The founder of a new UK airline aiming to fly between London and New York within a year has claimed transatlantic passengers are ‘sick and tired’ of their treatment.
Global Airlines is aiming to begin operating between Gatwick Airport and JFK by the middle of next year, before launching flights between Gatwick and Los Angeles.
British founder and chief executive James Asquith, who also created travel company Holiday Swap, said he has received ‘thousands of emails and messages’ from people keen to fly on his airline – and pledged to make customers ‘feel like a million dollars’.
In an interview with the PA news agency, Mr Asquith said: ‘People are sick and tired of the service they get on current airlines. We will be better. People have had enough with how they are treated. Consistently there are devaluations in loyalty platforms.
‘There are people in management and shareholders that will over-reward themselves. I want to primarily build a legacy. I’d rather walk away with zero (money) and have something that people genuinely love.’
Global Airlines founder and chief executive James Asquith wants to launch flights next year
James Asquith with his fiancee, influencer and former flight attendant Robyn Ferguson
James Asquith and Robyn Ferguson, pictured at the luxurious Athens hotel King George
The 34-year-old said the quality of food and drinks on Global Airlines aircraft will be ‘the best’ across all transatlantic services.
How James Asquith became the youngest person to visit every country in the world
James Asquith is a prominent social media personality and was an early travel influencer who became notable in 2013 as the youngest person to travel to every country in the world, aged 24.
The globetrotter is no stranger to first-class travel himself, regularly sharing snaps of himself and his fiancee, Scottish influencer and former flight attendant Robyn Ferguson, on luxurious holidays around the world.
Born in Cuckfield, West Sussex, and the son of a pilot and PA, Asquith was washing cars on his road aged 12 and saved up the money he made before working three jobs as a teenager.
He went on to study at the London School of Economics and invested his savings during his studies to buy a house, which he said later fell through after his shares went down.
After graduating, he worked at HSBC and managed to get enough leave to pursue his dream of visiting every country in the world.
In 2013, Asquith became in the youngest person to travel to all 196 sovereign countries in the world, breaking the record in Micronesia aged 24 years and 192 days old.
He visited his first country outside of the UK, Lithuania, in May 2001, and then every other country between 4 July 2008 and 8 July 2013. He said his travels cost him around £125,000.
His time travelling inspired him to found Holiday Swap, an app which allows users to swap accommodation by matching up with anyone around the world, in 2018.
The airline, which will be based at Gatwick, will serve Laurent-Perrier champagne on its flights, and hopes to even offer passengers in economy cabins a free glass, depending on costs.
First class ticket holders will benefit from being chauffeur driven to airports and having a ‘proper social space’ onboard planes, Mr Asquith revealed.
‘Having a strong product in first class should filter down to economy, and make people in economy feel like a million dollars,’ he claimed.
Mr Asquith said Global Airlines will be able to offer fares which are ‘in line with, if not cheaper’ than those set by other carriers because of how it is obtaining its aircraft.
Agreeing to acquire four previously-used Airbus A380s at reduced prices means the company does not have lease agreements and bonds ‘hanging over our heads’, he said.
Mr Asquith, who previously spent more than eight years working in investment banking, said too many new airlines quickly take on large debts which are often their ‘first nail in the coffin’.
Carriers which have failed to make a success of transatlantic flights include Norwegian, Wow Air and Primera Air.
Mr Asquith said Global Airlines is being funded by a combination of Holiday Swap Group and external investors, who he did not name.
The airline plans to have 15 to 20 planes over the next two years and ‘expand pretty aggressively from there’, he explained.
‘There are a lot more destinations and routes that we want to serve.’
Mr Asquith insisted he is not concerned by having to compete with a number of other airlines operating flights between London and New York, such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and several US-based carriers.
‘I don’t think more flights and more carriers equals more competition,’ he said. ‘I actually just see that as more demand and supply on the route, which makes it easier to stand out if you have a better product.’
Mr Asquith is a prominent social media personality and in 2013 became the youngest person to travel to every country in the world, aged 24.
Launching an airline has been his ‘ultimate dream’ since he was eight years old, he said. ‘If it takes me until the last day of my life, we’ll get there.
James Asquith became the youngest person to travel to every country in the world, in 2013
James Asquith is a prominent social media personality who is behind the new Global Airlines
‘I got told by everyone, including my parents, that going to every country in the world was madness, it would never happen.
‘I’ve been told that throughout my entire life, for everything I’ve done. There is not a single part of me that thinks Global Airlines won’t get off the ground.
‘It would be letting down the tens of thousands of people that have reached out and are desperate to fly with us.’
Aviation consultant John Strickland warned that Global Airlines faces significant challenges. He said: ‘I wish the team luck but I’d counsel caution.
Global Airlines founder James Asquith wants to begin operating between Gatwick and JFK
Global Airlines has four jumbo jets and hopes to take on airlines on the transatlantic route
‘In my 40 years in the industry I’ve worked on planning North Atlantic routes for a number of airlines, and the reality is that the market has the potential to be a goldmine or a graveyard.
‘Relying primarily on price sensitive traffic inevitably means high risk. Not only will people move for a better price but the market is structurally seasonal, making winter months particularly challenging.’
He said that the decision to use A380s – which is the world’s largest airliner – raises ‘a number of questions’.
The planes have ‘a lot of capacity to fill’ and high operating costs, and there is ‘uncertainty’ over the availability of spare parts and maintenance support due to the model being out of production, Mr Strickland added.