Over the years I’ve had some interesting conversations with airline executives. I’d argue some of the most interesting conversations have been with those leading airlines that don’t actually exist.
My Most Interesting Airline “Conversation” Ever
One of the most interesting conversations I’ve had was just over two years ago when I got a call from Baltia’s VP of Corporate Communications.
For those of you not familiar with Baltia, they claimed they would start operations shortly for nearly 30 years, all while taking money from investors. They clearly never had the intention of operating any flights.
What was so bizarre about my conversation was that I was talking to a guy who had spent over 40 years of his career at British Airways, and he seemed absolutely convinced that he was working for a legitimate company. He just couldn’t wrap his head around why I was giving them such a hard time.
Well, a couple of weeks ago I had my second most interesting conversation with an airline executive… if you can call him that.
My Conversation With Global Ghana Airlines Founder
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how Global Ghana Airlines has started selling tickets between Chicago and Accra for travel as of October 16, 2019. For those of you not familiar with GGA, what’s wrong with you?!
GGA plans to operate flights nonstop between Chicago and Accra. They’ve been talking about doing this for years, but now they finally put tickets on sale. There’s just one small problem — they don’t have an operating license and they don’t have a plane.
They do have this incredibly well produced video, though:
Anyway, I tried to book a seat on the inaugural flight, but I got an error message. So I emailed GGA, and I received a response that included the following:
Also, Mr. O’Toole is interested in having a phone conversation with you at your earliest convenience.
It takes a lot to get me on the phone, but naturally I was starstruck and had to have this conversation. So I phoned up Mr. O’Toole, who attended the very exclusive Aeronautics Institute of Chicago (it’s so exclusive that you can’t even find anything about it online).
So, how was our conversation? He was a very nice guy, and he sounded incredibly genuine. Frankly that made things harder, since I almost felt bad being honest. Essentially he expressed disappointment in me (and the quotation marks below are intentional):
- He said that GGA “flights” are absolutely launching in October
- He said that he’d be happy to answer any questions, but they’d go through his “lawyer”
- He’s sad about the negative things I say about the company not because it hurts him, but because it hurts his “employees”
- He invited me to meet him sometime in Chicago, which I’d love to do
I emailed him a few questions the second we got off the phone, and he said he’d have a response in no time. I didn’t want to get too critical (and ask him about his education, etc.), so I submitted the following questions:
- Initially do you plan on operating your own flights from Chicago to Accra, or will they be operated on a wet lease basis? If it’s a wet lease, who are you leasing from, and if it’s your own plane, what kind of a plane will it be, and where is it coming from?
- Have you secured permission from the FAA to operate these flights?
- In past interviews you talked about how one roadblock was that you hired “low altitude” flight attendants rather than “high altitude” flight attendants. Could you clarify on the distinction there?
- Since these are being advertised as charter flights, do you have big groups you’ve already sold seats to, or how do you plan on making these flights work, given that they launch in weeks?
- You were supposed to initially launch flights last October. What went wrong that prevented that from happening?
I didn’t hear back after a week, so I followed up again. He responded by saying “your request has been forward to my attorney awaiting response.” It has now been two weeks, and I still haven’t heard.
I heard from a blog reader who also had a conversation with Mr. O’Toole, and he was told some interesting things:
- He was invited to the “media briefing” about the airline this month, which will be held at the Radisson Chicago Midway Airport
- The plane will allegedly be leased from HiFly (I reached out to them to ask if that’s true, but haven’t heard back)
I’ve told Mr. O’Toole I’d love to do a Facebook Live with him to give him the opportunity to express his perspective on things, if he feels I’m being unfair towards him. He rejected that offer.
Meanwhile I’m still trying to book my seat on the inaugural flight, and am getting error messages…