger plane go for that advertised price?) and only for a ‘limited time’. Will they do it on every seat on the plane? Every day? Will they steal all of our passengers? I doubt it. They can have those that tried but couldnt get a seat on the FAI plane that day.
    And with today’s airline marketing, those passengers will be paying for checking a bag, too, as well as that coke , snack, movie, (if other airline has movies!) etc. Oh, and they won’t have to look at advertising ‘in your face’.
    If the matching airline has the bank account to survive it at their high costs, and can out last us, OK. They win. That could happen, I’ll concede. I’d delight in the benefit to the traveling American public if Southwest or American or United are willing to match us on every flight on our routes for enough months to put us out of business! We’d have changed the industry forever. Passengers would insist on it — saying “FAI PROVED you can operate on those fares, because you matched them! Now we insist on them forever!”

    CF says: “You’ll take traffic so cheap that you won’t make money on it and the other airlines will gladly let you do that until you bleed out. (BTW, late night flights are much harder to make ancillary revenue on. You think advertisers want to pay for an ad when people will just sleep through it?)”

    We’ll see if we bleed out flying late night flights. Time will tell on many of the things you’ve all mentioned. Look at SkyBus — very similar plan with advertising, I’m told. They had funding. They had planes, they had a certificate. Where are they today? I think we need to look deeper at why they failed so we don’t make the same mistakes.
    As for advertising on late night flights — I agree. If I were an advertiser I would pay much less if the passengers will be known to be asleep! I’ll leave that to our advertising sales people to determine if we should have a separate fee for day time vs night time advertising.
    I kinda think the ad contracts will just be for several months block of time, whatever flights we fly. I don’t know, but they could maybe require a fee per passenger actually carried? I have no idea how that works.
    I’ll fly the plane, you load the passengers, and arrange the advertising for them. I’m just telling you how the advertising scheme is planned to increase revenue from just passenger fares.

    I’m learning a lot here — I’m thanking all of you for your concerns and reasonable inputs. These are all things this airline needs to consider seriously, if not considered already.
    I hope this web page survives until we get people hired to handle all these problems and they can come up with the solid answers that will solve all of them. I’ll be sure to show it to them.

    Now.. please send names of prospective people that might believe in a project like this that have $1 million or more in their pocket willing to invest in a risky proposition that just might work. Anyone know Richard Branson? Donald Trump? Send them our way!

    Dan

  121. asad says:

    I’ll echo what a lot of other people have said, Dan is a pretty cool straight forward guy. I have never started an airline business but have been involved in a couple of high tech start ups. From what I have heard and seen this idea doesn’t have a chance, but Dan having been involved with this for 8 years, I would say this is more a hobby than a serious business right ? Even the CEO isn’t doing it full time. If it works I’ll be one of the first to buy a ticket on the airline.

  122. Dan says:

    Asad:
    Thanks for the compliment. Not so sure about the ‘cool’ part, however!

    I have not been with Family Airlines for 8 years. Just two years. And I’ve seen many others come and go. Its easy to become disillusioned when you’re not getting paid and you see no money in sight.

    It was a full time job for me for about a year and a half, but I’ve got a disaster rental house that I’m rebuilding (tenant really trashed it!) and the airline is on ‘hold’ for me for a while.

    The lawyers and accountants (2 each) have it in their hands now and are doing a fine job of building the PPM and financial spreadsheets. I’ve seen them both, and they look really great. I wish I could share them with you all, but… there is just far too much proprietary information in them (as if anyone would be wanting to copy us!).

    This is NOT a public offering. It will be offered only to known individuals, funds, brokers that have an established relationship or something like that. SEC rules prescribe just who you can beg… er…. offer an investment like this to. I’ve been told only sincere investors will be allowed to see the spreadsheet. But its really good!

    The CEO has worked on an attempt to start a similar airline in 1993. Photos of the plane are found on the internet. They sold it, I’m told, when the investors fired the CEO and took over the airline. I did not hear of the airline until just a few years ago. Apparently Barry tried to start it up again approximately 2002 or so, and that attempt just fizzled. Again, lack of money to pay anyone.

    This time, we’ve had our good times (moved to a very nice office building, got lots of volunteers, filed with DOT, did a lot of work on manuals and started talking to contractors and airports), but again, lack of money and the volunteers have slipped away again.

    At the moment, we’re down to about 7 or 8 devoted employees — none of which are paid.

    As you can see, I could get rich if someone just paid me 10¢ per word that I write about this airline!

    Dan

  123. Axelsarki says:

    @ Dan:

    Any chance you can get Barry to talk with CF? He does his “Across the Aisle with…” Series of posts, I would love to see one with Barry.

  124. David SFeastbay says:

    I think everyone can stop knocking Family for having ads everywhere in and out of the plane with regards to who would see them at night when everyone is asleep.

    Just because a plane flys at night doesn’t mean it’s also not flying in the daytime and would be seen on the outside and have wide awake people on the inside.

    Even at night the cabin is not dark when people are boarding so ads will be seen. Does anyone stare at an ad for 5 hours…..no. Look at big name company’s who buy TV ads for 15 seconds, that gets the message across about their product just as much as someone seeing an ad on a plane at night before the lights are turned down.

    I would think a company would buy ad space based on the length of time the ads are up (say a month) and the number of planes they would be on. I find it hard to believe any airline or company would sell/buy ad space based on how many hours of day light the plane flys and how many hours of night time flying the plane flys. Is AA, DL, CO,UA selling ad space in their inflight magazines that way? I don’t think they are selling ad space based on how many people might read the mag on day time flights compared to how many may turn on the over head light and read the mag at night.

    So give Dan and Family a break on the ad issue. I’ve seen the same TV ads at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and at 2am so they do get seen no matter what time of the day they are looked at.

  125. BM says:

    @ David SFeastbay:
    @ Axelsarki:To All

    If any of you would like to ask a real question which Dan has not been able to answer regarding Family Airlines, I’m probably the guy to ask.

    Barry Michaels
    CEO
    Family Airlines

  126. CF says:

    I do give you a lot of credit, Dan, for sticking with the conversation here. This has been one of the most fascinating discussions we’ve had in a comments section on the blog. Now, for some more comments . . .

    Dan wrote:

    The web site is only stumbled upon by those who are bored to tears and have nothing better to do but read DOT filings, or have been told about it on some aviation blog or something. It was a poor experiment to get SOMETHING posted. I’m not able to update it — don’t even have the user ID or password to do it. The person who did it is long gone.

    I would highly recommend just having the site taken down completely. The WHOIS record says that it’s registered by Nevada Only and Barry Michaels is the contact. It’s registered with GoDaddy.com. Call them and they can help:
    http://whois.domaintools.com/familyairlines.com

    How about an unknown called “3E” airlines? They are seeking an FAA part 121 passenger certificate here in Vegas, and I can’t find anything on them. The web site reveals nothing and the contact page doesn’t work.

    Looks like 3eairlines.com is a Chinese outfit trying to do cargo lift with 747 freighters.

    Tell me more. This is NOT what we’re hearing from the Miami airport officials. The CEO met with them personally a few months ago, and they welcomed Family Airlines with open arms, and grand offers of assistance in all areas, discounts, cheap fees, parking, maintenance, and training facilities abound around the airport. What are we missing here?

    From a Fitch Ratings report issued on MIA earlier this year (March 2009):

    “MIA currently has an industry high airline cost position, at nearly $17 per enplanement that is projected to double by 2015 as additional operating and financing costs are passed onto carrier rates, affording limited financial flexibility should any meaningful retrenchment in airport traffic develop.”
    http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/fitch-rates-miami-dade-countys-600mm,757379.shtml

    Someone mentioned WN would sue us for ‘dumping seats’ or something like that?

    Theoretically an airline can be charged with being anticompetitive by selling seats below cost in order to run a competitor out of business. That doesn’t often succeed in the airline world, and it wouldn’t be them suing you guys for that purpose.

    We’d have changed the industry forever. Passengers would insist on it — saying “FAI PROVED you can operate on those fares, because you matched them! Now we insist on them forever!”

    That’s never happened before, and it won’t happen now. Look at Independence Air, for example. They had rock bottom fares out of Dulles and United matched aggressively. Once they went away, fares came back up because people realized they weren’t sustainable at those levels. The same thing would happen with Family.

    Look at SkyBus — very similar plan with advertising, I’m told. They had funding. They had planes, they had a certificate. Where are they today? I think we need to look deeper at why they failed so we don’t make the same mistakes.

    I think their route choices had a lot to do with their failure, but it’s also important to note that even though they wanted to sell ads all over the place, they weren’t very successful. For example, they had one logojet, and that was for Nationwide Insurance, one of the original investors in the company.

  127. CF says:

    BM wrote:

    To All
    If any of you would like to ask a real question which Dan has not been able to answer regarding Family Airlines, I’m probably the guy to ask.
    Barry Michaels
    CEO
    Family Airlines

    Fantastic, Barry. I would love to do a phone interview with you to discuss how you think this plan is going to work. What’s the best way to set that up?

  128. Dan says:

    I wrote:
    How about an unknown called “3E” airlines? They are seeking an FAA part 121 passenger certificate here in Vegas, and I can’t find anything on them. The web site reveals nothing and the contact page doesn’t work.

    CF writes: Looks like 3eairlines.com is a Chinese outfit trying to do cargo lift with 747 freighters.

    Not now. They’ve been doing that for years. Used Focus Airlines (defunct now) to haul freight for them.
    NOW they are trying to start up PASSENGER ops, LAX – some city in China I forgot, out west, Chengdu?– FRA. They have a team here in vegas, wearing suits (no one does that here!) they show up at FSDO to talk about getting a new 121 certificate here.
    Once again, a 747 airline with HQ in once city, ops in another. In fact, no intention that we can see to fly a plane into/out of LAS at all!

  129. BM says:

    @ CF: I’m not looking for interviews, only specific questions that you feel were not addressed properly by Dan

  130. CF says:

    BM wrote:

    @ CF: I’m not looking for interviews, only specific questions that you feel were not addressed properly by Dan

    Ok. That’s the same thing, I think, but that’s fine.

    1) Can you describe what information you’re using to determine that there is demand for this type of operation? (Just looking to get an idea of what you’re using, not specific data.)

    2) Why won’t you charge for bags?

    3) Do you have any advertisers lined up that are ready to pay or is this just a plan right now?

    4) How are you planning to fill your cargo holds considering the truck/train competition for domestic cargo?

    5) At your posted fares, even with 581 seats filled you still barely cover fuel (if you’re lucky). So how is it that you plan profitability with a mere 55% load factor?

    I’m sure I have more questions, but I’ll wait to see the responses to these first.

  131. Dan says:

    CF writes: “5) At your posted fares, even with 581 seats filled you still barely cover fuel (if you’re lucky). So how is it that you plan profitability with a mere 55% load factor?””

    Just curious where you get the 55% load factor? Is that your prediction?
    I think the only place I see it here is in a posting by ttjoseph on 21August, that he found in the DOT filing, and then quoted by CF and another.

    Either way, the information we’re working with is that with our fares we should be selling darn close to 100% of ASM. The concept is we will likely MAKE a market where only a small one or none exists today at those fares.

    Another small point I see in some postings — initial flights are not planned LAX-LAS-JFK. To start out, the CEO plans LAX-JFK-MIA-LAX and the opposite direction. Skip the LAS part for a while.

    Back up airplanes: I think his original plan was 3 planes, with one as a back up.. but with the ops on both coasts, and the used planes so cheap, I’ve been told we would buy 4 planes, and keep a ‘spare’ on each coast, should one of the long haul planes break down at the gate. The ‘spare’ plane would be in use, of course, flying short runs on each coast, but could be on site to replace the broken plane in short order to get the passengers to their destination — albeit a bit late.

    At this point, sorting out cancellations and rebooking passengers has not been addressed. We’re just forming the basic concept at this point, not nailing down every detail. That will come when we have funding and paid staff who know how to handle these things.

    So, the use of a spare plane is a hazy concept to us at the moment.

    It is my understanding the CEO does not plan on any interlining, so agreements with other carriers to take our distressed passengers are not probably part of our package at the moment. Same for baggage. No interlining. Does Southwest rebook passengers on other airlines when they cancel a flight? I don’t think so, but, yes, they have the advantage of another airplane going the same way in about one hour… we don’t. Hence we’re going to need a spare airplane that most airlines find to be a luxury they can’t afford.

    Those are details that I’m not sure how a small airline handles. We need some marketing, some customer service, and some reservations experts quickly! Oh yeah, and some good Public Relations folks to replace ME! But how do you get them to work for a year or two for no pay?

    I think you are seeing the problems here.

    CF, you have asked the CEO some very good questions, that address some of the basic concepts of Family Airlines. You have stayed away from the details, such as I just described above, that we will hammer out later as time and funds permit. Well done.

    Dan

  132. Dan says:

    CF… where do I find the ‘comment counter’? How do we know how many have been posted?

    ALso, how many hits / views / visits has this page had since August 19th?

    Just curious how many are seeing this exchange and learning about the problems of starting up a new airline!

    Dan

  133. Dan says:

    Oh… sorry. Just noticed the counter up top (its been a long time since I was way up there!). This must be comment # 133.

    Did we set a new record?

  134. David SFeastbay says:

    Dan wrote:

    Oh… sorry. Just noticed the counter up top (its been a long time since I was way up there!). This must be comment # 133.
    Did we set a new record?

    Dan that record was set many comments ago…….lol

  135. ttjoseph says:

    Dan wrote:

    Just curious where you get the 55% load factor? Is that your prediction?
    I think the only place I see it here is in a posting by ttjoseph on 21August, that he found in the DOT filing, and then quoted by CF and another.

    From the August 19 DOT filing, page 23:

    Although Family Airlines anticipates approaching 100% load factors, it believes it will have a break-even load factor of approximately 55%, due in part to its use of additional profit centers.

    And from page 28:

    We believe that with our ultra low fares, we can maintain extremely high load factors and drive our profitability, but we need to achieve a load factor of only approximately 55% to achieve our “break-even” point where our costs are equal to our revenues.

  136. CF says:

    Dan wrote:

    CF writes: “5) At your posted fares, even with 581 seats filled you still barely cover fuel (if you’re lucky). So how is it that you plan profitability with a mere 55% load factor?””

    Not a prediction, but as ttjoseph says, it’s in the DOT filing that 55% is the BELF (breakeven load factor).

    That is also straight from the DOT filing.

    Does Southwest rebook passengers on other airlines when they cancel a flight? I don’t think so, but, yes, they have the advantage of another airplane going the same way in about one hour… we don’t. Hence we’re going to need a spare airplane that most airlines find to be a luxury they can’t afford.

    No, they don’t.

    Those are details that I’m not sure how a small airline handles. We need some marketing, some customer service, and some reservations experts quickly! Oh yeah, and some good Public Relations folks to replace ME! But how do you get them to work for a year or two for no pay?

    You don’t unless you have an incredible plan that they buy into and really see a future. I think you’ll have trouble finding that.

  137. BM says:

    @ CF:
    Hi Brett,

    I neglected to say: I hate to type. Why don’t you call me at: 702 253-1520, or leave me a number and I’ll be glad to answer your questions.

  138. Hondo says:

    I have read a lot of these posts and I must say, that “Family Airlines” has some good ideas but I think the biggest mistake that they are making is operating a 747-300/400 and relying on advertising for revenue, I do respect Mr. Michaels but I think you should really think about some other ideas. I had mentioned in another posting about Family Airlines – why not use a 767-400 or a 757-300 vs. a 747-300/400? You would have to get them ETOPS certified if you want to fly them over the pound but the operating cost is much lower compared to a 747, even Las Vegas based Allegiant Air is to be rumored on getting some 757-200 with in the next year. One point I made was flying to SAN or LAX from LAS with a 747 which is a mistake in my eyes, operationally by the time you reach 28,000 or 30,000 feet, you will have to start making your decent to any one of those areas, it’s not just a waste of fuel but revenue also – how do you expect to serve 580 passengers when the block time is 50 min or so when you have stated you would charge for a drink – even WN has a hard time tasking care of 150 passengers in that amount of time. Now back to the fuel situation (sorry for bouncing around) if you figure your rate of climb at 2,000 fpm with a fuel burn of 200-500 gal a min and about 15-25 mins to reach cruise, it seems to be a waste of fuel compared to 757 what can reach 28,000 in about 10 minuets. Any pilot knows that you burn more fuel at lower attitudes also and logically, the 747 is not a great choice of an aircraft, especially when plan to do short haul flights from Vegas and I also do not see why flying a 747 is a “great choice” for long haul domestic flying. Anyone remember when UA did it with a 747-400 LAS-ORD for example? That lasted about a year because for one, the cost to operate that 747 was more than what they were actually making in revenue and this was pre 9-11 when Jet A fuel was about $1.50-$2.00 a gallon, I also think Northwest tried it with a PDX-DTW and MSP route – I even remembered when United used a 777 for a few days and it made a little profit.

    Here is another point with the 747-300/400….have you seen how hard some planes have taking off when it’s 94f+ outside? You have a fully fueled 747 loaded with 580+ people and about 100k lbs of cargo/bags, you are either going to be overgrossed, therefore you will be leaving either cargo or passengers behind or you will have to make a fuel stop. To make my point, the airline I worked for at the time, we used a M90 that went from LAS to DFW, 24k in fuel, 150 passengers and bags that departed around 1115am…had to depart on 7L had to get authorization to use 100% power and use flaps 30 for take off and still had a hard time to climb and some days we had to leave some passengers behind along with 100lbs of cargo. Dan, correct me if I am wrong I am still not clear on the choice of a 747 – I have just given you some valid point why not to operate a 747…Not trying to pick on you Dan but you should rethink another aircraft.

    Now with your making revenue for the airline. I like the idea of food for sale – if you have passengers order meals in advance. Drinks for sale…no so much, I would rethink this idea. As for advertising, I think it a good idea to a point. Anyone remember when Western Pacific was flying?? They were flying billboards in the sky. So maybe that part would work. As for making the inside of the plan look like a NYC subway…I am going on vacation, I don’t want to be bothered with advertising. Carry cargo is a great idea if you can get the contracts to carry cargo and YES you can do that on a 767.
    Here are some hints/ideas on making some extra money – charge for bags, charge to book on your website since you are not going to have a call center or allow ticket purchase at the airport, maybe a $15-$25 fee total? Think about pricing tiers for tickets, for example for economy have 4 to 6 different tiers for example, $29 to $99 (per leg)…want extra leg room? Charge for economy plus for another $15 to $45 (per leg)…want to upgrade to first/business class, add $100 to $175 (per leg) to the base of the economy seating. Maybe this does not make sense but every airline has different classes of service and offering upgrades would make sense.

    Dan – If I had time, I would build your airlines website for you but do not have the time to do so.

  139. eponymous coward says:

    Today, on a very special “Across the Aisle from Cranky”…

  140. Todd says:

    “Dan” Defends why 747 are good for the airline that hasn’t started flying yet…..

  141. BM says:

    @ Hondo:Everyone seems to be missing the point…..the only thing making this plan work is the 747, it will not work with any other aircraft…….except possibly Airbus 380. Everyone seems to be unaware that the 747 has the lowest cost per available seat mile (when used properly). Boeing actually states it in its aircraft sales manual. But all you need is a calculator. I discovered this in 1992 after having never been in the airlines business (ie., operating cost vs capacity).

  142. Todd says:

    BM wrote:

    @ Hondo:Everyone seems to be missing the point…..the only thing making this plan work is the 747, it will not work with any other aircraft…….except possibly Airbus 380. Everyone seems to be unaware that the 747 has the lowest cost per available seat mile (when used properly). Boeing actually states it in its aircraft sales manual. But all you need is a calculator. I discovered this in 1992 after having never been in the airlines business (ie., operating cost vs capacity).

    Please justify your statement? I been in the airlines for 12 years and using a 747 for domestic use doesn’t have any rhyme or reason…I don’t see taking a 747 from LAS to LAX or even SAN as a logical idea. especially like SAN where you have a 500 foot parking garage at the end of the runway, therefore making SAN with some serious landing restrictions. This is the exact logic with FAI where you will never get off the ground – trust me on this one. The 747 was never intended for domestic use, it was build to fly over the pound to places like HNL, SYD, LGW, CDG and even FCO from places like JFK, MIA, LAS, LAX or SFO…Barry, come on now…Yeah, it may say that in the sales manual but you have to realize that the 747 is for long haul. Maybe you can use it for a LAS or LAX run to JFK or MIA but not from LAS to SAN or LAX. Barry, I’d be more than happy to consult you guys on this and idea but be logical – Use a 767-300 or 400, if you are wanting to take lots of cargo, use a 767-400. You have to also look at the performance, especially in a place like Vegas where when the OAT hits 92-94f you have serious performance restrictions with any aircraft, you can lose up to 3000lbs for ever 2 degrees over 94f and if it gets to be 115f – guess what, you aren’t flying…Yes, the 747 is a good choice if aircraft if you are flying over the pound.

  143. Todd says:

    Barry, I also can do you website for you but it may take time.

  144. Hondo says:

    BM wrote:

    @ Hondo:Everyone seems to be missing the point…..the only thing making this plan work is the 747, it will not work with any other aircraft…….except possibly Airbus 380. Everyone seems to be unaware that the 747 has the lowest cost per available seat mile (when used properly). Boeing actually states it in its aircraft sales manual. But all you need is a calculator. I discovered this in 1992 after having never been in the airlines business (ie., operating cost vs capacity).

    BM –

    I would like to hear you logic on why a 747 is a good choice for aircraft for a route like SAN or LAX from LAS. As I have explained, it is not logical and the cost to operate is more than your actual revenue. You would in theory have to fly it at 21,000ft but if you plan to serve drinks, then I would suggest flying something smaller. As Todd has started, the 747 is build to fly over the water long haul – Yeah, you can fly it from a city like NYC to places like LAS or LAX which would be domestic long haul but not to SAN or LAX from LAS – again, that is not logical. Have you been to SAN? Smaller planes like a 737 or 757 have to clear that parking garage and drop the plane so if can land with out running out of runway. I know what the sales manuals say but you also have to remember what Boeing had intended the 747 for. I am a fan of the 747 but only if you plan on flying just long haul flights with, not for short haul. I would look in to the 767-400.

  145. ttjoseph says:

    @ BM:

    I’m curious about ancillary and cargo revenues.

    What would an advertiser pay for a few hours’ exposure to a maximum of 581 people who, by virtue of flying FAI in the first place, have demonstrated that they do not spend much money?

    For example: JFK-LAX is 2475 miles. Your 747 will cost $93500 to fly this leg at 6.5 cpm (difficult to believe in itself). With all 581 seats filled, it would cost $160/seat, for which you want to charge $69. That’s a $91 shortfall, or about $52800 total. Let’s be charitable and say you’d get $2800 in advertising revenue somehow. If you carry 100000 lbs cargo, you’ll need a 50 cents/lb profit just to break even, and that at a ridiculously high load factor. It gets better at your claimed 55% BELF, where you’d need nearly 70 cents/lb profit on a full cargo hold.

    UPS charges $1.50/lb east to west coast for “priority” air freight and $0.75/lb for “reserved” service, before any negotiated discounts. You won’t be competing with “priority” service from established carriers with years of cargo logistics experience and well-developed infrastructures, so you’ll have to significantly undercut their lowest rates. Good luck.

    @ Hondo:
    I think the selling point of the 747 for them was they could get old, non-glass 747s on the cheap. A 764 would presumably cost a lot more.

  146. BM says:

    @ Todd: To the contrary…..on our plan the short hauls are more profitable than the long ones and that’s primarily due to the structure of fares and competition in the domestic market.

  147. Dan says:

    Hondo and Todd:

    1) The word is ‘pond’, not ‘pound’!

    2) The Family Airlines plan will not work with smaller planes — 767, 757, are nice and logical for short hops in the traditional airline mode. But, they charge fares than can pay for 3 757s worth of crews, landing fees, parking fees, gate fees, instead of ONE 747. So.. we will pack them in (581), and charge cheaper fares — which will draw the passengers to fill the plane.

    3) Your explanations about takeoff roll, and heat (hey Todd, its 105 today and 109 tomorrow here in Vegas, not 92-94f) do not scare us when we are NOT taking off at 875,000 lbs (max weight, common 747-400… some are allowed more with bigger engines) with full fuel of 375,000 lbs to fly to SYD! We’re almost empty on fuel! This will be a rocket! Did you ever see a 747-400 takeoff with FULL load of passengers out of SFO, only going to DEN??? Using the shortest runway (1L), I’ve done just that. We were climbing like a scalded cat, well before the intersection with the 28L &28R — a bump all pilots try to avoid, but can’t with ‘heavy’ 737, 757, 767 or Scarebus. Going to DEN, we were so light due to NOT carrying all that fuel.
    Same for a flight I once did TPE to MAN. (Taipei to Manilla). I think we were airborne in less than 2500 feet takeoff roll, but still plenty of passengers. JUst for fun, we popped up to FL450 (because the 747-400 can do that!) for about 10 minutes, then screaming dive. THAT was supposedly close to the ‘optimum profile’ generated by our computers.
    Now, ATC probably won’t allow optimum profiles between LAS and LAX.
    But, at those light weights, if you can get to FL250 to FL300, you’ll be OK with a 747 on that short run.

    4. SAN: You guys are really grasping here. I’m very familar with the new (ok, about 20 years ago!) parking garage we always figure we’ll bounce our tires off the roof on approach to SAN 27. (Ever been to Dirty Dan’s Topless Bar at the bottom of that garage? They keep the music loud so you don’t hear the jets screaming overhead at about 200′)
    The 747 has easily landed at San Diego. United used to fly a ‘ropestart’ down there, then either go nonstop to Hawaii from there, or maybe they flew up to LAX (hows that for a short hop for a 747? SAN-LAX!) then to HNL, and I think they even went over to LIH (Lihue — very short runway for an airliner bigger than a guppy) with it.
    I’d have NO problem landing a 747 at our very light weights or taking off from SAN.
    You guys keep forgetting this will be an overpowered rocket when you fly a 747 with only fuel for a 1 to 4 hour flight. The weight of 581 passengers is peanuts compared to the fuel required to fly to NRT, HKG, or SYD. Our wing spars will thank us for the big relief from what they’ve been carrying for so many years!

    5. Forget about trying to convince us to fly ANYTHING smaller than a 747. Talk all you want. Its NOT going to happen. The cost per seat mile goes way up, especially if you factor in airport fees. And you talk about maintenance… hey, for carrying 580 passengers, I’d rather pay the maintenance and checks on ONE 747, instead of C checks and D checks and overhauls on 5 737s, or 3 757s or 2 767s. Think how many engines are on 3 757s — six of them!
    Think how many pilots it takes to fly 3 757s == six of them! How many does it take to fly a 747 (in todays market, pay scales are sadly way too similar for 757, 767, 777, and 747)? Two pilots (+ one Flight Engineer on ropestart 747).

    6. Serving meals and drinks… Now you’re talking. Very few airlines have solved the mystery of how to serve drinks, much less meals, on short flights. Southwest does a good job of taking orders on the ground, and prepping little trays in seat order configuration — run down the aisle and pass them out! I’ve even been on Southwest flights where the 10,000 ‘ding’ (now 18,000′ on United, maybe others) sounds on descent, and the F/A’s shout “Last call if you want one more drink! You’ll have to chug it!”
    Has Family Airlines solved this mystery? Not at all. In fact, we have two In Flight ‘experts’ whom we have not seen this year. No one working that department. Details to be worked out. CEO wants minimum staffing of 15 F/A’s. I’m darn sure that will NOT work when it comes time to sling out 581 ‘special meals’ (remember, everyone gets to choose inidividual meals from our menu on line). Can you imagine the PA call: “Will Mr. Johnson who ordered the Kosher hot dog please ring his call bell?” And 12 Mr. Johnsons punch the button! Clearly, we’ll have a better system, meals arranged by seat (better sit in your assigned seat or you’ll get the hagish ordered by Mrs O’shaunessey in 32C) or something like that.
    But it will take a very good system to sling out meals to 581 quickly and accurately. Same for drinks.
    I hate meal/drink carts in the aisle. US Airways is really bad about that — when they finally turn the seat belt sign off, the FA’s block the aisle with carts. Bad. It works to avoid FA running up and down the aisle, but.. maybe something like a ceiling track with J-hook tray carriers to slide the meals to the row? I dunno, that’s probably not workable, but somethings gotta work. Maybe the cold meals could be in boxes on a rack by seat number and you grab yours as you board the plane?
    We need some new technology here. And a perfect system to get these out quickly.
    Drink service where each drink requires — cup, put the ice in, find a can with some fluid remaining (note how much time wasted by US Airways FAs picking out a can only to find it has just one oz remaining?), then pour, wait for the fizz to settle, pour some more, grab a napkin, hand the napkin and drink to the customer — AND — collect money if its a mixed or alcholic drink? Crazy. Drinks have got to be more like this:
    Row 25ABC. Coke, 7-up, cranberry juice? OK… Here ya go: one coke, one 7up, one juice. You each get a full can/bottle. Here’s 3 cups with ice (already set up on the cart). Next row!

    US Airways just changed to a very nice 12 oz cup. Rubbery plastic (won’t crack and leak if squeezed or placed in seat pocket back like United’s cheap hard plastic cups). I think Southwest has same cup.

    Anyway, as you can see, we DO have some serious work to do to plan to serve meals and drinks to 581 passengers.

    7. Forget charging for baggage check. I saw on news today US Airways now raising bag check to $25 (online) or $35 (at the airport). Obviously, the bean counters see $$$, and have no clue what that will do to the already overstuffed overhead bins, boarding time, and deplane time. Overhead bins just do NOT replace the baggage compartments below! Everyone will want to carry on if you don’t make it cheap and easy to check it!
    With 581 passengers, we do NOT need everyone dragging a bag on the plane, trying to find overhead bin storage for it all. The more that check the better. True, no one wants to wait for baggage claim. True, we’ll lose a few bags and there will be complaints and claims and lawsuits. But, we’ll be sub-contracting baggage handling — hopefully we’ll be able to dump those problems on the contractor.

    OK… Got it?

    NO MORE ‘why don’t you use 7X7 instead of 747?’ We’re going to use the 747 no matter what you guys wanna say!

    No more: You can’t take off or land in XXX airport due to (short runway, heat, weight, etc). The 747 CAN handle every airport we plan to fly to, any weather, any day, with full passengers and some cargo.

    No more: ‘You can’t serve meals quick enough’ (you may be right!) — we’ve got to work with that.

    No more : ‘You can’t make any money on those fares’ We don’t plan to, at least not on every flight. The fares are subsidized by the other profit centers. Already explained, and debatable as to their viability. Good luck to us!

    Whats this about a “Across the Aisle” thing? Did Cranky interview our CEO? Where do I find that?

  148. Todd says:

    @ BM:

    BM – I disagree…I think you logic is way off. I still don’t how a 747 would profit on a short haul flight.

  149. Todd says:

    Dan wrote:

    Hondo and Todd:
    1) The word is ‘pond’, not ‘pound’!
    2) The Family Airlines plan will not work with smaller planes — 767, 757, are nice and logical for short hops in the traditional airline mode. But, they charge fares than can pay for 3 757s worth of crews, landing fees, parking fees, gate fees, instead of ONE 747. So.. we will pack them in (581), and charge cheaper fares — which will draw the passengers to fill the plane.
    3) Your explanations about takeoff roll, and heat (hey Todd, its 105 today and 109 tomorrow here in Vegas, not 92-94f) do not scare us when we are NOT taking off at 875,000 lbs (max weight, common 747-400… some are allowed more with bigger engines) with full fuel of 375,000 lbs to fly to SYD! We’re almost empty on fuel! This will be a rocket! Did you ever see a 747-400 takeoff with FULL load of passengers out of SFO, only going to DEN??? Using the shortest runway (1L), I’ve done just that. We were climbing like a scalded cat, well before the intersection with the 28L &28R — a bump all pilots try to avoid, but can’t with ‘heavy’ 737, 757, 767 or Scarebus. Going to DEN, we were so light due to NOT carrying all that fuel.
    Same for a flight I once did TPE to MAN. (Taipei to Manilla). I think we were airborne in less than 2500 feet takeoff roll, but still plenty of passengers. JUst for fun, we popped up to FL450 (because the 747-400 can do that!) for about 10 minutes, then screaming dive. THAT was supposedly close to the ‘optimum profile’ generated by our computers.
    Now, ATC probably won’t allow optimum profiles between LAS and LAX.
    But, at those light weights, if you can get to FL250 to FL300, you’ll be OK with a 747 on that short run.
    4. SAN: You guys are really grasping here. I’m very familar with the new (ok, about 20 years ago!) parking garage we always figure we’ll bounce our tires off the roof on approach to SAN 27. (Ever been to Dirty Dan’s Topless Bar at the bottom of that garage? They keep the music loud so you don’t hear the jets screaming overhead at about 200?)
    The 747 has easily landed at San Diego. United used to fly a ‘ropestart’ down there, then either go nonstop to Hawaii from there, or maybe they flew up to LAX (hows that for a short hop for a 747? SAN-LAX!) then to HNL, and I think they even went over to LIH (Lihue — very short runway for an airliner bigger than a guppy) with it.
    I’d have NO problem landing a 747 at our very light weights or taking off from SAN.
    You guys keep forgetting this will be an overpowered rocket when you fly a 747 with only fuel for a 1 to 4 hour flight. The weight of 581 passengers is peanuts compared to the fuel required to fly to NRT, HKG, or SYD. Our wing spars will thank us for the big relief from what they’ve been carrying for so many years!
    5. Forget about trying to convince us to fly ANYTHING smaller than a 747. Talk all you want. Its NOT going to happen. The cost per seat mile goes way up, especially if you factor in airport fees. And you talk about maintenance… hey, for carrying 580 passengers, I’d rather pay the maintenance and checks on ONE 747, instead of C checks and D checks and overhauls on 5 737s, or 3 757s or 2 767s. Think how many engines are on 3 757s — six of them!
    Think how many pilots it takes to fly 3 757s == six of them! How many does it take to fly a 747 (in todays market, pay scales are sadly way too similar for 757, 767, 777, and 747)? Two pilots (+ one Flight Engineer on ropestart 747).
    6. Serving meals and drinks… Now you’re talking. Very few airlines have solved the mystery of how to serve drinks, much less meals, on short flights. Southwest does a good job of taking orders on the ground, and prepping little trays in seat order configuration — run down the aisle and pass them out! I’ve even been on Southwest flights where the 10,000 ‘ding’ (now 18,000? on United, maybe others) sounds on descent, and the F/A’s shout “Last call if you want one more drink! You’ll have to chug it!”
    Has Family Airlines solved this mystery? Not at all. In fact, we have two In Flight ‘experts’ whom we have not seen this year. No one working that department. Details to be worked out. CEO wants minimum staffing of 15 F/A’s. I’m darn sure that will NOT work when it comes time to sling out 581 ’special meals’ (remember, everyone gets to choose inidividual meals from our menu on line). Can you imagine the PA call: “Will Mr. Johnson who ordered the Kosher hot dog please ring his call bell?” And 12 Mr. Johnsons punch the button! Clearly, we’ll have a better system, meals arranged by seat (better sit in your assigned seat or you’ll get the hagish ordered by Mrs O’shaunessey in 32C) or something like that.
    But it will take a very good system to sling out meals to 581 quickly and accurately. Same for drinks.
    I hate meal/drink carts in the aisle. US Airways is really bad about that — when they finally turn the seat belt sign off, the FA’s block the aisle with carts. Bad. It works to avoid FA running up and down the aisle, but.. maybe something like a ceiling track with J-hook tray carriers to slide the meals to the row? I dunno, that’s probably not workable, but somethings gotta work. Maybe the cold meals could be in boxes on a rack by seat number and you grab yours as you board the plane?
    We need some new technology here. And a perfect system to get these out quickly.
    Drink service where each drink requires — cup, put the ice in, find a can with some fluid remaining (note how much time wasted by US Airways FAs picking out a can only to find it has just one oz remaining?), then pour, wait for the fizz to settle, pour some more, grab a napkin, hand the napkin and drink to the customer — AND — collect money if its a mixed or alcholic drink? Crazy. Drinks have got to be more like this:
    Row 25ABC. Coke, 7-up, cranberry juice? OK… Here ya go: one coke, one 7up, one juice. You each get a full can/bottle. Here’s 3 cups with ice (already set up on the cart). Next row!
    US Airways just changed to a very nice 12 oz cup. Rubbery plastic (won’t crack and leak if squeezed or placed in seat pocket back like United’s cheap hard plastic cups). I think Southwest has same cup.
    Anyway, as you can see, we DO have some serious work to do to plan to serve meals and drinks to 581 passengers.
    7. Forget charging for baggage check. I saw on news today US Airways now raising bag check to $25 (online) or $35 (at the airport). Obviously, the bean counters see $$$, and have no clue what that will do to the already overstuffed overhead bins, boarding time, and deplane time. Overhead bins just do NOT replace the baggage compartments below! Everyone will want to carry on if you don’t make it cheap and easy to check it!
    With 581 passengers, we do NOT need everyone dragging a bag on the plane, trying to find overhead bin storage for it all. The more that check the better. True, no one wants to wait for baggage claim. True, we’ll lose a few bags and there will be complaints and claims and lawsuits. But, we’ll be sub-contracting baggage handling — hopefully we’ll be able to dump those problems on the contractor.
    OK… Got it?
    NO MORE ‘why don’t you use 7X7 instead of 747?’ We’re going to use the 747 no matter what you guys wanna say!
    No more: You can’t take off or land in XXX airport due to (short runway, heat, weight, etc). The 747 CAN handle every airport we plan to fly to, any weather, any day, with full passengers and some cargo.
    No more: ‘You can’t serve meals quick enough’ (you may be right!) — we’ve got to work with that.
    No more : ‘You can’t make any money on those fares’ We don’t plan to, at least not on every flight. The fares are subsidized by the other profit centers. Already explained, and debatable as to their viability. Good luck to us!
    Whats this about a “Across the Aisle” thing? Did Cranky interview our CEO? Where do I find that?

    Dan and BM ~

    I would like to buy you guys a beer…You have proven your point now.

    Dan – I would like to be on the flight deck when you land that plane in SAN.

  150. David SFeastbay says:

    Who would have thought this blog is still going strong after over a week and nearing 150 comments.

    Just checking fares, right now the lowest one way nonstop LAX-JFK on AA/UA/DL/B6/VX is $109 which with tax is just shy of $120, lower on 1-stop carrirs ($99+tax/surcharges). That is not much different in the sample fare Family listed on its website. Looking at September 1st that is 29 nonstops (35 if you count CO into EWR) with lot’s of time options. Could Family compete in the market against AA/UA/DL/CO with their large mileage loyalty?

    The largest aircraft is 767′s right now. It would be interesting to know how UA and AA compare with each other money wise since UA is all 757 and AA all 767-200 and both charge the same. AA/UA/DL/CO can all fly cargo/pax from over the water connections on their own airline and partner carriers so there is a ready market of humans and cargo to help cover the cost of operating all those flights. Don’t they all sell food in coach (I think CO doesn’t) and charge for checked bags which are both extra money also? Seems hard to believe Family could pay the bills. Even having cheap fares and cheap cargo prices doesn’t make the cargo or humans weigh less so there is still the need for fuel at today’s prices to the flight. Investors would see it that way also wouldn’t they?

  151. Todd says:

    David ~

    Dan has already pointed out that the 747 is the choice aircraft for FAI and that it’s more logical to fly that than other type of aircraft which he has made some good points. I still kind of disagree with the short haul flying with a 747. It really sounds like Dan and Barry have thought this one out. I am looking forward how to seeing if the DOT approves them.

  152. BM says:

    To everyone…….I’ve got lots of new stuff ahead for Family Airlines…..things the traditionals never dreamed of, but most of you will have to wait and see. P.S. FAI unlike thos other carriers, does not have to be desperate and charge for bags there are better ways of obtaining revenue. I predict for every five passengers you charge, you’ll lose at least one in the future.

  153. Dan says:

    @ Todd:
    Dan – I would like to be on the flight deck when you land that plane in SAN.

    Piece of cake! Slip down the hill, try not to hit any buildings on the way down, keep the speed on speed, use full flaps, touch down at the displaced threshold markings, and you’ll turn off well before the other end!

    I saw a DC-8 fly the old VOR approach or whatever it was using the old ‘drop-and-drag’ technique (now replaced by the ‘this-Vert Speed-oughta just make it’ method) that was really dragging the roof tops. It was surprising that the FAA minimums would allow flying so close to the roof tops all the way down that hill!
    But the runway is still long. 9400′ for takeoff and 7490′ landing just beyond the displaced threshold. Heck, if you can’t get stopped in 7490′ with a 747 down to landing reserves fuel, you’d better not fly that plane!
    Dan

  154. CF says:

    BM wrote:

    @ CF:
    Hi Brett,
    I neglected to say: I hate to type. Why don’t you call me at: 702 253-1520, or leave me a number and I’ll be glad to answer your questions.

    NBTA is over, so I’m finally getting caught up. I just tried to call but was told you’re gone for the day. Feel free to give me a call at 707 340 3737 at your convenience. (If the call comes in from you, it will be forwarded on – this isn’t my cell phone.)

  155. Dan says:

    As to landing at SAN, we’ll have to ask “CF” how it was to approach, while on his tummy, in the nose of that Albatross peeking thru the front port-hole last night!
    Did ya see his 3 minute video he posted of his flight, taxiing out and taking off out of San Diego last night? Very good!

    I’ve always thought Boeing SHOULD have installed plate-glass winshields smack in the front of the main deck, just like a cockpit, for the first class passengers to look FORWARD. Just relocate the radar antennas in the radome up or down to allow forward visibility for the passengers, instead of a blank wall / bulkhead or closet they usually place there. That would REALLY sell those front row seats!

    Likewise, I see nothing wrong with a foward facing camera, mounted either on the cockpit glare shield (not in the back of the cockpit!) or on the top of the tail, with live video to the cabin. I think one airline had a live video for a while, but it was in the cockpit, showing the backs of the pilot’ heads someone told me . NOt good. Hard to read your newspaper or do your revisions in flight if the passengers are watching over your shoulder!
    And… on most our over-water flights, we pull the golden mylar shades over the side windows and cover the front windows with maps and charts so the sun didn’t shine in on you. Hey.. its positive control out there, right? Not supposed to BE any other airplanes up there at FL370 unless they are already separated from you, right???? (Ask the guys in Brazil…)

  156. Todd says:

    Dan ~

    How do I apply for a managment job with you guys. I am starting to see your point.

  157. CF says:

    Todd wrote:

    Dan ~
    How do I apply for a managment job with you guys. I am starting to see your point.

    I’m fairly sure it’s an easy process. Just walk into the office and say, “Hey guys, I’m willing to work for free!”

  158. Dan says:

    Thats how you get hired! I was amazed how easy it was for me to get hired.. But the words ‘work for free’ go a long way around here!

    However, be aware those who will work for free AND have some airline experience will have preference!

    ============
    CF — Barry said he will call you tomorrow if you don’t reach him first. He’s off at the open house for the new Mini-Care office this evening.
    I’m off to California for meetings and work on a couple of my rental houses in Redwood City until Monday.
    =============
    Dan

  159. Troy Mason says:

    Hey BM and Dan ~

    Sounds like both of you guys are the mastermind in the Family Airlines. I am excited to getting off the ground, I hope the DOT approved your application soon.

    Here are a few questions:

    What are your intended turn times?
    Do you plan to heage fuel? (I know dumb question)
    How do you plan to deal with gate space in LAS?
    Have you guys proceeded with any SEC filings?
    What are your long term routes? Do you plan to fly to Eroupe or Asia?
    How does your business model compare to Ryan Air or Allegiant?
    Are you in fact going to use a -300 or a -400?
    How long after you are approved by the DOT and FAA will you start?
    Lastly, who are you investors and do you have any leads/contact to advertise.

  160. CF says:

    I just spoke with Barry for about 20 minutes on the phone. There’s no question he’s a dreamer, but ultimately there will continue to be a fundamental disagreement between us on his ability to fill seats. He remains firmly convinced that at $69, he’ll fill every single seat across the country a month out. I don’t see it. (I also don’t think he can get enough ancillary revenue, but that’s a side issue.)

    The only way to settle this is to actually get the thing flying. Anyone want to chip in some cash? ;)

  161. David SFeastbay says:

    @ CF:

    Find 500+ people with $69 and there is your first flight……lol

    Now over 160+ comments to this blog. It’s amazing it still has a following after over a week. Wonder what the buzz would be if the media picked this up.

  162. Axelsarki says:

    CF, when can we expect a fantastic-sounding across the aisle? I have to say, I am really interested in what BM has to say…

  163. CF says:

    Axelsarki wrote:

    CF, when can we expect a fantastic-sounding across the aisle? I have to say, I am really interested in what BM has to say…

    There really wasn’t much to add. He’s been working on this for 17 or 18 years, and he firmly believes it’s going to work. He’s been on the ad agency side before, and he thinks he won’t have any trouble selling it on the plane. He doesn’t have any firm commitments yet.

  164. BM says:

    @ CF:
    A slight correction…..17 years in total from the first Family Airlines to now. The first Family Airlines went out of business about a year after I left, which was in May of ’93, I incorporated this one in ’04. In between those years I studied and watched other airlines and actually incorporated Skybus & Shuttle America (obviously before anyone else dreamed of the names) but never moved ahead with either..

  165. BM says:

    @ Troy Mason: I live in Las Vegas but I’m not a gambler and therefor do not intend to heage fuel. There are no SEC filings at this time. We will be doing a REG D 506 for $220M, which I believe will eventually be filed with the SEC (I’m not an attorney but we have three involved in the offering document). Turn time was usually calculated from 2 – 3 hours, sometimes depending on the number of doors used. Sometime after we receive certification we will file for international authority. There are limited numbers of the 300 available and will definately be flying the 400 and hopefully someday the 400-8. Our business plan is totally different from that of Ryan Air or Allegiant, I believe it is like no other…..it is the “new generation” of airlines.

  166. Axelsarki says:

    @ BM:
    I don’t see how diffrent FAI is compared to FR. Except, maybe the use of a 743/4 and having a Friday’s in the sky. FR has ads all over, all coach, etc. FR uses 737′s, which are made for short-haul. A 743/4 IS NOT made for short haul. And it has four (4) engines. Their a/c are mostly in the air- you plan to be on the ground 2-3 hours. a/c make money in the air, not on the ground. Maybe you could pdf the document you use to get investors?

  167. Axelsarki says:

    Edit-Axelsarki wrote:

    Maybe you could pdf the document you use to get investors?

    And show it to us?

    Sorry, not proofreading.

  168. BM says:

    @ Axelsarki:Sorry, by law each document has to be accounted for…..we don’t just send them out without know if the investor is a qualified one. The financial model does not get sent out, but would be available for viewing in our office. Our aircraft are scheduled between 11 – 13 of actual flight time.

  169. Bosco says:

    So, if I am reading this right, they intend on using a B747 for flying short haul routes like LAS to LAX/SAN/SFO? I have studied the airlines for a few years and each of its business models for a few years as a consultant in the airlines. FAI sounds like a “dream” airline but has a lot of pros. Logically it sounds like a great idea, it’s almost like a Ryan Air and Allegiant combined but with out the fees. Now, economically, It sounds like another National Airlines – Conway was a dream and believed that his business plan would work which did for a few years then folded a year after 9-11 and before the economic down turn but mostly due to the loss of financial backing from Harrah’s and Hard Rock which was starting to lose money in the airline and slashed it backing. Another disaster LCC was the old Atlantic Coast Jet that had been flying under the “Delta Connection” banner before it decide to do “At Risk Flying” and becoming Independence Air which was offering low cost fare as well. Air Indy had the idea that could do the at risk flying with the current economy with out the backing of Delta which give its connection carriers financial backing. Western Pacific did the similar thing with the advertising just like FAI is planning on incorporating. There have been many airlines that have come and gone in the last 5-10 years with many more that were just idea or on paper.

    Is this a good time to start a LCC? Maybe not right now but with the good business model and the right aircraft it might work. Do I think the 747 is a ideal choice for FAI – sure, if you plan on doing long haul flying but I think with 2-3 hour turn times would be a waste of revenue, yes I know it’s hard to turn a 747 in 45 minutes, especially full of passengers and cargo. Most airline today have on average 45 min ground time, I know it won’t happen with a 747 but maybe downgrading to a 757 would be more of a profit if you keep it flying with the right schedule, if you are concerned with cargo revenue, then a 767 would be ideal .The good thing with a 757 is if you planed on buying or operating 767-200/300s the transition for pilots is easy but as it sounds FAI is clearly going to go with a 747. I like the idea of flying LAS to JFK or MIA with a 747 but I think short haul is not such a great idea – The business plan is great but the 747 maybe the wrong kind of aircraft.

  170. Dan says:

    Bosco:
    (Haven’t heard of “Bosco” since I was a kid in the 1950′s Bosco was chocolate stuff you put in your milk to make chocolate milk. Anyone else remember that?)

    747s or nothing for Family Airlines. That’s what makes the plan work. No mixed fleet (training costs, maintenance cost go way up — look at Southwest with a ‘single type’ fleet! There’s a good reason!).
    And I’m told that Boeing has told us the 747 is still the best aircraft on ANY segment length for cost-per-SEAT-mile if you pack in the SEATS!

    And we intend to do just that. Something like 539 all-coach seats on the main deck, nose-to-tail, and 42 ‘office class’ seats (as we call them) on the upper deck. = 581 total seats.

    As I’ve explained over and over, any smaller airplane will mean we’d have to operate multiple flights to do the same job, and that runs up the fixed costs of landing fees, gate fees, turnaound costs, staffing gates, ground crews, baggage handlers, etc.

    Its my understanding that bag handlers, for example (we plan on sub-contracting all baggage handling) only have to take the bags to one gate, and load them all on one plane — thats cheaper than sorting and loading 5 planes with the same number of bags. I could be wrong, but that’s how I understand it.

    Multiply this saving by all the other savings — refuel one plane, park one plane, push back one plane, run jetways to one plane, use only one gate area (extra large, please!), hire only one set of gate agents, well…. you get the idea.

    (Yes, I realize fuel is sold by the gallon and they probably don’t care if they put it in one plane or 5 planes. But it takes 5 trucks and operators if they have to do it at the same time, so there’s got to be some saving in sending one truck to one plane instead of 5.)

    Troy Mason asks how we plan to handle gate space at Las Vegas.

    Have you been there lately? They are building us a brand new concourse/terminal, right where Russell Road used to be, on the North side of the present ‘D’ concourse. It is designed for international arrivals which means large planes (747, maybe A380?). It will have dual jetways to the planes.
    We surprised them when we asked if we could park there for domestic flights. As most international terminals, the interior will be set up for arriving passengers to be funneled down thru immigration and customs, and departing passengers allowed to board directly from the gate area.

    For a domestic flight, you have to be able to allow the arriving passengers to enter the gate area and co-mingle with departing passengers (they might want to connect to another flight) and they don’t need to go thru customs. That was a surprise to the LAS ops people who had not considered that in their planning. But they said they could make that work for us. I suspect Family Airlines will be operating at least two gates at that new terminal when we reach the size to start serving all those cities from Las Vegas.

    Dan

  171. David SFeastbay says:

    wow now over 170 comments.

    Doesn’t the DOT (or someone) say airlines have to have so much money in reserve at all times? That would mean having to have X millions of dollars in reserve plus have many X millions of dollars to buy the planes and everything else needed. Unless they plan on hitting the crap tables and breaking the bank at every Vegas casino FAI will be just a dream forever. But isn’t that one of the best things we humans have, is our dreams which keep us going?

  172. Dan says:

    David:
    Not sure about ‘at all times’…. how would they ensure or control that? I’m not sure the major airlines have big reserves every day — some days yes, but some days, they are probably desparate for cash. Of course, they DO have a cash flow as long as they are operating, selling tickets and have advance (paid) reservations… something a start-up airline doesn’t have.

    But the DOT DOES require a working capital (or reasonable and viable plan for it) of enough money to operate 3 months without ANY ticket sales income prior to start.

    It would seem logical to take the business plan operating costs for the first three months as that basis. In some cases, airlines start out slow with just a few planes and won’t need too much to operate until the income starts flowing in and they expand. (That would be Family Airlines).
    But no! The DOT takes the entire FIRST YEAR operating expenses, including later-on growth and additional costs, and divides that number by 4 to determine necessary start-up capital!

    And, they want to see that (or the plan for it) BEFORE they will issue the needed certificate of economic viability or whatever they call it.

    And we don’t see that is a requirement for both reserves AND money to buy planes — thats what we use it for. We just have to have it BEFORE they issue the certificate. After that, go spend it, buy your planes, hire your employees, contract your services, and go fly!

    In our case, that revised formula means we need to sell more stock in our PPM before start up. Therefore, the new PPM should raise something like $225 million to satisfy the DOT requirements. I’m pretty sure that is explained in the last two communications to/from the DOT on their web site.
    We’re covered. No craps tables or casinos required.

  173. Sherm says:

    @ Dan:
    Very well said Dan. Once FAI gets off the ground you will see alot of people out there eating their words.

  174. Todd says:

    Dan ~

    Are you guys going to free load all the bags or load them with LD2/3s? It would seem to be logical to use LD2/3s since most belt loaders dont reach that high and could be a liablity.

  175. Dan says:

    Todd:
    LD3 containers make a lot of sense for faster loading and unloading of the plane, allowing a quicker turn. But they slow things down when it comes to baggage delivery at the baggage claim.

    Every airport is different, and I’m sure you’ve experienced some airports and airlines with almost immediate bag delivery to the carosel, and others with 30 to 40 minute waits!
    El Paso is almost ‘instant’ — bag there by the time you get down there. And yet, Las Vegas can be a 40 minute wait, because the bags have to be unloaded and brought over to the terminal building about a half mile away, across Paradise Road. (From Concourse D).
    There is no rhyme or reason it seems.

    LD3 containers would also mean we’d have to keep a supply of them at all our stations.
    Another drawback to containers — if someone checks a bag and fails to board, do you yank the container, dig for his bag, and remove it? You must do this for international flights, but I don’t think they require it for domestic flights just yet. You’d hope with more efficient baggage x-ray this would not be a big requirement.

    Bottom line: This is way beyond our thoughts at this moment. And, we’ll probably listen to our baggage handler contractors to which they think is best, what they like to do, what they think will be most expedient, and what method they tell us is cheapest (You knew that was coming!). I.e., we’re probably going to leave that decision to the baggage handler contractor.

  176. HTJ says:

    When is this outfit going to fly? I hear the hype but it seems like alot of talk to me.

  177. Dan says:

    HTJ:

    A lot of talk, for sure! You and I both wish we’d see something roll down a runway and take to the air!

    But…that’s not going to happen until we find some qualified investors will to invest about $225 million in this airline to get it flying. Care to invest?

    Lacking the funding at the moment, we’ve gone about as far as we can go.

    At the moment, we have a very qualified team of lawyers and accounts and SEC advisors working on a private stock offering plan that should be very enticing to prospective investors.

    So the answer to the question of “WHEN” is AFTER we get the funding, we’ll hire the employees to staff the essential functions and departments, set up operations, crew scheduling, dispatch, customer service, reservations, bag handling, and then buy some airplanes so we can fly some proving runs for the FAA and finish the work on our Part 121 certificate.

    THEN you’ll see us fly!

    Dan

  178. Bosco says:

    Dan ~

    How many people want to invest in something like an airline right now? It seems that this really isn’t the right time to have a start up carrier. Look at airlines like Vanguard, AC jet, Jet America and Skybus who all went under due to the economy and funding. I like the business plan but it seems like the timing is wrong.

  179. David SFeastbay says:

    This is more like a virtual airline then the people who start a website with a ‘virtual’ airline.

    Like was said way back in one of the 170+ comments (and I’m not going to look for it) they should get the web host to delete that old web page or at least give them access to it so it can be updated. Hmmm…..maybe it is a virtual airline and all this has been a big joke on everyone??????????

  180. Dan says:

    Bosco:
    How many want to invest in an airline right now? I don’t know, but I guess we’ll find out!
    Investing in traditional airlines is always skeptical… and risky. But what if someone came up with an idea that works? One that departs from the traditional path of squeaking out an existence with high priced (new) airplanes, very high ASM costs, and no way to make a dime other than charging high fares? I wouldn’t invest in something like that. As you point out, so many airlines like that have come and gone.

    CEO Michaels and I are meeting today with the Nevada Development Authority, to see if they are interested in promoting an airline in our state, and if they can steer us toward investors wishing to see business in Nevada prosper. Tomorrow we meet with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau, hoping they can steer us some local support and advertisers, Maybe a casino or two?

    David: Yes, I agree our web site is archaic and needs some serious work. I wish I had some way of doing that. Not my department. But then, that department of the airline is very highly paid, at least triple my salary, and you’d think they’d jump right in and do something about it!
    (For the record, my salary is ZERO. Multiply that by 3 and you’ll see what the IT folks make at Family Airlines! And that’s probably why none of them come to work anymore.)

    Dan

  181. Axelsarki says:

    @ Dan:

    Dan: Do you guys even have a goal for opening? Or is it all based on “when we get investors”? Is there anyone that is crazy enough that has expressed interest?

    @ CF: are we going to see a special “across the aisle” with Barry?

  182. HTJ says:

    Dan/BM

    How did your meetings go?

  183. CF says:

    Axelsarki wrote:

    @ CF: are we going to see a special “across the aisle” with Barry?

    Probably not. I’m not giving them any more press until they have money.

  184. Dan says:

    Dang! So no more press until we get some money? Well… we DO have some money — or at least we did when we applied to the DOT a couple of years ago. We had $30 in the checking account on that day! I think we’ve spent that, however.

    The meetings with the Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Nevada Development authority were, uhh… interesting and informative to some extent.
    This city is ripe for exploitation by tourist industry — plenty of hotel rooms being built, at least 3 or 4 major new hotel/resorts under construction — and they NEED an airline to bring millions of passengers in per year — That’s us.
    But, those two offices did not see how they could assist one airline without showing favoritism. They each had some incentives, once we get flying. Naturally, neither had any investors up their sleeves nor money of their own to help start an airline.

    It will be a task for our marketing department to get out there and find investors and hotel/casino partners who want to share in the success and prosperity we can bring to Las Vegas, or any other city we serve, by bringing them passengers (and freight) and an opportunity to advertise what your city has to offer to those customers while they are in-flight enroue to your city.

    Axelsarki asks if we have a goal for opening: YES. Tomorrow.
    But, lacking an airplane and money to buy it, that’s not going to happen. So… The day after tomorrow. If that won’t work, then the day after that.

    And yes, it all is based on ‘when we get investors’.

    Dan

  185. Axelsarki says:

    CF, is this the longest comments for any post?

  186. CF says:

    Axelsarki wrote:

    CF, is this the longest comments for any post?

    It’s #2, but it’s still 114 short of #1 – the Six Word Summary contest
    http://crankyflier.com/2008/08/05/win-ipod-nano-six-word-summary-on-the-tsa-liquid-ban/

  187. Axelsarki says:

    @ CF:
    Yea, well, that was a promotion… So this is # 1 in terms of a “normal” post.

  188. David SFeastbay says:

    @ Axelsarki:

    Axelsarki now you made me have to come here to see how many posts there was……lol.

    Mine will be 188.

  189. Dan Eikleberry says:

    OK… and this makes 189.

    Do I hear 190???

    Going, going……. (not yet gone!).

    PS. Family Airlines is now finished with our PPM. Its ready to send out to prospective investors.
    Private Placement Memorandum = a form of prospectus, but not for the public — only for our best friends with lots of $$ in their pocket that have some association with Family Airlines. SEC rules tell us we cannot advertise to just anyone. I don’t know how that works, I’m not the financial end of this business. I’m at the ‘pointy end’ as we say in the jet flying business.

    So, if any of you want to invest, all you have to do is call Barry Michaels and you, too, can become an instant friend of Family Airlines. Try (702) 253-1520. I think that number still works for the office.

  190. Dave Rice says:

    Are 747-400 still the plan or did you rethink that to a down grade like a 777 or 767-400

  191. Dan says:

    Dave Rice asks: <<>>

    The answer is: No! Not now, not ever… well… unless they drop the price of a used 777 down to around $10 million.

    The 747 airframe is what makes our plan work. The 747-300 has the big-top (more passenger seats!), and it can carry the freight loads, too, but the 747-400 is the ultimate solution — much more efficient engines, no need for a flight engineer, modern avionics. But it cost more.

    The 777 and the 767 are just too small, and they don’t carry the cargo that a 747 can carry.

  192. Axelsarki says:

    Well, Dan, I think those NW 742′s are going cheap… But I don’t think $30 will cut it, maybe a little bit more…

  193. Bosco says:

    How about a facebook page?

  194. yeah,he 747 airframe is what makes our plan work. The 747-300 has the big-top (more passenger seats!), and it can carry the freight loads, too, but the 747-400 is the ultimate solution — much more efficient engines, no need for a flight engineer, modern avionics. But it cost more.

  195. Cargoman from the Sand says:

    Question for Dan/BM,

    I am a long time veteran of the cargo industry, over 25years in sales marketing and operations management, and have dealt
    with the cargo markets in LA, HNL, JFK and MIA and currently live in Las Vegas.
    All of your literature states you can carry 100,000LBS of cargo in addition to
    your full pax load. This is very wrong. You can carry either your full pax load or the cargo. The B747 has positions for 9 LD-7/Pallets +2 LD-3s space or
    30LD-3s of space on the lower deck. You can only put more than 10,000LBs
    of cargo in one position, so you would need the entire belly for cargo.
    Bags for 581 pax would require approx 24LD-3 positions, based on the standard of 25passengers per container. This leaves only 6LD-3 positions, or 2 LD-7 pallets for cargo. Your maximum weight/space available is only
    going to be a max of 22,000LBS. Has this been taken into account in any
    of your scenarios? I would love to talk cargo with you if you are interested.

  196. Dan says:

    Cargoman:
    You provide some interesting information. I’m not familiar with the containers nor how much they hold. We only work in weights. How they are packed is a job for someone like you. I’ve seen the containers as they are loaded into the plane (and hate it when someone wants to get OFF the plane 5 minutes before push-back, and now we’ve got to find the container with their baggage, remove all the others to get to it, then remove their baggage and replace it all, before we can push back! International flights,if the passenger doesn’t fly, the bag doesn’t go, either. The rules were made back when it was assumed it was safe to carry a bag if the passenger who owned it was on board — after all, who would want to blow up a plane while they are still inside? Hah!)

    Anyway, as for weights, we are told by Boeing that the normal ZFW limits will be modified for Family Airlines if we promise NOT to carry center tank fuel (and we will not because we’re not flying very far at all!). Instead, we can carry the freight instead of the fuel. Boeing has told the CEO in discussions that the 747 can be certified (if not already) to carry the full load of passengers and their bags, AND up to 100,000 pounds of cargo if we don’t carry the center tank fuel.

    The actual practicality and process of doing that has yet to be worked out.

    Normally, one would burn the center tank fuel to get down to max landing weight, and decrease wing-bending-moment. If you continue to carry that weight as cargo until landing, I’m thinking there could be a maximum landing weight problem (due to wing-bending-moment), and of course, you can’t dump cargo as you can dump fuel for an emergency shortly after takeoff!

    And dumping the wing fuel while retaining the fuselage cargo is even worse for the poor wing spar bending moment!

    Its always best to keep the balance of weight out in the wings, with a light weight fuselage. They design the wing spar as light as they can and depend on the weight being distributed from wing-tip to wing-tip, not all concentrated in the fuselage.

    So, there are problems, and I will have to see them all worked out (and you know the FAA will, as well) before we commit to flying the plane with loads like that.

    You bring another facet of this operation to light — that of fitting it all into LD containers. I’ve never loaded a container, but I’m of the strong opinion that you can fit far more than 25 bags into one of them! Or maybe I’m mis-reading your posting above.
    Clearly we need a (volunteer) person like you on our staff to sort these things out. Wanna come to work for us? We’re in Las Vegas, too.
    Give the CEO, Barry Michaels a phone call at the number on the web site. I think it still works.

    Dan

  197. Cargoman from the Sand says:

    Dan wrote:

    Cargoman:
    You provide some interesting information. I’m not familiar with the containers nor how much they hold. We only work in weights. How they are packed is a job for someone like you. I’ve seen the containers as they are loaded into the plane (and hate it when someone wants to get OFF the plane 5 minutes before push-back, and now we’ve got to find the container with their baggage, remove all the others to get to it, then remove their baggage and replace it all, before we can push back! International flights,if the passenger doesn’t fly, the bag doesn’t go, either. The rules were made back when it was assumed it was safe to carry a bag if the passenger who owned it was on board — after all, who would want to blow up a plane while they are still inside? Hah!)
    Anyway, as for weights, we are told by Boeing that the normal ZFW limits will be modified for Family Airlines if we promise NOT to carry center tank fuel (and we will not because we’re not flying very far at all!). Instead, we can carry the freight instead of the fuel. Boeing has told the CEO in discussions that the 747 can be certified (if not already) to carry the full load of passengers and their bags, AND up to 100,000 pounds of cargo if we don’t carry the center tank fuel.
    The actual practicality and process of doing that has yet to be worked out.
    Normally, one would burn the center tank fuel to get down to max landing weight, and decrease wing-bending-moment. If you continue to carry that weight as cargo until landing, I’m thinking there could be a maximum landing weight problem (due to wing-bending-moment), and of course, you can’t dump cargo as you can dump fuel for an emergency shortly after takeoff!
    And dumping the wing fuel while retaining the fuselage cargo is even worse for the poor wing spar bending moment!
    Its always best to keep the balance of weight out in the wings, with a light weight fuselage. They design the wing spar as light as they can and depend on the weight being distributed from wing-tip to wing-tip, not all concentrated in the fuselage.
    So, there are problems, and I will have to see them all worked out (and you know the FAA will, as well) before we commit to flying the plane with loads like that.
    You bring another facet of this operation to light — that of fitting it all into LD containers. I’ve never loaded a container, but I’m of the strong opinion that you can fit far more than 25 bags into one of them! Or maybe I’m mis-reading your posting above.
    Clearly we need a (volunteer) person like you on our staff to sort these things out. Wanna come to work for us? We’re in Las Vegas, too.
    Give the CEO, Barry Michaels a phone call at the number on the web site. I think it still works.
    Dan

    Dan,

    No, its the baggage of 25 passengers per LD-3 container, not 25 bags.
    Boeing may say its ok for the weight and passengers to be uplifted,
    I’m just saying, space wise, it can not be done for the reasons I mentioned.
    I might take you up on that. Would love to have some input from a Cargo
    point of view.

    Cargoman

  198. Sgt. Hondo says:

    So, if I remember correctly, bags weights are 30lbs x 25bags = 750lbs per LD3. So you figure 1.5 bags per passenger x 500 passengers = 750 bags x 30 = 22500lbs.

    I have fit 30-40 bags in a LD3 before and I have been able to get 25 bags in a LD2 but I am not sure if the b744 can carry LD2s.

    Hey Dan – When was the new DOT paper work filed?

  199. Dan says:

    Sgt. Hondo asks: “When was the new DOT paper work filed?”
    To which Dan replies: “Huh?”

    I had no idea any new DOT paper work had been filed! What does it say? Did they approve us? Are we ready to go fly?

    Well.. first, its going to take some $$$! Please send any donations to our offices in Las Vegas. Our bank account awaits your earliest deposit!

    Dan

  200. Frank Rizzo Jr, says:

    Dan ~

    From what I read, the DOT pretty much laughed in your guys face and told you to pretty much “No” in a polite way. I mean come on, I think it said that your cash on hand was around $30?!?!..Am I missing something here? I thought this was a joke when someone was telling me about this and your airlines website pretty much proves it is a joke.

    Using a 747-300…come on now. Start out with a 737-800 or A320 and work your way up, you can pick them up cheap.

  201. David SFeastbay says:

    Frank Rizzo Jr, wrote:

    Start out with a 737-800 or A320 and work your way up, you can pick them up cheap.

    With those type planes then they would be just like everyone else. How many times now a days do people get to travel on a domestic 747?

    After 200+ comments FAI is still grabbing attention hear at least. :-)

  202. Jack Tors says:

    I don’t want to travel on a 747 on domestic flights..

  203. David SFeastbay says:

    Jack Tors wrote:

    I don’t want to travel on a 747 on domestic flights..

    Just wondering why not? Flying transcon or west coast to Hawaii in a 747 or other widebody is much nicer then a narrow body for all those hours. It’s nice to be able to get up and walk around and not feel like the cabin is getting smaller as the hours pass like when on a narrow body.

  204. ttjoseph says:

    David SFeastbay wrote:

    Jack Tors wrote:
    I don’t want to travel on a 747 on domestic flights..
    Just wondering why not? Flying transcon or west coast to Hawaii in a 747 or other widebody is much nicer then a narrow body for all those hours. It’s nice to be able to get up and walk around and not feel like the cabin is getting smaller as the hours pass like when on a narrow body.

    Yeah, but on a narrowbody you’re more likely to be near an aisle or window. I’d hate to be in the center with 3-5-3 seating…

  205. Jack Tors says:

    David SFeastbay wrote:

    Jack Tors wrote:
    I don’t want to travel on a 747 on domestic flights..
    Just wondering why not? Flying transcon or west coast to Hawaii in a 747 or other widebody is much nicer then a narrow body for all those hours. It’s nice to be able to get up and walk around and not feel like the cabin is getting smaller as the hours pass like when on a narrow body.

    Let me rephrase that – I don’t want to be on a 747 for a flight that is going to last 2-3 hours, especially how FAI planes to have 500 bodies on the flight. I have to agree with Frank, I think FAI is a joke not just to me but to the DOT. Maybe by the time FAI dose get approved or should I say If they do, Allegiant will have gotten more bigger planes.

  206. David SFeastbay says:

    Jack Tors wrote:

    I don’t want to be on a 747 for a flight that is going to last 2-3 hours, especially how FAI planes to have 500 bodies on the flight.

    That’s how I kind of feel about those mega cruise ships, I don’t want to go on vacation with 5000 other people.

    You post reminded me with UA had Shuttle by United and they flew shuttle flights every hour and sometimes every half hour between SFO and LAX. On ‘problem’ days (and they had many) you could see their afternoon 737 fllights mostly canceled and 747′s used as replacement aircraft. They would cancel 3 flights in a row and put everyone on one 747. If must have taken longer to board all those people then it took the plane to fly the route.

  207. Dan says:

    For Frank Rizzo, Jr. (That name sounds familiar. Are you a United pilot?)

    $30 in the bank. Yep. True story. They asked. We reported. We had just opened the bank account when we first applied to the DOT. We had no investors, no seed capital. Just starting. So, we told the truth. Its ALL been VOLUNTEER WORK thus far! Just a bunch of dreamers and volunteer workers who have spent thousands of hours for no pay, working on plans, manuals, dealing with airports and suppliers and pilot & flight attendant training simulators and classrooms. No one receives pay, we haven’t bought any airplanes yet, so… no money in the bank!

    As for smaller airplanes… you really need to read our concept of business on our (admittedly very sloppy and out of date web site) to understand the whole thing is based on keeping aircrew cost low while carrying the maximum number of passengers — the 747 does just that. AND… it carries lots of cargo (as soon as “Cargoman from the Sand” comes to work to teach us how to cram it into cargo containers!).

    The smaller airplanes would just destroy our entire plan, and cost us a LOT more in maintenance, landing fees, gate fees, aircrew salaires, etc. Its called ‘economy of scale’, I think.

    But as for riding on a 747, especially with 580 other passengers, yes it will take a long time to load. But there will be a greater ratio of window/aisle seats, if thats what you prefer — think about it, only 3 ‘middle seats’ in each row of nine (2-5-2). And the real kicker is — for the price of a ticket (did ya see our list?) there are 581 passengers willing to ‘put up with riding in a 747′ any day, at almost any hour of that day, to get from LAS to JFK or HNL! We’re counting on it.
    No, I don’t advise my best friends that it will be an enjoyable ride sharing with that many others, but.. a 747 IS a pretty comfy airplane to ride on ! Even if it takes a few extra minutes to load and unload.
    And we intend to make it more enjoyable with all the onboard amenities, movies, games, refreshments, and any other entertainment we can think of. Maybe we should have dancing flight attendants in the aisles? Singing pilots on the PA?

    No SMALL planes for us! Don’t suggest it again! It WON’T happen!

    Besides, a used 747 is pretty darn cheap, relative to new planes of any size. Did ya know that? $5 to $10 million per 747. (Yes, I know the 747-400 costs much more — we’ll buy those when the first set of planes runs out, but we’ll be rich by then, right?)

    Dan

  208. Cargoman from the Sand says:

    I’m wondering if the recent bankruptcy of JAL and their returning 34 B744
    aircraft will have a factor in Family’s business plan now. There are now alot of quality aircraft available, and what I would assume to be very reasonable prices. Any updates Dan???

  209. CF says:

    Ok kids, who needs some hilarity in their day today? Family Airlines has applied to change its name to Avatar Airlines. Seriously.
    http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#documentDetail?R=0900006480ad255b

    Care to explain that one, Dan? Is it because, like an avatar, the airline isn’t real?

    • I think they did it in order to keep building comments on this blog, which would be 214..215……lol

      Just kidding. But I would rethink the name and not because of the movie. According to Wikipedia Avatar means…..

      In Hinduism, Avatar or Avat?ra (Devanagari ?????, Sanskrit for “descent” [viz., from heaven to earth]) refers to a deliberate descent of a deity from heaven to earth, and is mostly translated into English as “incarnation”, but more accurately as “appearance” or “manifestation”

      A deliberate descent to earth doesn’t ring in my ears as “Oh boy we’re landing”, sounds more like we are hurling down from heaven to appear or manifest on earth as zombies.

  210. Dan says:

    Very observant! I think Barry did that about 3 or 4 weeks ago.
    Believe me, Avatar would NOT have been my first choice for a name for this airline. But… Family Airlnes was just not acceptable to many people thinking about a Las Vegas based airline! (Leave your kids at home! Don’t bring them to Vegas! Seems to be the plea today.)

    But… apparently we do have a potential investor who isisted and came up with the name Avatar. Its a real word, and does NOT necesarily have any connection with the movie which used that word for its title. Nonetheless, we would expect many will try to make some kind of mental connection — for which there absolutely is none.
    At the request of the potential investor, Barry changed the name officially with the State of Nevada where we are incorporated.

    Dan

  211. Dan says:

    The above may not be clear: Avatar DOES have a connection with the movie –but the movie does NOT have any connection with the airline! We will NOT have blue faced, pointy eared pilots nor flight attendants!

    That’s what I meant to say!

    Dan

  212. ttjoseph says:

    Dan, regardless of the lack of connection, I hope this potential investor is willing to pay to defend against the inevitable lawsuit…

  213. Axelsarki says:

    CF, you’re quick! I came to report the Avatar Airlines news, and what do I know, it’s already here. I suspect some kind of lawsuit.

    • Dan says:

      I wouldn’t worry about a lawsuit. The word avatar is in common use. There is no other airline with that name. It is not copyrighted nor trademarked. One could not sue for its use any more than they could sue for using the word “the” or “happy” or “flight” or “photograph”. They’re all common words in the English language, found in any good dictionary. I.e., you could call your airline “Photograph Airlines” and no one could complain. Same goes for “Avatar Airlines”.

      Now.. if we colored our faces blue and gave our pilots pointy ears, and lost a lot of weight (?) and put posters on the airplane of Pandora or whever that movie took place…. then they MIGHT think we are trying to capitalize off the movie! But we’ll do nothing like that!

      See you in court!, as they say!

      Dan

      • ttjoseph says:

        I’m no lawyer, but just because the potential plaintiff’s potential case doesn’t have real merit doesn’t mean they can’t find some excuse to file suit. With an operating budget of $30 (has that changed?) this would be a problem. On the other hand, you might need to actually be doing business under the name to attract the wolves, so…

      • Axelsarki says:

        Well, Dan, In wake of the HUGE success that Avatar has been, It does not seem like a coincidence that you guys are re-naming Family to Avatar. It leads me to believe that you want to capitalize off the movies succes.

  214. Dan says:

    $30 in our bank account… Well… we did go out for drinks with a potential investor a couple of weeks ago. Oh wait… he paid for the drinks! $30 intact!

    No, I take that back. We paid something like $300+ to file the name change with the Secretary of the State of Nevada. I guess that means we are now in debt by about $270. Darn. Please Mr. Obama, can we have a US Govt bailout? We could use about $200 million, please!

    We could change the name again if you wish, to something like Pelosi-Reid Airlines?

    Dan

  215. Dan says:

    As I hit the ‘leave comment’ button, it occured to me that a better name for our airline, should we get a nice big fat check from a government bailout, would be Pelosi-Reid-Obama Airlines. PRO Airlines!

    Barry Michaels could get that passed thru Congress just as soon as he gets elected. Barry is running for Congress again this year. http://www.michaelsforcongress.com/

  216. Dan says:

    I’ve got a photo of the new Avatar Airlines Boeing 747-300 and another of the new AVA logo.
    Is there a method to post them on this web site?
    Our own website, http://www.familyairlines.com, is not in my control, has not been updated in several years, and I have no way of posting anything there.
    Does anyone have a convenient web page that would allow me to post them there and then provide the link here?
    Dan

  217. Axelsarki says:

    Looks old-ish, maybe it’s just the pic. It reminds me of some kind of old charter carrier.

    • Dan says:

      That photo, (#7 on the facebook thing) is the wrong plane. That photo was an early attempt to place the Avatar name on a 747 — and the artist grabbed the WRONG 747! That one is a -100 or a -200 at best. Small top.

      The better photo is the one with the trees in the background, big top, 747-300.

      I had no idea we (Avatar) even HAD a Facebook page! I have no idea how to post better photos there, nor comment. I think I’m a member of facebook, thanks to some overzealous family friends, and vaguely recall being prodded to post a couple of photos or something, but have no clue how to find it again nor post anything on facebook.

      Dan

  218. Dan says:

    I hope this works.. this is our best ‘artist depiction’ of what the future Avatar Airlines 747-300 is supposed to look like:
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=274169&id=110443372300584

    Dan

  219. Looking for a flying job says:

    Hi Dan ~
    I see you are the chief pilot for Family Airlines aka Avatar Airlines. I was wondering what the time requirements are for the company? I am a out of work regional pilot for Pinnacle. I have 1,900tt but I am not type rated on the B747, only the CRJ200/900. I see there is a $50 application fee, would I get that back if I was hired? What will the hourly rate be for FO/Captains? I love the business model of Family Airlines and sounds like a great idea and company! Let me know!

    Gary Dellabate

    • Dan says:

      Gary:
      Pilot time requirements — we don’t have anything set as a minimum — like all airlines, we plan to hire the best qualified. But that means 747 type rated or at least 747 experience to start with until we run out of those. And, to tell the truth, we have a file cabinet full of applications with that kind of experience who would love to fly for a domestic 747 airline based in Las Vegas!
      The $50 fee, I never approved of it. Why pay that to apply to an airline that has no airplanes, no Part 121 certificate, and has never flown a flight yet?
      I’d hold off if I were you.
      Hourly rates have not been established. We have some basic concepts of salary. We plan to be a non-union airline, (I’m an ALPA member for over 30 years now, so I am very familiar with pilot unions.) and are strongly of the opinion that ‘if an airline (or any other business) management treats its employees fairly, takes excellent care of them, and meets or beats the pay and benefits they’d get elsewhere, and listens to them when they have complaints, problems, or a ‘better way to do it’, then a union will probably never set foot on the property. Why pay union dues when the company takes good care of you in the first place?
      My point: The pay and benefits at Avatar Airlines are going to be such that you won’t leave to go elsewhere unless you really hate Las Vegas or flying the 747!
      Hey… its a ‘dream’ according to Ray in the next comment, so why not dream big!

      BTW, I’m the Vice President of Flight Operations, a management job that, in my case, also happens to be a pilot (I’ve got 20,000+ flight hours, and flew the 747-400 as Captain for many years at United Airlines). We DO have a Chief Pilot also, that being Captain Tommy Thompson, an extremely qualified and experienced 747 Captain, also a Las Vegas resident, now flying for Yangtze River Express airline out of Shanghai, China.

      • TJINC says:

        Dan, the real reason any non-union airline treats its employees “fairly”, AKA (pays them just above wages negotiated by unions for other airlines), is to keep the unions out. No altruistic motive there, just a ploy to keep the employees from risking organization efforts. I was with the airlines before most were unionized. Things weren’t so warm and fuzzy then. What incentive did airlines have to “do the right thing”? Since you’re former ALPA member, with your union standing up for you during your employment with….? Don’t you feel the least bit hypocritical?

  220. So, is this Family Airlines aka Avatar Airlines for real or is it a bunch of computer geeks who play MS Flight Simulator and have these virtual airlines? From what I have read here and the DOT filings, this whole thing sounds like a dream. Do you really expect to be able to fly a B747 to SAN and charge $19 dollars a person? I may not have majored in economics, but I don’t see this working. I did see a new start up airline (more of a air taxi service) out of the Henderson Airport today flying to North Las Vegas, Boulder City and Mesqutie using a Cessna 182 Turbo.

    • Dan says:

      Ray:
      You can start at the very beginning of these comments last year, and read them all (they used to be numbered… numbers now gone, but I think we’re over 200+ comments by now) and learn far more about this airline than most people know who work here!
      Yes, its for real. No, we don’t fly … yet. Yes, we are working on it. We have a staff of people, but due to the delays and need to have an income, many of our staff are ‘on call’ for now, or they depart for other jobs because they can’t wait.
      The delays, as explained many times above, are due to one factor: NO MONEY. No investors, no stock sales, no loans, not even a nice ‘stimulus’ check!

      It does sound like a dream, and I guess you could call it that until it really takes off some day. Its the dream of Barry Michaels, the company’s founder and CEO.

      Do we really expect to flya B747 to SAN for $19? Yes, we do. The fares will not cover our costs, they will be subsidized (fortunately for our passengers!) by other sources of income — advertising all over the airplane being a major source, along with cargo sales, in flight amenitites and entertainment being some of them. Further, with 581 passengers on every flight (at our fares, we just cannot imagine very many empty seats on any route we will fly!), those $19 and $29 and $69 and $89 fares will add up quickly, nonetheless.

      A new airline at KHND? Flying a Cessna 182 all the way to North Vegas! Wow… I fly that in my RV-6 quite often — but I can drive it via I-15 and Rancho Road just about as quickly. What we need is an airline to fly to Laughlin and maybe another to fly to Baker, Barstow, and Victorville so you don’t have to drive the desert! Oh yeah… the tourists need an airline like that to fly to Pahrump, NV for … well… you know what! (They had a runway right there at Sheri’s Chicken Ranch or whatever its called, many years ago!)

      Dan

  221. So why the name change? Can I see this airline start around 2015 or later after Barry is out of office if he makes it?

    • Dan says:

      Good question! If Barry gets elected to Congress, I’m guessing he will dump the airline into someone else’s lap to “Party-on, Garth!”.
      The name change, as explained in several messages ago, (but not too long ago, look no further back than March or April of 2010), is due to the request of a potential investor who came up with the idea.
      I was hoping he’d slip us a hundred G’s to encourage us to make that change, but… he didn’t.

      Dan

  222. Spider W. says:

    Dan ~

    Do you fly into HND often with your RV6? How long did it take you to build? I am learning how to fly out of HND. I started out in VGT. Do you recommended Sporty’s or King Videos?

    • Dan says:

      Spider: My RV-6 LIVES at KHND airport in my hangar. I also have a Cessna 172 tied down on the ramp because there is no room in my hangar for it. (Full of tools, tables, shelves, RV motor home, motor glider trailer, guitars, amps, keyboard — late night you might hear some rock n roll out there!)
      I’ve never seen either Sporty’s nor King Videos but everyone tells me the King Videos are really good.. John and Martha King from San Diego do a great job of teaching. And they make enough money out of it to own a Cessna Citation, I’m told!
      Are you using Monarch Aviation for your flight school? Thats a good company and we’re glad they are now at HND. I’m the Henderson Airport Director for the the Clark County Aviation Association, and we’re having an open house at HND for the “Learn to Fly Day” on Sat May 15, 9-1 at Monarch’s hangars. Come visit!
      Dan

  223. Falco says:

    Hello Dan,

    I am intrigued by Avatar Airlines, but I have some concerns.

    If I send in an application and you guys don’t get off the ground (no pun intended) do I get my $50.00 dollars back? I just wouldn’t wanna see Barry leave the dream when he gets elected to Congress.

    I live in Las Vegas and I attempted to stop by your office but it looked like it was just a nail salon. Was I in the right place?

    I attempted to search the address and found this,
    http://wingedwhitedragon.com/

    Are you guys assiocoated with this at all?

    I look forward to hearing from you Dan.

    BTW I admire you coming on here daily and answering everybody’s questions without earning a dime. That truly is an exampel of commitment.

    • Dan says:

      Falco:
      $50 application fee: No, you would not get that back. In the case of any company that goes out of business, goes bankrupt, never gets started, creditors and investors are left standing in line at the door or bankruptcy court and rarely get a dime on the dollar, if that.
      So, why would you pay $50 to apply to an airline that has no airplanes, no Part 121 certificate, no training in place, and is not close to flying? I always wonder why pilots do that.

      http://wingedwhitedragon,com/ Oh sure. That’s my girlfriend in the photo at the top of the web page getting her ‘skin cared for’. (I only WISH!). Not really… Apparently that company has moved into our old offices on Rainbow. Family Airlines moved out of there July 2009. No money, we could not pay the high rent.
      New location for Avatar Airlines is 3227 Meade Ave, #2B, Las Vegas, NV 89102.
      2nd floor. Co-located with Nevada Only (a company that assists those wishing to file for corporation status with the state of Nevada, and other duties), and Barry Michaels for Congress HQ. Steve Leseten, our Avatar VP of Finance, also has an office there where he does accounting and income taxes.
      I have no desk there anymore. I work from home.

      Dan

  224. Glen Lappe says:

    Ray ~
    My friend Ned Ackbar will be the guy who owns the airline, it will be called: Ackbar air taxi services. It will be a pilot for hire basically – I think he is going to charge around $150 per flight hour, basically, as long as that plane is in the air, you are paying for it. He also will charge $75 hour for him piloting the plane and then $50 hr for the plane being on the ground if you are requesting him to stay on the ground for 5 hours or less. If you need him to stay overnight, it will be a different scale but that is about 4-6 months down the road and he plans to fly to Mesquite for golf trips, Laughlin and Bryce Canyon.

    Dan -
    I wish there were more people out there who had as much faith as you do in Family Airlines and thank you for coming out and answering questions! Is there a time frame when FAI (Avatar) will be running?

    • Dan says:

      Glen: Thanks for the information on Ackbar ‘airlines’. It sounds expensive to me, but then, I think golfers don’t care what it costs to get out there and chase a little white ball around! (Can you guess I’m NOT a golfer? I relate that to sail boat sailing — nothing wrong with sailboats that about 450 H.P. won’t fix! Bor-ing!)

      Time frame for Avatar: yes, we have one. Avatar will begin flying about one month after we obtain our FAA Part 121 certification, and that will be about 12 months after we obtain something like $165 to $200 million in investor funding.
      The trick is to nail down the time frame for that funding!

      Dan

  225. Crap! I sent by job resume to the old address with a check for $50!

    • Dan says:

      OH… I’ll bet you did! Tell you what.. You send another one to me at my house with a check for $100, and I’ll hand carry it down to the new offices and place it in the filing cabinet where it will gather dust for several more years with the others! Or until Richard Branson or Donald Trump comes to stuff our bank account with $$$ millions!

  226. Ray Bucktell says:

    Is it just me or does someone smell something about this Avatar/Family Airlines? I remember when National started flying, it really took them about 15 months if I recall before they started flying. I am doubting this whole new airline here in Vegas, are you sure it’s not a virtual airline that’s made for MS Flight Simulator? I love to have a dream, I once dreamed that I could be like Sydney Crosby or Reggie White but I then woke up..lol

    Okay Dan, so how close are you guys to landing that 165-200 million? 1 month? 3 months? 6 months? A year? So If I am corrected and from what I have read, you already have filed with the DOT and the FAA for the part 1 certificate? Have you talked with Randy about using some of the B gates? Are guys going to pick up some of those JAL or Quantas 747-400s? Right now, who do you have on your BOD? Are your flight attendants going to really sing and entertain us during flight? I am still trying to understand why using a 747 is logical, especially to places like SAN or LAX. The 747 wasn’t built for short haul flights – I could see LAX-HNL, LAS-HNL and maybe even LAX-NRT or LAS-NRT, can you explain this logic? I know you say most of the revenue will be cargo but I work for a cargo company and we don’t ship it by air much anymore because of the high cost of fuel. What do you expect for turn times and how much time will the planes be in the air? Help me out here, I am lost wondering why the 747 is the right fit for the company. Why not start out using a 737-800/900 or even a 777-300ER. I know, don’t talk us out of using a 747…

    I honestly think this whole thing is a joke started back in the 1990s and brought back again. BTW – great picture on facebook with the Avatar Airline, especially the shot of all you guys in the board room wearing jeans and shirt – that alone tells me you guys are not for real!

    • Dan says:

      Ray: Some good questions , some not so good. Let me try to answer some of them inside your posting. I wish I could use a different color to separate the comments.

      Is it just me or does someone smell something about this Avatar/Family Airlines? I remember when National started flying, it really took them about 15 months if I recall before they started flying.

      Dan replies: National HAD financing! They had investors from the start. They had the Rio Hotel and others pumping money in, as I recall. Family / Avatar does not. This is the dream of one man: Barry Michaels. Barry has gathered around him many knowledgeable volunteers who are working desparately on a “private placement memorandum’ and hope of attracting investors. This must be done VERY carefully, especially in light of the difficulties you are obviously aware of with a prior airline start-up in the early 1990′s. (That was NOT this airline, only the name was similar because its the dream of the same creator.)

      I am doubting this whole new airline here in Vegas, are you sure it’s not a virtual airline that’s made for MS Flight Simulator? I love to have a dream, I once dreamed that I could be like Sydney Crosby or Reggie White but I then woke up..lol

      Okay Dan, so how close are you guys to landing that 165-200 million? 1 month? 3 months? 6 months? A year?

      Dan replies: We have NO IDEA! We have ‘potential investors’, but thus far, my pockets are still empty! “Close” can only be measured when you have some documents and names and promises in hand. How much would you like to invest?

      So If I am corrected and from what I have read, you already have filed with the DOT and the FAA for the part 1 certificate?

      Dan Replies: We have filed with the DOT. They are extremely slow to respond to our communications. As noted at the very top of this exchange, it appears they wish we would ‘go away’. We’re not going away.

      Dan further replies: We have met with the local FAA who could not handle another Part 121 certification at this time. We have ‘shopped’ for another FAA office, so to speak, and found the Miami FAA office is agreeable, especially since we will have our major pilot / flight attendant training there initially, and our heavy maintenance will all be done there. But… the FAA doesn’t start the process UNTIL they have the letter of economic something-or-other from the DOT in their hands. They do not have that at this time.

      Have you talked with Randy about using some of the B gates?

      Dan replies: You’re talking about Randy Walker, Director of Clark County Aviation at McCarran airport. Answer: We HAVE had discussions in person with his staff (Randy doesn’t deal in such mundane matters as airlines requesting gate space!). But not at the B gates. B gates can’t handle a 747. We are talking new E-gates, which will have dual jet-ways for wide body aircraft. McCarran will set them up for either international arrivals (funnel psngrs thru customs) or domestic arrivals (funnel psngrs straight into the terminal).

      Are guys going to pick up some of those JAL or Quantas 747-400s?

      Dan replies: We hav several proposed sources. 747-400s are NOT our immeidate aircraft of choice. 747-300 first (cheaper, we have an offer on several of them now) 747-400 would be the long-range goal – acquire them as the 747-300′s run out of time before any major maintenance. -400 is too expensive for a start-up aircrft anyway. We’ll buy them as we make some more monehy.

      Right now, who do you have on your BOD?

      Dan Replies: BOD members are available in our DOT filing. They change from time to time.

      Are your flight attendants going to really sing and entertain us during flight?
      Dan Replies: How much are you willing to pay them?

      I am still trying to understand why using a 747 is logical, especially to places like SAN or LAX. The 747 wasn’t built for short haul flights – I could see LAX-HNL, LAS-HNL and maybe even LAX-NRT or LAS-NRT, can you explain this logic?

      Dan replies: Yes I can explain it. See ALL the comments on that topic from the very top of this web site. And yes, the 747 WAS built for the short haul market as well. Did you ever year of JAL or ANA? They flew 747s on very sort internal Japan routes for many years. In short, the 747 makes much more sense in economy of scale — two pilots instead of 10 (comparing to 737s), ONE gate instead of 5, one landing fee instead of 5, one gate feet instead of five, one insured flight instead of five, Cost per seat mile — compare to 737 and you’ll find the 747 is still the cheapest plane in cost-per-seat-mile over any other aircaft except the 777 and perhaps now, the A-380. But an A-380 will cost you much much more to purchase than a used 747-300!
      Did you read about our plan to pack 581 passengers into the plane? That’s why we don’t intend to fly 5 or six 737s to to do the job that ONE 747-300 can do!

      I know you say most of the revenue will be cargo but I work for a cargo company and we don’t ship it by air much anymore because of the high cost of fuel.

      Dan replies: Thats too bad. Have you checked our costs for shipping cargo? Barry has a plan to make shippers wonder why they ever shipped on Fed EX or UPS. I didn’t say we plan on MOST of our revenue to come from cargo, but a big chunk of it will. Don’t forget our other profit centers — advertising, on board sales, etc.

      What do you expect for turn times and how much time will the planes be in the air?
      Dan replies: Turn times are always a problem for the bigger aircraft.. But look how Southwest airlines taught the world a newlesson for the 737. With some well rehearsed drills and cooperative vendors, we should get it down to a fine art. We suspect the biggest problem will be getting 581 passengers to march down the jetway and get in their seats. That’s why dual jetways are going to be very important to us. Time in the air: A good 747 spends 18+ hours per day in the air. We plan on keeping ours flying as much as any other 747 airline.

      Help me out here, I am lost wondering why the 747 is the right fit for the company. Why not start out using a 737-800/900 or even a 777-300ER. I know, don’t talk us out of using a 747…
      Dan replies: Already discussed above and in previous comments on this page.

      I honestly think this whole thing is a joke started back in the 1990s and brought back again. BTW – great picture on facebook with the Avatar Airline, especially the shot of all you guys in the board room wearing jeans and shirt – that alone tells me you guys are not for real!
      Dan replies: I just saw the facebook thing a couple of weeks ago. That was not ‘official photo opportunity night’ at Family Airlines. No one told us to dress up. This was an employee meeting one night about two years ago to discuss our financial planning and someone took a photo. I have no idea how it ended up on facebook or who posted it. But…. things are relaxed in Las Vegas! Real people do dress like that to work. Why would we wear suits or ties in our 110 degree heat? Would you?

      By the way, only three of the people in that photo still work for the airline – I guess that means the others are no longer ‘real people’.

      We are only a ‘joke’ if you wish to laugh. To you, I presume every airline that is in the start-up phase with no investors is probably a joke.

      On the other hand, I’m absolutely astonished that we’ve come as far as we have, that we’ve done as much work as we have, that we’ve already had conferences with as many required entitites as we have, and that we’ve filed the documents that we have with NOT ONE CENT from an outside investor, and with NOT ONE EMPLOYEE being paid one dime in over two years! That’s not joking material at all!
      Come work for us for free for a couple of years and talk to us again if you still think we are a ‘joke’.

      Dan

    • Axelsarki says:

      It’s not just you… read the above 230 comments…

  227. Spider W says:

    Dan ~
    I know this might be off topic, but do you think that they maybe slow to respond because of the FAA pulling Pace 121 certificate? I know they are a charter company but it seems some shady stuff was going on with the upper brass.
    I am know a little about the airline, only 13 year in the biz but will Family Air also go part 135? On a side note, will the 747s need to get ETOPS certified? I know Ray said this but there are a few 747-400 just sitting there, could the airlines that own them lease them till you guys get started? Being the chief pilot, will the flight training be in house or down in Miami at Flight Safety?

    I think I may come out to see you May 15th, I am looking to finish up my PP, I have 25 hours…but I been working on that for 10 years..lol
    Talk to you soon friend!

    • Dan says:

      Spider W: I never heard of “Pace” airline. Can you fill me in? CF: Is there a thread on this “Pace Airline” losing its Part 121 certificate for ‘shady stuff’?

      Family Airlines is no more. That endeavor is now called Avatar Airlines. Avatar Airlines will NOT seek a part 135 certificate.

      ETOPS certification is for 2 -engine aircraft to be allowed to fly more than 1 hour from shoreline, more or less. 3 and 4 engine aircraft are allowed to fly long distances over water without ETOPS certification — although in recent years, many of the rules for ETOPS flight planning now apply to both 2 and more-than-2 engine aircraft. ETOPS = ‘Engines Turn or People Swim’…. common joke among airline pilots. But consider, when you’ve only got two engines, and you lose one, you’re down to your very LAST engine! You’re now a single engine airplane with 300 passengers (348 on United’s 777′s, west coast to Hawaii).

      There are 747-400′s ‘just sitting there’ in the desert, but not many. And they don’t stay there very long before they are snatched up by foreign airlines, or often, converted into freighters. The price is usually in the $50 million to $95 million range. The 747-300 can be purchased (used, of course) for anywhere from $5 milllion to $15 million. It has the big top and passenger capacity of the 747-400, but does have older inefficient engines and requires a flight engineer. You can buy several 747-300s for the price of a 747-400. Now do you see why Avatar Airlines (convinced it needs to use some model of the 747) will probably start with 747-300 and LATER convert to 747-400 as the bank accounts allow?

      I’m not the chief pilot. I’m the Vice President of Flight Operations. I happen to BE a pilot, qualified to fly either the 747-200, -300, or -400.

      The flight training will NOT be in house. We plan to sub-contract pilot training and flight attendant training. Initially, the plan is to do all of that in Miami with one of two companies, Flight Safety NOT being one of them. I’m not sure Flight Safety even has a 747 simulator.

      PP? Private Pilot? 25 hours… OK… 10 years to get 25 hours? Hmm… Most of our applicants have 10,000 to 20,000 hours of flight time. At that rate, it will take you 4000 years to accumulate 10,000 hours. Call me back in the year 6010.

      Dan

  228. Ray Bucktell says:

    Dan ~
    I am confused – according to Jonathan Humpert of KLAS, that the DOT will not approve the application of either Family Airlines or as you so call it: Avatar Airlines (which I think is lame) as long as Mr. Barry Michales is in charge or the CEO and get your act together. Are you sure you guys aren’t trying to pull the scam again like back in the 90′s and screw people over like Stillman Sprague? I know everyone makes mistakes but there are some mistakes that people don’t learn from – it really sounds like this whole FAI/Avatar airlines just that, a scam! And a $50 application fee? Why would anyone want to pay that for an airline who doesn’t have DOT approval! I know, you aren’t a “big” fan of the application fee! Come on, a 747-400 from here to SAN or LAX? Don’t spit at me and tell me it’s raining outside, I (am I am sure others) don’t see the logic of using a 747 and I know you guys don’t want to be like everyone else but you can use a smaller airplane and have the same business plan. Look at Allegiant, they use both the MD80 and 757 and have varied fares and before you say, “wait, Allegiant doesn’t have 757′s”. Yes they do! Two will be delievered to them some time this summer. Dan, I don’t mean to clown but I am not a believer just like half of the people who post on this. I think Mr. Acbar will have better luck with using a 182 to fly golfers around. I tell you what, if you guys get flying, I will be the first to buy a ticket to fly to Hawaii.

    • Dan says:

      Ray Bucktell:
      Who is Jonathan Humpert of KLAS? That’s an airport or a radio station? When did he state that the DOT will NOT approve an application? And with what authority does he say that? Does he work for the DOT? Or is he just mouthing off some personal speculation? I’ve not seen him in our office. He has no clue what work we have done, no clue what preparations have been made, no clue what training, maintenance, operations, etc that we have set up and propose to use. No clue how our work to secure funding is progressing… so He has NO CLUE as to whether or not the DOT will ever approve our application!

      As for Barry Michaels, thus far, no one at the DOT has said he MUST step down.. only that they want more documentation that he has ‘changed his ways’ so-to-speak since the previous time he tried to start up an airline. That was almost 20 years ago. We have provided that documentation, complete with an update on Barry’s worthy projects of community interest and improvement since then. Barry is an honest citizen, has no restraints against him, he can, and does run for Congress!
      A scam? It would be a scam if the airline was bilking the public, or individuals. That would mean the airline was raking in $$$. If so… I’d sure like to see it! Please send me to the bank account! I’m due over two years of salary right now… thus far, I’ve been paid NOT ONE CENT! No one has! We can’t even pay the rent for our offices and were told to move out — which we did last year.
      The ONLY THING keeping Avatar from leaping forth into the air is the funding. We need investors. We need money to operate with . We need money to purchase airplanes and equipment. We need money to set up training and ticket sales. We need money to hire people. We need money to pay landing fees and gate fees. And we need money to buy fuel.

      $50 application fee? You ask ‘why would anyone want to pay that for an airline who doesn’t have DOT approval?’ Good question. I ask the same. Let me know when you find a good answer. I wouldn’t pay it.

      747-300 (or -400) for our routes: Why do YOU insist that small planes are the way to go, just because others are doing it? They do it because their fares would not FILL a 747, and they fly with empty seats all too often. They pay dearly in landing fees, and have to hire FIVE TIMES as many pilots and FIVE TIMES as many flight attendants to staff those small planes to fly the SAME NUMBER of passengers from point A to B. Why would the do that? Because they can only find 60 to 80 passengers that want to fly LAS to JFK for $350 (maybe more!). At $69, we’re pretty darn sure that we can fly one 747 and it will be absolutely full, almost every flight.
      Its called Economy of Scale.

      Yes, I’m very aware that Allegiant has purchased 4 or more 757s. They will begin flights LAS to Hawaii very soon. A wise choice for them. In fact, I wish they’d replace all their MD-80s with 757s. The 757 is the much better choice — quite a versatile aircraft, cheap to operate, can land just about anywhere, and carries a good load. United’s 757s carried more passengers than their early 767-200s (which makes one wonder why they kept the 767-200 so long, when it weighed 100,000 pounds more, burned a lot more fuel, and carried fewer passengers?)

      I realize that Avatar is a strange duck. Its NOT what you would expect in a traditional airline at all. But then, traditionally, airlines LOSE money, unless they find that special niche such as Southwest or Allegiant or Jet Blue. And all 3 of them started out with low costs by cutting salaries and benefits, and operating only ONE type of aircraft (saves on spares, and maintenance if you have commonality of parts, and the planes all use the same ground support equipment).

      Avatar has a slim chance of getting airborne, I will certainly agree. But its not due to lack of a plan, not due to a stupid plan, not due to being unsafe or ill-prepared, not due to failure to have training, or maintenance, or gates, or baggage handlers, or qualified pilots or trained flight attendants — it will be due to lack of funding. That is the ONLY thing holding us back at this moment.

      Dan

      • Ray Bucktell says:

        Dan ~
        He is a reporter for KLAS TV on the I-Team, ya know George Knapp who under covers some pretty interesting stuff? I suggest you going to their website and search “Family Airlines”! I am still having a hard time seeing a 747-300 getting filled up between here and San Diego, with Southwest running flights between here and there at least 20 flights a day all non-stop, I don’t think most people will want to pay $19 on family airlines time, if I have to leave for a meeting that starts at 10am and them come back on a 3 or 4pm flight and Family Airlines/Avatar has a flight that leaves here at 10am and returns at 12pm, I think Southwest will be my choice. I can see between here and JFK, MIA, ORD and MCO for 1 flight a day but not between LAS and LAX or SAN. Have you checked out the schedules between here and LAS and SAN on WN? Both have close to 20 flights a day, not including to ONT, SNA or BUR – not wroth it to me. I am glad you are a dreamer because that is all that this airline will be, you are better off of starting one on MS Flight Simulator…lol

        CF – Would it be possible to post the link on here for all to hear it for themselves?

        • CF says:

          Absolutely. If you’ve got the link, post away.

          • Thanks CF!

            Dan ~
            Explain this, make sure you view the videos also:

            http://www.8newsnow.com/Global/story.asp?S=10371231

            3 time felon…Once in AZ for mail fraud and 1 count for tax fraud and 1 count for securities fraud which add up to 3 times…He spent 15 months at Nellis Federal Corrections. I know people can change but the stuff that said against him is incriminating. Please explain this – I want to believe in him but I don’t want to 1) have an elected official with that kind of track record – we have enough people in DC and here in NV that are shady and 2) I don’t think a guy should already award himself stocks.

          • ttjoseph says:

            @Ray Bucktell – Wow, great find. According to the PDF posted in that story, as of 2005 Barry was the president of “Nevada Only, LLC” (nevadaonly.com), a company which sells shelf corporations because (this is a quote from their website) “Sometimes it is necessary to purchase an aged shelf corporation or LLC when dealing with corporate credit, getting a loan, or dealing with government contracts to show a company history.” I’m not a lawyer but that sounds pretty darn close to fraud, or at the very least, shady as all hell.

            @Dan – Was Barry up front with you about his past convictions?

            I suspect Barry’s idea is, once again, to attract money to the business and find some way to take it. (What else could possess any rational person to ask a $50 application fee for a job at an airline that is nowhere near flying?) Maybe some money laundering thrown in for good measure. The DOT filings, office space, and board meetings are for appearances. The (still unlicensed?) medical clinic is something he can point to as a character reference. In the end, Dan, he is trying to bank on your reputation.

  229. Falco says:

    Hello Dan,

    Thank you for your response. As an out of work pilot I just don’t see how anybody can hand a 3 time felon (with a potential for a 4th by calling himself a doctor even though he has no license.) their money.

    I did some research on Barry and found a pleothora of concerns. So basically twenty years ago he preyed on laid off Pan Am pilots who invested their money only to have him spend over 300K on himself. In a similar climate he appears to be preying on more out of work pilots looking for a job. Dan I hope you have invested nothing other then your time because I have a feeling you won’t be getting any of it back and my gut tells me that FAI won’t see the light of day.

    The other concern I have is that even though the state of California has revoked his license and he doesn’t have one in Nevada he is calling himself a Doctor which is illegal. It would appear that Michaels puts on a good dog and pony show but seems like the same guy that spent time in prison for various white collar crimes. People can change but I get the feeling your boss is just looking for suckers to help me buy a few more Mercedes Benzs.

    • Dan says:

      Falco:
      Please give more details. 3 time felon? I know of only ONE conviction in Barry’s past, and that was due to some bad advice on handling the investment in the airline, I’m told. What are the other 2? And 300K? The story I heard from a former FAI pilot had something to do with buying a company car (certainly not a $300K car!) with funds invested to operate the airline, and he used the car. Barry has never told me any details.

      If this is a get-rich scam to scam pilots, its not working very well. He can’t even pay the office rent. I don’t think all the $50 applications would pay the rent for one week. Barry had better get a book on how-to-run-a–scam if he wants to get rich here! The airline has NO source of income the entire time I’ve worked here (2 years) other than the pittance from the few applicaton fees it has received. The officer copier toner cost more than the airline has taken in.

      I have no knowledge of what you are talking about as to Barry’s lack of a license. I had heard he was a chiropractor long ago, so he must have had some training to do that, and I presume that awards him the title of “Doctor”. Isn’t that his to use for the rest of his life, whether or not he works in that profession?
      Nonetheless, I have not seen him use the title of Doctor on anything, and certainly nothing in conjunction with the airline. Why would he? And what makes it illegal if he did use that title with his name, since he was awarded that title by the ‘school-of-chiropractic-medicine’ or whatever it was?

      Dan

  230. Frank Rizzo says:

    What do you get when you mix a pigeon and a jackass?

    • Dan says:

      Frank: ‘What do you get when you mix a pigeon and a jackass?’

      I don’t know, but I’ll bet its too heavy to fly!

      (And I wouldn’t want to clean up the mess it would probably leave!)

      Dan

      • Nope! Family Airlines – Your right about one part of the joke, it’s too heavy to fly but that is because you guys are so full of crap with this whole flying 747-300 (gas hog) to SAN, LAX, SJC from LAS for $19. I don’t see houw your guys expect to get, I think .55 cents psm and make a profit. If you guys ever get off the ground, I suggest another plane that is smaller or go with a 777. I know, I know Captain Dan – “Don’t suggest a smaller airplane, won’t happen!”. Be logical if you want this dream to fly. I know you all want to fly cargo but you can do that with a 777.

        • Dan says:

          Frank
          I don’t think the air fare will pay the cost of flying a 747 LAS to SAN. Even with a full plane. We’ll just have to sell a LOT of drinks, snacks, and full length feature film movie rentals on that flight! (Hey, sorry you didn’t get to see the entire movie, but we’re landing now, so hand it back!)
          Also, the advertising pays no matter how short or long the flight.
          Also, we can carry a lot of Las Vegas casino chips to the ‘native American casinos’ down in San Diego in cargo (what else does Las Vegas export?)

          No doubt, the LAS-SAN leg will be a loss-leader, meant to take the San Diegans home who just flew back from Hawaii, NY, or Miami via LAS. The return leg , SAN-LAS, will pick them up to go to those destinations. At our fares, they’d do that rather than take the non-stops out of SAN that go straight to JFK or HNL. (Is there a SAN-HNL flight today?)

          777s. Hmmm… just how many 747-300′s could we buy for the price of ONE 777? Maybe 20?????

          Dan

  231. Spider W says:

    You know, it’s funny Dan, you avoiding what Ray has pointed out about Barry. Are you sure you know this guy well? Speaking of which, if I recall from Political Science from college, if you are a felon (let alone a 3x felon), you are not able to vote. Is there a loop hole in the law that allows him to run for office?

    I am now confused about the 747 thing to SAN or LAX, are you saying you aren’t 100% sure you guys can fill them up? I know 747-300 are cheaper but aren’t there -400s out there for just the same price?

    But back to my first question, if what the news story is 100% true, then why waste the time and money to start the airline?

    • Dan says:

      Spider, Frank, Falco, and Ray:
      1. I’ve seen the web site with Channel 8 videos. That was a year ago. Sensational west coast yellow journalism at its best to be sure. The topic of the day was the mini-clinic. They apparently thought Barry was going to present himself as a doctor at the clinic. Nothing could be further from the truth. He gave up his chiropractor’s license in California when he moved to Nevada to do other things, and I don’t think ever intended to perform such work in Nevada, so he doesn’t have a NV license. He has NO intention of being a doctor at the mini-clinic and has never presented himself as doing so! He has doctors on staff for that. He just set it up. Its something this city needs. They also leaped on the fact he had no business license at the time… You don’t need one until you start up your business — minicare was a long way from start up at the time, you can apply and get one quickly when you’re ready to open your doors in Nevada.
      I don’t know why Ch 8 chose to attack him for trying to assist the city’s needs for low cost health care. You’d think with all the Obama administration emphasis on health care the city would be happy to have the clinic open, and providing $22 office visits, no insurance needed!

      BTW, I have nothing to do with the mini-care clinic. They don’t have wings on it, no jet engines, and they don’t need pilots to examine sick people!

      2. If a former felon cannot vote nor run for office, then Barry must have cleared his record and become a good citizen, because he does both, and does them quite legally. They check for stuff like that, ya know, before they let you file to run for Congress.

      3. Used 747-300 = About $5 million to $10 million.
      Used 747-400 = About $50 million to $100 million each. Now you see why we won’t be buying 747-400′s to start out?

      4. If you are a business man and need to fly to San Diego at 0800 and return the next day at precisely 1600, then you probably won’t be flying on Avatar Airlines. You’ll be buying a round trip ticket on Southwest Airlines for about $359 to $379 (I just checked that on Southwest ticket sales on their own web site). And the next week, you’ll be taking your wife, your girlfriend and your three kids for about the same total price ($29 each way, $58 round trip X 6 people = $348) on Avatar Airlines, and gladly slide your vacation schedule to match Avatar’s departure timing.

      4. “If what the news story says is true…..”…. The news story was just making a splash, asking the question: Would you want to go to a medical clinic (or fly on an airline) run by a former felon?
      The point is, the nation needs an airline like Avatar, just as they need cheap medical care. Barry’s past is available for all to see. Isn’t it obvious he’s trying to be a good citizen today with all of his give-back to the comunity activities of a low-cost clinic, running for Congress, and trying to start up an airline that the average citizen can afford to fly on?

      Avatar Airlines is a good idea, no matter who runs it. That news splash on TV was a year ago, and we never heard one comment, not one call, not one complaint from a future customer of either the mini-clinic nor the airline from it. The ONLY source we see of skeptics in the last year, is THIS web site!

      But.. you all DO ask good questions and I suppose its good that we have to think about the answers to make sure we’re headed the right direction!

      Dan

      • @Dan SFeastbay
        What is sad that Dan really believes this will work. I support a person and their dream but I think this whole think is a joke.

        @Dan
        Yes, the videos are from a year ago. I don’t see how it is west cost yellow journalism, he points out the fact that Barry Micheal is a former felon with 3 convictions, 1 in Arizona and 2 in California. How can you deny that? The first story was about his medical clinic and the second story was about the defunct “Family Airlines” where he got his second set of felonies. He robbed good people of their money, like Stillman Sprague! I don’t see how Barry Michale has a chance of even getting 20% of the votes with his colorful past, regardless if he has paid his debt to society, Once a felon, always a felon – especially if he is going to go into office?

        Dan, you maybe checked out and type rated to fly a 747 but that doesn’t make you qualified to run an airline. I know that I am not, I just know how to make a profit and I don’t see the 747 flying between SAN/LAX to LAS will work, you even said it yourself that it may not make money and that you will have to sell a lot of drinks or sell movies. I have traveled a lot between here and LAX and SAN, the F/As on Southwest barely can serve 130 in 50 minuets let along doing a service with 500+ people!

        Be honest with us Dan, do you think that Family Airlines AKA Avatar will even fly? I know investors will be hard to invest dime with Barry Michael track record. It worked for National for a while but have you approached people like Harrah’s or Boyd Gaming for investments? This might have worked back in the late 90′s but I think it’s going to be harder to star an airline today. Good airlines like ATA and Aloha have gone (but we know what really happened to Aloha).

        • Axelsarkis says:

          “(but we know what really happened to Aloha).”
          Enlighten us about what you’re refering to, please. I think I know what you might be thinking, but I’m not sure….

          • When Aloha was going thru Chapter 11 proceedings, Mesa holdsing got ahold of their finanical records and now there is GO! and no more Aloha a short time after. Aloha did try to sue but didn’t win, wonder why?

          • Two words: Mesa Holdings.

            From what I understand, when they were in Chapter 11, Mesa got a hold of their books and decided to start flying the islands.

  232. I can’t believe that 260+ posts later people are still commenting and talking about Family Airlines nine months after the original post. I don’t know to think that it’s funny or really sad……lol

  233. Why are you guys harping on the LAS-SAN or LAS-LAX legs. If you have read the DOT filing, and I have!, they plan on using LAS as a hub to LAX,JFK,MIA,HNL etc.
    Question to Dan.
    You stated previously that the name of the company was changed based on the
    desires of a financier. Does that mean that in fact some financing has been obtained?
    I had posted earlier regarding the availability of 30 some odd B744s becoming available from JAL. Did this event factor in to the start up proposal now?
    The B747-300′s I know that are available are very long in the tooth and have been operating very hard with the likes of Air India, Pakistan and lesser companies from the African or Asian backwaters. Assuming that an operating certificate can be obtained, is it really feasbile to base a start up on a plane that is going to need some serious maintenance work before going into service?
    Surely it might be more cost effective to acquire some better maintained aircraft at a slightly higher cost, than getting bargain basement planes and incurring heavy maintenance costs?

    • Dan says:

      CargoMan:
      “You stated previously that the name of the company was changed based n the desires of a financier. Does that mean that in fact some financing has been obtained?”

      To which I reply by quoting myself from a message way up there, April 19,2010:
      “But… apparently we do have a potential investor who inisted and came up with the name Avatar.”

      Now.. THAT means, NO! We do not have financing! We do NOT have funding. We do NOT have money in the bank! No one is getting paid. He was/ is a “POTENTIAL” investor! That means it has not happened, yet! (If it ever will!)
      And I have no clue who he is or was or if he has suggested he might invest a dime or a billion$. I’m not the ‘money man’ in this airline at all! He may have been someone the financial guys met in a bar who said he’d give them a nickel if they’d change the name….. and Barry did it! Now, we’re waiting for that nickel!

      As for acquiring ‘better maintained aircraft at a slightly higher cost’…. just how much ‘slightly higher’? There is no 747-400 that we know of that can be purchased cheaper than buying a 747-300 and making it flyable for our purposes.

      And no, the availability of 30 some odd B744s from JAL did not factor into our start up proposal at all. In fact, I don’t recall knowing about them, I don’t track the used 747 market in the last year, and I won’t until we get serious (that means we have some $$$ in our bank or coming to it imminently) about buying some planes and performing some proving runs for the FAA certificate.
      None of that will happen until we get some serious investors talking to us about more than a name change for the airline!

      Dan

      • Falco says:

        Dan,

        I think Cargoman makes some excellent points about the 300 as opposed to the 400. I recently read that JAL plans to have all of their 400s out of service by the end of the year and certainly you’d think that the merger between CO and UAL will see them “retire” some of their older 400s.

        I may be wrong but I think the point he is making is that you are likely to find some 400s that may become available which have been much better maintaned then the 300s that have been operated by the likes of PIA, Transaero and TAAG Angola Airlines. You’d have to think the manitnence required on those would be quite expensive to get them up to standards wheras with JAL you know they’ve been well taken care during their lifespan, also consider that age difference between the 2 series, it may only be a few years but when we’re talking planes over 20 years old that is a huge factor.

    • Cargoman,
      I have read the DOT filing many times by FAI aka Avatar airlines and very aware that LAS is going to be the hub for thr carrier. This concept is workable for markets long haul like LAS-JFK, LAS-MIA or LAS-HNL. Selling seats at $19 per person would make at, if all seats are filled around 10k now factor in fuel, operating cost like crew pay and maintenance cost would make that 10k to about 5k, fuel would take the rest of that, now you have to rely on food sales during the flight and as I have poined out, selling 500 drinks in 50 min or less. won’t happen, you will be luck if you get to 100 people. I know they plan to focus on cargo sales but I don’t see a 747 getting filled up to SAN or LAS for a few reasons, 1) It may be a take off weight issues out of Vegas or landing weight issue 2) Cargo sales are down, regardless!

      I honestly think changing the name per one of your investors was a joke. I would have before we change the time, then we want some kind of an investment, then we could change it. I am doubting FAI got anything from that investor and now he laughing at you guys.

      Dan, let me ask you this. If I told you I wanted to invest in your airline but I didn’t like the name Avatar and wanted to change it to Empire or Lando Airline, would you guys change it? I doubt it. What if I told you that I won’t invest money but I will buy you guys an airplane but it wouldn’t be a 747-300 but something like a 767-400? I doubt it….but hey it sounds like you guys like your investors do whatever, so it could happen, right?

  234. Ray Bucktell says:

    How come Barry Michales hasn’t come out here and commented on anything said?

    • Dan says:

      Ray:
      A good question. But… I can tell you, Barry scoffs at the thought of posting something on a web site like this. He detests such skeptics attacking his ideas and concept of an airline. If you really make him mad, he might post a one-line retort. He sees no benefit in this type of discussion — it won’t get his airline airborne any sooner, and none of you are going to invest a dime, so why bother with you all?
      OTOH, I don’t mind, and I find it brings up some good questions that we do need to be thinking about. Talk is cheap, doesn’t cost us a dime!
      Dan

  235. Todd says:

    Dan ~

    I was reading the post and I notice you said something about “Learn to Fly Day”. Can you fill me in more on this? What does it entail? I am looking to finish up my PP, have 20+ hours. Thanks!

    • Dan says:

      Todd: International “Learn to Fly Day”, is May 15th, at airports everywhere. Being highly pushed by AOPA and EAA.
      Here in Las Vegas, the Clark County Aviation Association (a loose group of pilots, hangar owners, airplane owners, ‘stakeholders’ in the local airports, formed to negotiate with the owner of all of our airports, Clark County Department of Aviation) is hosting a big open house at the Henderson Airport in the Monarch Sky school hangar, on JetStream Blvd. First right turn after you enter the airport entry road, right after the Alper Airport office building.
      9 a.m. to 1 pm Lots of planes on display, and many tables with various aviation groups touting their wares and services… EAA, CCAA, 99′s, AOPA, Monarch Sky, the helicopter tour folks, the glider folks from Jean, and I have no idea who/what else.
      Come on out. Or, if not in Vegas, just check your local general aviation airport.. Should be all over the country.
      Avatar Airlines will NOT have a table at this event! We have no money for such frivolities! I don’t even have a new business card – -mine still say Family Airlines!

  236. Dan says:

    UPDATE! A buddy of mine just sent me this advertisement he found today.

    Notice that no airline experience is required. Strange, but Glenn Tilton, CEO of United, had no airline experience either (came from Texaco?) so I guess the govt doesn’t care about the CEO so much. The DOT certainly insisted on the lower employees having not only airline experience, but management experience in the airlines!
    As we’ve seen so many times before, airline CEOs come from all sorts of strange places, (Dick Ferris, former UAL CEO, came up thru the hotel business ranks). As long as they can deal with banks and such as Barry points out below, I guess they can run an airline, as they can run any business.

    So… Which of you are ready to apply to be my new CEO???
    And when Barry gets elected to Congress, he’ll make sure the bills are passed to keep your airline afloat!
    Dan

    job from
    http://www.avianation.com

    ———————————————————-
    Company Name: AVATAR AIRLINES
    Position: Chief Executive Officer
    Description: Airline Chief Executive Officer Wanted – Are you up for a
    challenge? Do you want to take part in making history? I am
    the current CEO/Chairman and in control of AVATAR AIRLINES,
    formerly Family Airlines a major ultra low fare airline in the
    certification phase. I am seeking my replacement as I am
    currently running for U.S. Congress (see:
    http://www.michaelsforcongress.com ) and I may not qualify with the
    DOT do to my checkered past. Much of the airline’s work has
    already been completed including, hiring the majority of
    executive staff, FAA manuals, extensive financial model
    (allowing for over 400 variables and lent to the DOT) ,
    Department of Transportation (DOT) filing for Economic
    Authority and a $220,000,000 offering document prepared by
    a partner at Squire & Sanders, one of the largest and oldest
    law firms in the country. This is by far a new generation ultra
    low fare passenger airline which may become one of the largest
    airline’s ever certified in the U.S.. From its inception I expect
    the airline to be debt free, well capitalized and profitable while
    at the same time offering every day airfares as low as $19. I’m
    looking for a well seasoned executive who need not have airline
    experience. However the candidate should be familiar with the
    capital markets and with the help of the other senior executives
    prepare to as well as solicit investment banks/security brokers.
    This position is not for everyone but is a chance of a lifetime
    for the right individual. For more information please write: BM
    at: nevadaonly@yahoo.com

  237. Almost 280 comments on an airline that doesn’t exist, that must be a record. Everyone here who has been negative on FAI needs to promise if they do get off the ground to fly them at least once and buy all the extra services…..lol

  238. Dan says:

    AVATAR UPDATE:
    As I posted above, Avatar Airlines has advertised for a new CEO to replace Barry Michaels. We have found and hired a new CEO.

    This was the official announcment from Barry Michaels on 17May10:
    ==============================================
    It is my great pleasure to announce the appointment of Lieutenant Colonel Gerald M. Ward as the new Chief Executive Officer of Avartar Airlines. Gerry and I have spent a great deal of time together over this past weekend and I am very impressed with his management skills, aviation/airline background and most of all his ability to lead. Gerry will have full operating authority and I’m hoping to assist him as an independent consultant and a Member of Avatar’s Board of Directors.
    ================================================

    Mr. Ward is taking over all responsibility for senior management functions of the airline at this time. All future communications from Avatar Airlines will be found on our new website, http://www.avatarairlines.com

    Please look there for information about the airline in the future.
    Its been fun!

    Dan Eikleberry
    Vice President, Flight Operations
    Avatar Arilines

    • Axelsarkis says:

      Good for you guys, Dan, about the web site. At least you guys have a half-decent web site now.

      @ David: For sure. I still can imagine it happening, but, if it does, with $19 fares, be sure I will.

  239. wild bill says:

    Just read all these articles,wow sounds more like giving birth to thousands of new bourns and then adopting them out with families,friends,finances. Now we are expecting them all to grow and learn together under god. In god we trust all ,with the promises of incarnation between heaven and earth we become ,who we are human. I previous enjoyed business in nevada with 500 employees daily, if you know what your doing it will work out ,the pursuit of perfection takes a while so keep trying. wild bill 702 and family,thx,to everyone.

  240. Pingback: Las Vegas Jobs » Blog Archive » Assistant to Airline CEO

  241. Keith Chiclebowicz says:

    I was wondering why they’re advertising on Craig’s list saying they’re looking for someone but offering no pay to date. (show casing the fact that no one is going to draw pay until they are up and running) I don’t need any help not paying bills, I need a job TO pay the bills…

    • Keith share the ad, with this being the 285th comment on an airline that doesn’t exist, it would be fun to see.

      Guessing they are looking for retired industry people who want to be involved to pass the time away.

    • Dan says:

      Keith: “I need a job to pay the bills…”
      Dan: And so, I guess you won’t be working for Avatar Airlines anytime in the near future! We pay NO ONE. Not even Barry Michales. Not even me.

      I’m not aware of any ads on Craigslist. What do they say? Which jobs are open? Maybe I should apply if any of them pay more than the one I already have!

      Dan

  242. Frank Rizzo says:

    It’s been what, 2? maybe even 3 years or longer since this idea of Family Airlines/Avatar airlines has been back in the rumor mill? I think it’s time to give up the dream…the airline will NEVER get off the ground – It will NEVER get the funding and I don’t foresee the DOT approving this circus of an airline.

    • Dan says:

      Frank: And it never will get any funding nor get off the ground IF we do ‘give up the dream’ will it?

      Barry Michaels is pounding the sidewalks of Las Vegas the past few weeks, seeking hotels/casinos that might be interested in investing in an airline that will bring them customers. He is meeting with a major hotel CEO today. He has met with several hotel CEO’s and senior management who have indicated they might well be just so interested and willing to support the start up of Avatar Airlines. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for now.

      Just last night, I received a strong suggestion by another casino/hotel management to talk to his CEO who is very interested in bringing the Hawaiian tourist market to his hotel and an airline like Avatar just may fill a big chunk of his needs. This falls in line with the encouragement we have received from the Hawaii Visitors Bureau who tells us ‘every Hawaiian wants to fly non-stop to Vegas from Hawaii’.

      In other news, the price of a used 747-400 has apparently dropped to a value such that we just may start right up with the -400, instead of the -300. It all depends upon the financing and investors.

      And in the DOT department, you may have seen a mild skirmish recently where the DOT mistakenly thought we were already selling tickets. How could they be SO confused? Avatar has set them straight — the fares found on our web site are clearly our concept of proposed fares, IF and when we finally get flying.

      There is NO WAY to purchase a ticket on our web site until the airline is certificated, and a start date has been published! You’d be a fool to think our web site even hints that we are an existing, operating airline…. but then, you’re dealing with the federal government — react first, think later?

      (Do you think anyone on the DOT even knows about this web site? Much less reads our comments posted here?)

      Dan

  243. Leo Mullen says:

    It’s funny…I work for a major hotel in the executive offices and I mentioned this to our CEO and his remark was “Who the hell is Barry Michaels”? I don’t think there is any major hotel in Vegas right now who really has the money to throw to an airline that’s just on paper. I can tell you right now, there will be a few airlines excluding Avatar who are or will be starting service to Maui and Honolulu within the next 6 to 12 months. I can also tell you the DOT is aware of these postings and the “Avatar” website.

    Honestly, I don’t see how Barry has the time to be asking for money for this airline when he is running for congress. I guess his priority is not winning a seat.

    • Dan says:

      Leo:
      Is the major hotel you work for in Las Vegas? If so, which one?
      Barry sent out letters to all the major hotels. He has already met with the senior management, in most cases, the owner or CEO, of just about every major hotel on the Strip. And every one of them was due to a phone call from that hotel requesting Barry to come by and make a presentation to them. Barry called none of them. He met with the Tropicana hotel yesterday, and the meeting was very favorable.

      How do you know the DOT views the comments on this forum? What have you seen to indicate that?
      We know they are aware of our web site –we sent it to them. They told us that we are the very first airline that they have allowed to even HAVE a website before being certified. We’ve made some improvements to the web site which they have noted and approved in a letter received just today.

      If your CEO is not aware of the existence of Avatar Airlines, or Barry Michaels, then must have missed the snail-mail sent to him, or his staff diverted it.
      The other CEO’s will have the first opportunity to participate and/or invest. Barry is making some very good offers to the hotels willing to participate, and your’s will miss out. Several hotels are so interested in bringing new customers to their hotels in large quantities, they have expressed a desire to purchase large blocks of seats for their guests, once we get flying.

      Who is your CEO? Let us know, and we’ll tell him all about Barry Michaels.

      As I understand the politics, Barry is running unoppposed on an independant ticket, and was not a candidate in the primary elections here in Vegas. His name will appear automatically on the November ballot, and the campaigns are a month or two away for that one.
      Dan

    • Dan says:

      Leo:
      Is the major hotel you work for in Las Vegas? If so, which one?
      Barry sent out letters to all the major hotels. He has already met with the senior management, in most cases, the owner or CEO, of just about every major hotel on the Strip. And every one of them was due to a phone call from that hotel requesting Barry to come by and make a presentation to them. Barry called none of them. He met with the Tropicana hotel yesterday, and the meeting was very favorable.

      How do you know the DOT views the comments on this forum? What have you seen to indicate that?
      We know they are aware of our web site –we sent it to them. They told us that we are the very first airline that they have allowed to even HAVE a website before being certified. We’ve made some improvements to the web site which they have noted and approved in a letter received just today.

      If your CEO is not aware of the existence of Avatar Airlines, or Barry Michaels, then must have missed the snail-mail sent to him, or his staff diverted it.
      The other CEO’s will have the first opportunity to participate and/or invest. Barry is making some very good offers to the hotels willing to participate, and your’s will miss out. Several hotels are so interested in bringing new customers to their hotels in large quantities, they have expressed a desire to purchase large blocks of seats for their guests, once we get flying.

      Who is your CEO? Let us know, and we’ll tell him all about Barry Michaels.

      As I understand the politics, Barry is running unoppposed on an independant ticket, and was not a candidate in the primary elections here in Vegas. His name will appear automatically on the November ballot, and the campaigns are a month or two away for that one.
      Dan

  244. It starting to become more and more humorous but yet sad at the same time with these postings. Having to know a lot of CEO’s here in Vegas and spoke to a few yesterday and tonight, one even said, “Who the hell is this clown”?. It’s funny, if I spoke with Barry and he was asking for money, I would be worried where my money is going. I know he is running for office, so I would be worried that my money would be going to fund his campaign. But there is an old saying, “Once a crook, always a crook”.

  245. Mr. Michaels is on craigslist looking for an Executive Assistant to work without salary for at least 90 days…

    i have some time to kill and am not broke, but i gather from the posts here that most would not consider this a constructive use of one’s time.

    R

  246. With a few comments short of 300 for Family Airlines, I’m not going to read back to see if this was mentioned already. There has been a lot of mocking about them flying 747′s domesticly, but I was wondering about Tower Air. They had all 747′s and while flying internatinal and military charters, they did fly domestic service to SFO,LAX,LAS, MIA/FLL, SJU and SDQ. Does anyone know/remember how that service was for them using 747′s at that time compared to now if Family/Avatar was to get off the ground?

  247. Jack Tors says:

    David SF eastbay – The differance between now and then is the cost of Jet fuel….

    I am still waiting for someone to come on here and say, “ha ha ha – just kidding, family airlines was nothing by a hoax”

    • Dan says:

      Jack Tors: Jack says he’s still waiting for someone to say:
      “…Family Airlines was nothing but a hoax”…. Yep, me, too! Then I won’t have to go to work for free anymore, the desk will be gone, the office will be gone, the filing cabinets full of job applications will be gone, the computers and manuals will all be gone, and we (well, at least Barry) won’t have to pay rent anymore!

      In reality, however, Avatar Airlines is growing. Barry has ‘hired’ (you all know by now the loose term we use around here for being ‘hired’… means work for free, no pay until we get some $$!) several new executives who intend to see this thing get airborne.
      Further, the paperwork for potential investors is about as solid and complete as it can get, considering that lawyers and accountants have hammered away at it for so many months.
      And last of all, the interviews with various hotels, casinos, and other large businesses in Las Vegas have been going very very well (much to my surprise, and probably yours, as well!). Barry has really stirred up some high level interest this time.

      Naturally, I want the money to roll in, the paperwork and certification to be completed rapidly, because I’m 64 now and have just one year left to get into that left seat and fly you all to Hawaii in a nice Boeing 747!

      I’m getting kinda tired of flying a Cessna 172 and an RV-6 (although, the RV-6 is about 100 times more fun than a 747 any day).

      Dan

      • If you have a dream you should never stop dreaming. So one day it all may come true.

        With JAL getting rid of all it’s 747-400′s you might be able to pick up some planes since their big 747 fleet will put a lot of metal on the market making the older versions drop in price I would think.

  248. Hondo says:

    I heard that Avatar will be flying by December using a CRJ1000 and have placed orders to pick up some EMB190′s. I also heard that Steve Slater will be the head flight attendant too!

  249. In case anyone needs the ‘Avatar’ Airlines web address it’s:
    http://avatarairlines.com/

    Ok, I admit I only posted that as this is comment number 300 on Family/Avatar Airlines and I was on a quest to get to 300……LOL

    This must be a Cranky Flyer record for the most comments on a single blog. :-)

  250. ASarkiss says:

    Well, sometime has passed since our long debate here. Any update on Avatar/Family/whatever since then? Have not heard anything. Did they finally shut down? Dan?

  251. Dan says:

    This is comment # 302? (Some kind of record?)
    The airline is still called Avatar for the time being… (Until someone comes up with enough $$ to make us change again!). Much progress this year already. Many talks with potential advertisers. Several interested in an entire airplane ‘wrap’ (paint job– but you don’t paint — kinda like busses and taxis youve seen). And many talks with potential investors. Getting ‘close’ on acquiring some airplanes, too. So…. things are moving along, but as usual, its all volunteer work until the $$ shows up in a bank account. Anyone want to invest?

  252. Axelsarkis says:

    Any updates, Dan? Find any 747′s for $30?

  253. Hondo says:

    I am still waiting for Family Airlines or Avatar Airlines…..whatever they are called today to begin flying….I need a job flying 747! I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t hold out for them or I may have missed my chance to fly for an airline that exists.

    What is Barry up to these days? I see he was in court with his lawyer Guinness….

    I guess this airlines will never get started…..

    I think Ackbar Airlines has already started their service from HND to VGT for $25

  254. Hondo says:

    http://www.8newsnow.com/story/15102587/i-team-felons-non-profit-goes-to-court

    Just in case anyone wants to know what I am talking about..

    Great name for a lawyer….Guinness

  255. Bob Balabooie says:

    Sounds like he is still scamming people again, my grandad was a Pan Am pilot caught in this scam. Lucky for him, he didn’t invest a lot of money, only $2000, can’t say that for his friends who lost nearly everything.

    You know the old saying….”Once a crook, always a crook”

    Barry, Dan…..do us all a favor, please put this dream to sleep…..It will never happen!

  256. Axelsarkis says:

    Apparently, Avatar wants to buy 4 (!) 747′s.

    An Airliners member gave this as the link, but since I’m not a member of this group and what not, I can’t see it…

    http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers…-1&trk=view_disc&ut=0eEJe4HoXL-AU1

    Anything from Dan?

  257. Warning Will Robinson says:

    He is at it again. Check this out.

    http://lasvegas.craigslist.org/bus/2707607305.html

    Trying to recruit MBA graduates to work for free. Unreal.

  258. Axelsarkis says:

    Don’t you need to pay to post a Craigslist work ad?

  259. Hondo says:

    Any work yet on Family Airlines or Avatar Airlines? Since it has been quiet for the last few months, wondered if anything has changed?

  260. Axelsarkis says:

    Looks like our favorite entrepreneur ‘Dr’ Barry is running for Congress again:

    http://www.michaelsforcongress.com/

    Quote from the ‘about me’ page:

    “…in ’04 I began to resurrect a vision I had more than ten years ago of starting a new generation airline and one that I?m hoping will make it maiden flight by the end of this year.”

  261. David SF eastbay says:

    Wow post number 312 on Family/Avatar Airlines. New article to read which includes mentions Brett. Let’s see if we can get more comments on 747′s flying between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. :-)

    http://airchive.com/blog/2014/03/11/another-start-up-airline-avatar-family-airlines-again/

  262. Axelsarkis says:

    I love this–take a look at the ‘media kit’.

    http://avatarairlines.com/AvatarMediapackage20Dec2014AA%5B1%5D.pdf

    Don’t miss the Photoshop jobs portraying potential sponsor vinyl wraps.

    I have a feeling that they’re going to be part of the new, “Dreamers’ Alliance”, made up of Family, American Western, Baltia, and that Pan Am cargo startup from a while back.

    • David SF eastbay says:

      I wonder if the 747 ebay is on was purchased on ebay?

      Maybe we can all chip in and have crankyflier.com put on one…..lol

      All kidding aside, it would be great to see them flying 747′s on those routes shown and see how it goes.

  263. David SF eastbay says:

    I wonder if the 747 ebay is on was purchased on ebay?

    Maybe we can all chip in and have crankyflier.com put on one…..lol

    All kidding aside, it would be great to see them flying 747′s on those routes shown and see how it goes.

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