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.