The Cranky Flier Interview #24 – Current Aviation CEO Brad Beakley

Landline, The Cranky Flier Interview

As we roll into Thanksgiving, how about an interview with the CEO of a brand new airline that has just come out of stealth mode? Say hello to Current Aviation.

I spoke with CEO Brad Beakley, former Vice President, Operations Control and Planning for US Airways until 2010 when he left for Sabre. Since then he’s spent time at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and TSA Solutions. And now, he’s ready to do his own thing.

Current won’t fly any airplanes, but instead let the regional partners do all the flying. It’s like if American Eagle existed and American Airlines didn’t fly any airplanes.

Confused? Don’t worry. I get into as much as I can with Brad on this half hour Cranky Flier Interview, presented by Ontario International Airport. It’s still early, so more details will come later.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving to all. I won’t be posted anything else this week, so look for the newest post to come on Monday after we all recover from our holiday stupor.

Download the episode here or listen below.

Thank you to our presenting sponsor Ontario International Airport.

Recently, ONT was honored by the Airports Council International with its distinguished Airport Health Accreditation, in recognition of Ontario’s unbending commitment to protect travelers, visitors and employees from health risks during these challenging times. From ONT’s use of powerful antimicrobial technology and enforcement of masks and social distancing to its opening of an on-site COVID testing clinic for passengers and the community, the airport has been a model for putting safety first.

Visit flyontario.com for more.

9 comments on “The Cranky Flier Interview #24 – Current Aviation CEO Brad Beakley

  1. This was an interesting podcast and I really enjoyed listening to it. I’m particularly fascinated with airline startups and while I hope the best for them, I do have a hard time seeing this being successful. What will they do that hasn’t already been tried by ExpressJet and Midwest Express 2.0? If I were a betting man, I’d guess they’ll announce ExpressJet as their initial partner (Brad mentioned to the E145) and they would seem the most willing of the current regionals to partner with something like this and we’ll see them operating out of places like MKE, IND, PIT, etc.

    1. Brad – I’d actually bet against ExpressJet. They are leasing the airplanes for aha! so they don’t have any lying around. I’d imagine airlines like SkyWest or Mesa would be good candidates since they have airplanes that aren’t doing anything.

  2. I’m still waiting to hear the interview with Barry Michaels from Avatar. I’d pay for that interview.

  3. So you have Frontier for point to point sub-daily with A320/321s, Avelo for point to point sub-daily with 737s, Allegiant for point to point sub-daily with 319/320s, Breeze for point to point sub-daily with E90/95s and 220s, aha for point to point sub-daily with E45s but specifically out of Reno…and now Current, albeit without their own planes, for point to point with E45s-E75s (and CR2/7/9s).

    And of those everyone but Frontier (and Breeze for 220s) has “cheap planes” as a key part of their business model.

    Current feels almost like the supply.side of Uber, but for airlines. Demand side looks a little different but the analogy fits if you think of the Big 3 as traditional taxi companies.

    Seems like the 400 routes mentioned would be somewhere between the size of aha and of Breeze…probably really close to Breeze’s Embraer routes because Current would run at higher frequency on smaller aircraft.

    One other interesting thing is, for the 76-passenger side, Current could have regionals pack seats in more tightly since there are no scope clauses to worry about, so you’d get 80-84 pax on an E75. Which at daily service levels would be head to head with Breeze.

    1. Just finished listening. 2-3x/day is…aggressive. We’re talking about markets with enough PDEW (60-70 minimum?) that Frontier could move in, depending on traffic mix. But maybe Current makes it work because they’ll be able to get a higher traffic share than what Frontier can at 2x/wk, and there’s some room pricing wise when you’re comparing with Frontier’s base fare plus a carry-on plus a decent seat.

      And maybe those markets are the equivalents of what AA is serving on E75s out of AUS…just not in AUS. AA has some dots on the map that they want to serve but there are plenty that they’re bypassing, so maybe this model does work, though I’d expect a bunch of $79 one-ways to prime the pump.

  4. Excellent, a usual.

    But, Hello! As an airline-service consumer, the service I am buying is air transportation. I have the belief that if a company wishes to market air transportation representing itself as an airline, the transportation should be rendered under its own name, with its own or controlled aircraft, piloted by its own employees or those it fully controls.

    Short of that, it is not an airline, but a marketing company, or a branding company, or an agent of someone else. To me, when an airline like UA farms out transportation on more than half of its flights to some other airline or DOT-approved air transportation company, it forfeits its ability to say it is airline. DOT, please do your job!

    What Current seems to be proposing is taking this to the extreme. Companies can do whatever they want. Just be honest about it and not try have me believe that they are airlines.

    1. One could make the same argument about branded/franchised hotels and restaurants.

      If you eat at a chain fast food restaurant or stay in a chain hotel in the US, odds are good that you’re not patronizing Hilton or McDonald’s directly, but rather a franchisee that has an agreement with them.

      More directly, the same applies to regionals operating for the big guys (SkyWest and Mesa, sold under the big airlines’ brand), and even to bus lines operating services for Greyhound.

  5. I hope Brett and everyone who reads this blog has a wonderful start to the holidays with your families.

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