Everything about an all-business class, trans-Atlantic airline screams 2004, with the exception of the crow-funding bit. That, frankly, doesn't make us any more optimistic.
Odyssey Airlines wants the crowd to fund their business ambitions, announcing on April 30 that they intend to use Crowdcube to raise the nearly $8.5 million it needs to “enter the next phase of development,” which will help their business-only airline concept to fly.
The airline expects to have raised sufficient funds by July of this year, to supplement funding they’ve already raised, including and an additional $3.7 million raised via a peer to peer loan from the ThinCats platform coordinated by Freedman & Partners in 2013, and a “significant institutional raise scheduled for the first half of 2015–some 12 months ahead of Odyssey commencing operations from London City Airport.”
The airline intends to provide the only non-stop Business Class only transatlantic services from London City in 2016. According to the recent announcement, Odyssey will fly the new Bombardier C-series airline configured with 40 fully flat seats and serving destinations in North America, the Middle East and elsewhere in Europe within eight hours flying time from London.
Some traditional carriers have also played with the concept of a Business-only service this year.
SAS announced this April that they will launch dedicated business-only flights between Stavanger and Houston, targeted at Norway’s Oil Industry executives, via a wet-leasing service from PrivateAir this August. SAS through PrivateAir will serve this route on a Boeing 737-700, and seat 44 business class passengers.
Qatar Airways also announced this February that they will provide an all Business Class service between Doha and London Heathrow, with 35 to 42 weekly flights, on a single aisle Airbus A319, accommodating 40 passengers in a 2-2 seating configuration. That service will commence this May 15.
While these Business-only routes established by SAS and Doha are clearly targetted at a specific customer base, their ultimate success as a business model is yet to be proven. But the risks are run by the airlines themselves, and backed by their stockholders. For either airline cancelling service, if it proves unviable, may be a set-back but will not significantly affect their businesses. Unprofitable routes are cancelled all the time by major carriers.
Odyssey, however, is basing its entire future on the viability of this business model, while uniquely distributing the risk among their private venture investors funds and the “crowd.”
For his part, Adam Scott, CEO of Odyssey, and a former Goldman Sachs banker says:
“By using an online crowd funding platform we are offering an investment that is accessible to a large and diverse number of potential investors.”
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Photo credit: Rendering of an Odyssey plane leaving London City Airport. Odyssey Airlines