New Gatwick to US airline pledges to make every passenger ‘feel like a million dollars’

Passengers are 'sick and tired' of their treatment, according to the founder of Global Airlines

Global Airlines is aiming to begin flights from Gatwick to New York JFK by the spring of 2024. PA / Global Airlines
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The founder of a new UK transatlantic airline has pledged to make all passengers “feel like a million dollars”.

By the middle of next year, Global Airlines will operate services between London Gatwick and New York JFK, before launching flights between Gatwick and Los Angeles.

The airline's founder and chief executive James Asquith, who created travel company Holiday Swap, said he has received “thousands of emails and messages” from people keen to fly on his airline.

“People are sick and tired of the service they get on current airlines. We will be better," said Mr Asquith, 34.

“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.”

He said the quality of food and drinks on Global Airlines aircraft will be “the best” of all transatlantic services.

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 be driven by chauffeurs to airports and have a “proper social space” onboard planes, Mr Asquith said.

“Having a strong product in first class should filter down to economy, and make people in economy feel like a million dollars,” he said.

Gatwick Airport through the years - in pictures

Mr Asquith said Global Airlines will be able to offer fares that 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 that 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 Holiday Swap Group and external investors, who he did not name.

The airline plans to have between 15 and 20 planes over the next two years, and “expand pretty aggressively from there”, he said.

“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 other airlines operating flights between London and New York, such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and 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.

“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.

“I wish the team luck but I’d counsel caution," Mr Strickland said.

“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 said.

Updated: August 07, 2023, 3:31 AM