When was the last time you said to yourself, “Hey, I sure wish there was an airline that served gumbo onboard”?
I’m just going to take a wild guess and say . . . never. Despite that, Air Gumbo has been in the works for quite a long time, and gumbo onboard is their big differentiator. In fact, they say they’re the only airline with “one frill service.”
Technically, this isn’t a joke, but I have a hard time believing it’s going to fly.
The amazing thing about these guys is their persistence. According to their website, they were founded on February 20, 1998. Now almost nine years later they aren’t anywhere near their first flight.
So what’s the business plan? Well it appears that they expect to fly between Louisiana cities (primarily from their New Orleans home base, but also Baton Rouge and Shreveport) and cities with 2,100 miles. Judging by the nifty circle they drew here, it looked like they were focusing on flights within North America on Bombardier regional jets, but in a press release on November 20, the airline said it will order the A330 for flights to Europe. Europe? Are you kidding me? I can’t imagine there’s enough demand for flights between New Orleans and Europe.
What other red flags are there here? Most entertaining of all is this press release from January 31, 2006. First, take a look at this quote from their excellently-named CEO Ralston Champagnie (seriously, that is an awesome name) describing why they are different from failed airline Independence Air:
â€œWe would serve the entire state of Louisiana with point-to-point air travel,
rather than offering point-to-point from a major metropolitan city.â€
How does this statement make any sense at all? They’ll serve a whole state instead of just a city where people are located en masse? Right.
Later, they go on and on about how flying regional jets is a lot cheaper than flying 737s. Well, duh. Smaller planes are cheaper to operate the bigger ones in general (there are exceptions). The problem is that the per seat cost is more for a regional jet, so they’ll have to charge higher fares than, oh, say Southwest. The justification for success is there at the bottom though . . .
“Latest trends indicate that regional airlines are very profitable.” It’s true, but they fail to note that these airlines are profitable because of the fixed fee arrangements these regional airlines have with major carriers. The risk falls on the major carrier while the regionals are guaranteed a small profit. These guys aren’t going to have that at all.
In the end, I’m just amazed that this idea is still around (and that they can still afford to pay for hosting their website). My guess it that the management team consists of CEO Champagnie and that’s about it. He’s just determined to get this airline off the ground, but he doesn’t seem to have the ability to get it past the imagination stage. That’s probably a good thing, because I just don’t see how this airline can be successful.
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