Judah 1: The World’s First Christian Airline

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Over the years we’ve seen a few religious airlines emerge. They’ve almost all failed. The reason they’ve failed seems obvious enough — most religious people don’t have needs so specific that it’s worth tailoring an airline to them while alienating a large percent of your potential customer base.

So while we’ve seen some religious airline startups, we haven’t yet seen a Christian one (unless we’re talking about all the prosperity gospel ministers with private jets). Well, it looks like that’s changing.

Texas-based Judah 1 is hoping to become the world’s first Christian airline. Their slogan is “Your Hands, God’s LOVE, Our Wings.”

While the airline had previously applied to be a private operator, they’ve changed their application with the FAA to instead become a Part 121 operator, meaning they’ll be able to offer commercial service.

As they describe it, this means that Judah 1 will “have the freedom to transport as many different churches and mission organizations as [they] can.”

The hope is that the airline will get necessary approvals by summer 2019 so that they can then start commercial operations. This airline, based at North Texas Regional Airport, has some really lofty goals.

They already have one MD-80 that’s undergoing C-checks, and then as soon as they get their certification they say that they have four additional MD-80s they’ll take delivery of immediately, plus two 767s. In the next five years, Judah 1 hopes to have 20 planes.

What’s going to set them apart? They won’t charge luggage fees. Per the CEO:

“We will have to charge regular ticket prices just like you do for the [other] airlines. This is not available for just the general public, you have to be part of a mission team. It will be very competitive with the airlines. The advantage is there’s no luggage fees. Absolutely none. All your cargo travels with you as well. So that’s the biggest thing.

About 50 percent of missionaries lose their cargo when it travels via container and that’s one of the problems we have. I know some of the trips we have been on ourselves with other missionary groups traveling, they ship their stuff via container and medical supplies and stuff either get tied up in customs, food spoils, some things it just gets lost.”

I also have a lot of questions about their plan. For example, they say this:

“The airline has made it its mission to spread the message of the Lord to billions of people, via flight.”

The CEO also said this:

“The Lord spoke to me about using my passion for aviation – specifically large aircraft, I saw rows and rows of aircraft, full of food and supplies, lines of them.”

But they’re only going to operate domestic flights for now?

“At this stage, there are no plans to expand the airline internationally.”

They might be a little bit confused about the population of the US, if so…

Here’s a video they published in 2015 (this was when they were trying to just be a private operator, rather than a commercial one):

So if this airline does get approved, it sounds like they’ll primarily offer charter service, and perhaps even scheduled chartered service, where different mission and church groups can book the same flight.

On the legitimacy scale, I can’t decide where exactly between Baltia and Air Belgium this falls…

  1. Ben – do you think that Creflo Dollar, that guy who wanted a Gulfstream G650, so that he could transport more cargo than the plane even weighed, may have something to do with this ?

  2. hmmm….used and well worn aircraft and discrimination with a side of pretzels and a full can of soda? No thanks.

  3. It’s been tried before. The Lord’s Airline. They had a DC8-52. Gave it a go around 1985-1987. It ended predictably, which is to say, in a shutdown.

  4. Only the most modern equipment for Missionary Air, MD-80’s and 767’s. These simple old planes for the true believers contrast sharply with the lavish televangelist air ops:
    “Well, Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing planes were transporting diamond-mining equipment for the African Development Corporation, a Robertson-owned venture initiated with the cooperation of Mobutu Sese Seko—the Congolese dictator who paid for lobbying to seek entry into the US. Virginia’s consumer affairs office found that Pat Robertson “willfully induced contributions from the public through the use of misleading statements” secretly using funds for cargo planes to aid refugees from Rwanda to transport diamond-mining equipment for his business venture.” etc

    And of course there are plenty of news stories about other televangelists and their e.g. $54 million private aircraft

    We wish Judah 1 well. And hopefully they’ll be open-minded and also offer kosher and halal meals.

  5. It’s been tried before. The Lord’s Airline. Gave it a go around 1985-1987 flying a DC8-52. It ended predictably, which is to say, by shutting down.

  6. Can we please see the full OMAAT Legitimacy scale? I think you need to make that official and rank every new start-up that you write about on the scale. High potential for the acerbic humor we all enjoy so much on this blog.

  7. If the airline even gets off the ground, I promise you all 100%, that I will bring aboard satanic themed baggage and clothing.

    They are a common carrier, soooo

  8. Okay @Ben, at this point I really have to ask couple of questions about the future of this blog.
    I understand that you need to fill in space from time to time with some funny non aviation-related, non frequent-flyer related news (which is kind of what initially set this blog apart) but lately these kind of articles seemed to have become a norm. Are you trying to tell me that news about express restaurant and chicken takeaway from earlier today is more important than i.e. couple of new lounges that opened/renovated in Europe in the last month?
    At the same time aviation related topics seem to be getting more and more US/AU oriented. I do understand that’s where you guys are from but if you are running a global-oriented blog you cannot tell me that launch of a random US route is more important than (and these are only announcements from today) – Budapest being the first destination where FlyDubai will complement Emirates (covering bank that EK was missing) or SQ launching additional A380 frequency to LHR, etc… There are actually interesting route launches from non-US airlines daily but that somehow gets minimal attention.
    I feel the need to mention this since I can clearly feel the difference in content (and content quality) year and a half ago and now. It used be pretty much globally oriented (covering major news from all continents), factual (I think at some point this blog was my first point of information for industry-related news) with pretty interesting and always-different reviews and now it seems that it goes like this: Some random (usually roll-eye) aviation non-related topic, route launch in US or Australia (with a unnaturally big attention to BA as well), generic reviews, complaining about AA…

    Don’t get wrong, it’s your blog – you get to do whatever you want with it, I am just wondering is this gradual decline in quality something you noticed or not…

  9. @Michael Lyons

    It’s been tried before. Xenu Gave it a go around 70 million years ago flying a DC8. It ended predictably, which is to say, by South Park?

  10. I think this could work. The savings in catering alone could finance it. One fish, one loaf of bread, and a bottle of wine.

  11. Why not save convert all of the expenditure and capital required to ferry people/goods to providing monetary aid for the local NGOs ? Religious organizations still operate on the principle that we live in the 1200s….

  12. Will we be able to transfer UR points to their frequent flyer program? Will they have a spend requirement for elite status? Co-branded credit card not subject to 5/24?

  13. Goody, some other delusional religionist claiming that their imaginary sky fairy friend “spoke to them”.

    Who in their right mind would be part of an organisation with a CEO who is demonstrably mentally ill and/or delusional?

  14. So, coming from the south and growing up in a religious family I actually can totally see how there might be a true market for this. The concept in the no baggage fees is not just about your two standard bags, it’s about a cargo load worth of bibles and/or supplies that you intend to travel with.

    Big missionary groups are a common thing for your standard southern mega-church and I can see them jumping on this type of setup if it means a direct flight to a third-world area that it would be hard to get 30-100 people to and they can get all of their cargo there.

    If I were to bet, I would bet it would fail, but, this is no Baltia – there is at least the appearance of a market for this.

  15. Lucky. This is a premium blog. Stick with that. Oh wait! You need to fill spaces with junks like this and not PE?

  16. I want to create a competing airline “Judas 1”. Our slogan: “when we lose your luggage, you can treat it as a betrayal.”

  17. Missionaries are some of the most delusional people on the planet. At least radical Islamists fight for the cause of protesting western neo-colonialist meddling in their countries’ politics. Christian missionaries do deranged stuff like this for no reason other than the fact that they have some crazy belief in a magical sky fairy and they think that everyone who doesn’t share this belief should go to hell. Christianity is truly a mental illness.

  18. Always fun to see all the religi-phobes in your audience that these types of Christian-related posts bring out. lol

  19. @Ray – Yes! So much more laudable and respectable to behead innocent victims than derangely want to go around feeding and helping the poor. Imagine if the whole world had that type of mental illness. Nobody would be hungry and no wars. Outrageous! (speaking of mental illness…)

  20. Interesting to say the least. When I have gone on mission trips, we have flown commercial (economy ;p ) even if we had 30+ people going. It depends on where the airline would start flying from if they want to sustain because I think a lot of people going on mission trips would just fly commercial rather than have to fly (or drive a longer distance) to an airport that has these planes.

  21. If they offer free unlimited wine to honor the water to wine miracle, they’d likely have some pretty full flights.

  22. It’s a flawed business plan, even if just for the charters. It’s expensive to run a small fleet and this provides little to the faithful other than a means to get from Point A to Point B. Clearly, in today’s world, there are plenty of inexpensive air travel options that would satisfy this very small market segment and probably be able to do it better and cheaper. Doomed before it gets off the ground.

  23. 1) I could see them flying the 767 at least 2-3 days per week to Israel from different US cities
    2) If they appealed to Roman Catholics there are all sorts of destinations they could fly both within North America on the MDs and internationally on the 767 for pilgrammes. Folks underestimate religious tourism—it’s huge.
    3) From April-Oct they could probably fly at least once a week with the 767 to Spain for the Camino de Santiago.
    4) The MDs could be used to connect to the 767.

  24. Nate – Give it a rest. This is NOT a premium blog, so stop claiming it is then throwing hissy fits because it’s not premium enough.

    And to Networkplanner as well – this blog has always covered pieces like this, and I can’t say I’ve noticed it increase by much over the years. I think you two just don’t pay attention… I for one find this FAR more interesting than a second A380 to London…

  25. @networkplanner if you think you can do this blog better than go start one. It’s easy to sit in your desk chair in Europe and whinge on your keyboard about the fact there’s an aviation blog that reports on news all over the world including places like Australia. But guess what, there are readers of this blog from Australia too. Lots of us. The world doesn’t revolve around Europe and the garbage low cost Airlines you peasants fly on over there for an hour here and an hour there. Zzzzz

  26. I am all in favor of helping people and going on missions (I have done them myself), but I think there is going to lot of cost overhead. Like the article, I can see them as a charter, but not a regular commercial like Delta or even Allegiant.

  27. It’s too bad Hooters Air failed some years back. Would have been a hoot watching the two of them compete on routes.

  28. This actually sounds like a great idea. There are countless missions trips every year, why not have a specific airline just for that? Sounds great!

  29. It is interesting to note that over time the AVERAGE blog reader, also like FACEBOOK posts, etc. will rally around the negative when it has to do with Christianity, including the authors. I agree that this is a questionable proposed airline but do we need to have so many posts to come out and hit on Christianity or joke about it’s theology? I imagine if this were a non-Christian airline the posts would be supportive and any naysayer would find themselves crucified against the blog page in negative posts. Come on readers, is it really necessary to vent your religious anger here or voice your personal opinions on faith? This is a travelers blog! The subject was just bait from Lucky and most of you bit.

  30. I agree 110% with @Ray’s comments above. American (so-called) Christians are the most un-Christian people on the entire planet.
    I hope this new airline’s first flight bursts into flames and crashes in a fireball, preferably on one of their whacko churches.

  31. Waiting for Bakr al-Bakr to commence….(ready for it?)….Jihad-1…..no luggage fees…AND lie flie seats.

  32. Marketing religion in the airline business, even when it’s not the branding itself, is tricky. As Alaska Airlines’ former CEO and president wrote to customers in 2012 when the airline stopped offering prayer cards on meal trays (a concept that originated with Continental), “Some of you enjoy the cards and associate them with our service. At the same time, we’ve heard from many of you who believe religion is inappropriate on an airplane.” The prayer cards were also creepy–perhaps suggesting that everyone should pray there’s no crash. OK, maybe move that message to the safety card on some airlines….

  33. The only benefit to this airline is no baggage fees
    Which will sink them (financially and aeronautically)

    I brought 300+ pounds of supplies to my medical relief trip in 1997
    (Sent separately from my passenger flight)

    Imagine a missionary team, 30-100 people. Each with hundreds of pounds of supplies/donations

  34. I think they are trying to fill a need they’ve observed (e.g., containers with medical supplies not arriving on mission trips, etc.). Good for them. I hope it succeeds.

  35. @Michael +1.

    Mind blowing to see people defending radical Islamism as the protagonist in today’s iteration of the ongoing Marxist dialectic. We’ve apparently learned nothing since 1989. SMH.

    Interesting how not quite as much is said against the Middle Eastern airlines which openly broadcast difficult-to-ignore Islamic travel prayers.

  36. SFO-FF,

    You said, “Big missionary groups are a common thing for your standard southern mega-church and I can see them jumping on this type of setup if it means a direct flight to a third-world area that it would be hard to get 30-100 people to and they can get all of their cargo there.”

    But they aren’t planning to fly internationally!

  37. I totally agree with NetworkPlanner!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and concerns. You aren’t the only one feeling the content quality dropping over the span of a year or two.

  38. Just what we need – mixing up cultish medieval superstition (aka religion) with the airline industry !

  39. why would missionary trips within the us be neccessary? granted that they are one of the largest economies in the world wouldnt it be more sensible to expand internationally to destinations that actually need help? (not that i agree with the missionaries’ way of helping but it would be a smarter business choice)

  40. Their statement makes no sense. 50% cargo of missionaries lost? Really? Probably not in US. And they will fly domestically. Usually i thought missionaries go little further then within US so this argument is weird and i doubt old MD-80 will reach all those exotic destinations where the missionaries will be heading.

  41. No flights on a Sunday then as that’s the lords day and the day of rest.

    They say a fool and his money are soon parted (like the Red Sea?) in this case it will be quicker then most before they try to write it off as a tax loss!

  42. Callum, sweetheart, unlike others here does my income not depend on successful referrals and clicks.

    Therefore I don’t have to sell anyone quality contents online and can still fly paid first class at any given time.

    Peace and love for you

  43. @Endre: You should start your own blog.
    All about your paid first class tickets, your 8h layover at your loved The Wing in HKG, and everything you know we all love so much about you.
    Can’t wait to not start following it.

  44. “And to Networkplanner as well – this blog has always covered pieces like this, and I can’t say I’ve noticed it increase by much over the years. I think you two just don’t pay attention… I for one find this FAR more interesting than a second A380 to London…”


  45. Wow, some of the comments on here are beyond belief. So much anti Christian hate and bigotry. This airline exemplifies why half of the country is not compatible with the other. We’d all be happier if each group had its own countries and own space to have a society they want according to self determination. The U.S. is just too big and has too many different groups whether racial, ethnic, religious, political, ideological, etc. for anyone to be happy. We are all tying each other down and holding back happiness.

    Regarding the Christian missionaries, yes, they mostly are wasting their effort and resources. They ought to focus on raising their own families and building their own communities and network for the likeminded instead of traveling 5000 miles away or 300 miles away providing artificial assistance that doesn’t help but guarantees dependence. Think sending clothes to Africa is great. It’s not. The textile industry in subsahara Africa has declined by 50% in the last 30 years taking away a lot of jobs that could have allowed many to be self supporting. And then with food and other temporary aid from the West people have more kids than they otherwise could afford and they grown up without jobs, dependent on aid and often turn to violence. The missionaries are better off spending their time and money raising happy families (good food, international travel, nice homes, etc) and being productive at home.

  46. I’m a missionary serving in China. For that reason, I’m posting this anonymously (it’s illegal to be a missionary in China). I’d love for this to be a “thing.” But the problem we face is we pack up all of our belongings into a few 50 pound suitcases and move ABROAD. Many airlines still give us free bags for those flights. When not using points and miles, we usually fly Southwest if we’re in the States (with young kids, we can board early enough to sit together still). I can’t imagine these flights being any cheaper. Taking more bags would be nice, but then we’d have the problem of transporting them to and from the airport. That seemed to be the approach they were gearing towards, till the mention that they were going to focus on domestic flights. Other than whenever there’s a flood of people rushing to help out with hurricane relief, when is there going to be demand? But I can’t imagine them having big enough planes to pull off long flights that would be full enough to be profitable. Another niche market would be seasonal flights transporting the “missionaries” in China to conferences in Thailand each February.

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