Remember that story about the 18 year old who wanted to start a German airline to compete with Lufthansa, and claimed to have plans to launch before the end of 2023? Well, as it turns out, he’s allegedly not even 18… but he is serious, in the sense that this wasn’t some school project. Now he’s facing fraud allegations by his business partners, among others.
Over the years we’ve seen quite a few stories about fake airlines, but perhaps aside from Baltia, this has to be the wildest one yet. This whole thing sounds like the plot of a movie I’d totally watch.
The basics of Bavarian Airlines
In January 2023, details were revealed about Bavarian Airlines, an alleged airline startup in Germany that wanted to compete with Lufthansa. According to the details at the time, the company was founded by an 18 year old, and was planning to launch operations before the end of 2023 using leased Embraer E195-E2 aircraft
The claim was that the airline would have a proper business class product, cryptocurrency as its loyalty program, and that it was already awaiting its AOC (Air Operator Certificate).
I wouldn’t have written about this, except for the fact that the mainstream media in German was picking up on this and taking the founder’s claims at face value, approaching it with no skepticism at all. So I felt like it was only fair to write a post expressing skepticism about this concept.
Frankly I was expecting that we just wouldn’t hear much more about the concept, and that of course this would never become a reality. Boy was I wrong. Not about this not becoming a real airline, but about the details that are now coming out.
Bavarian Airlines founder accused of countless fraud
A detailed exposé has just been published in Germany about the founder of Bavarian Airlines, and it includes allegations that he lied about his age, has fake businesses, has not paid back huge sums of money, is engaged in crypto scams, and has presented fake bank documents.
I don’t even want to write the guy’s name in this post, because I almost feel bad (not quite, but almost!), as he’s allegedly 15. Obviously he’s a bright kid (or else he wouldn’t have been able to convince others to support him in this way), and I don’t want to ruin his life more than he already has.
There’s so much to unpack here, so let me just hit on some of the highlights…
First of all, apparently the founder is 15, and not 18. A business partner showed the investigative journalist the kid’s ID after he became suspicious of what was going on. Furthermore, one of the kid’s many LinkedIn profiles shows he will graduate high school in 2026. Further, in 2018 he was enrolled in a taekwondo school for 10 to 12 year olds. The kid rejects these claims, but also refuses to show ID.
Next, the kid showed documents that he has three million Swiss francs in his business account, but claimed the account was frozen. Therefore he asked an investor to finance around 45,000 euro worth of flights, hotel stays, and business dinners, which haven’t yet been paid back. He found out that the kid owes other people 120,000 euro, for things including consulting, PR, and security. It was later determined that these bank statements were fake. The kid now claims he never showed anyone bank statements.
This investor also financed a meeting that took place in Malta with Universal Airlines. The plan was for Bavarian Airlines to wet lease aircraft from the carrier, and essentially start as a virtual airline. Universal Airlines allegedly billed 300,000 euro for launching this partnership, which has yet to be paid. The kid claims the bill was paid.
A real estate agent also claims to have been defrauded by the kid. He apparently wanted to buy a roughly three million euro apartment in Frankfurt and entered into a deal, but never paid. The agent lost out on a 100,000 euro commission, and was stuck with bills related to the transaction. The kid claims he already made a payment of one million euro.
The kid was reportedly detailed by the police at Düsseldorf Airport a few days ago. According to his former business partner, this was related to establishing his identity documents. He was later released. I imagine he has some major legal trouble coming his way.
Look, there’s so much more to the story, and I could go on and on, but what’s the point really?
What a story…
First of all, obviously this kid is really convincing and intelligent, or else he wouldn’t have gotten so much support from investors. It’s sad that he’s ruining his life in this way at such a young age, since he’s not even an adult. It seems he’s just digging himself deeper and deeper.
While I have some sympathy for the victims here, is it wrong that I don’t actually feel that bad? I mean, did no one do the slightest bit of research before throwing money at this idea?
It sounds like this isn’t that different than giving your information to scammers on the phone. However, I think the people who are victims here aren’t necessarily as vulnerable as the seniors that are typically targeted in phone scams. They all wanted to get involved in the business and make money, and didn’t do their due diligence.
Look, it was pretty obvious to me from the beginning that Bavarian Airlines was suspicious. But it’s way, way, way more shocking than I could have expected. Research into the company reveals that the person behind it is just 15 years old, and owes a lot of money to a lot of people.
I still can’t believe how little research anyone did, from the mainstream media in Germany that covered the airline concept at face value, to the investors.
By the way, following the story I wrote, this kid sent me an email accusing me of being unprofessional, and sending me a few documents. Maybe I should post those here, since I imagine they were doctored as well?
What do you make of this Bavarian Airlines update?