Startup UK airline in bid to raise GCC funds

Startup UK airline in bid to raise GCC funds
Published: 16 July 2017 - 2:26 p.m.
By: Shayan Shakeel

Fledgling UK-based airline Firnas Airways has launched an equity crowd-funding campaign targeting Gulf-based investors.

The airline, plans to introduce short-haul services between the UK and select European destinations in 2018, and is seeking up to $1.29 million in capital raised via, the global equity crowdfunding platform headquartered in Dubai.

The investment target, if met, would be the largest capital round raised to date on the platform.

The planned airline’s founder and CEO, Kazi Shafiqur Rahman, says he is confident GCC investors will recognise the potential of the airline.

“We have identified several short-haul routes with strong, currently unmet demand that we feel offer huge potential for growth,” he said in a statement. “We will offer passengers unique services on the ground and in the air, which will position our offering between the austere budget operators and the expensive full-service carriers that charge for extras many passengers don't require. Our vision is to offer an alternative that is affordable, flexible, comfortable and innovative."

Rahman says the equity crowd-funding initiative provides savvy Gulf investors with the rare opportunity to gain a lucrative foothold in the UK’s booming commercial aviation sector on the eve of the country’s withdrawal from the European Union.

“We, like many within the UK business community, view Brexit as a chance to rethink our approach to international trade and investment, and to pursue new business opportunities unshackled by the restrictions imposed by the EU,” he said.

“With sterling trading at historic lows, the equity funding scheme offers GCC investors a unique opportunity to claim a stake in the UK’s newest airline while gaining unprecedented value on their investment.”

Firnas Airways is being planned to launch with a fleet of 19-seater aircraft, “to build the required infrastructure to successfully operate with minimal capital outlay,” says Rahman.

Initial flight plans will focus primarily in Northern Europe that promise high load factors and strong returns. High-volume routes up to six hours’ flying time from the UK will spearhead the airline’s second phase international expansion strategy.

“We are confident these routes will provide a strong platform for long-term growth,” said Rahman. “We have a credible business plan focusing on unmet demand with a target of 300-500 percent ROI within five years.”

Long term, Firnas Airways intends to launch long-haul operations to destinations in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, with a proposition to compete with the UK’s established long-haul, full-service carriers, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.

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