What Is Baltia Air Lines?

The airline industry is my life, though sometimes I’m caught totally off guard by start ups. Reader Chris left a comment on the blog a few hours ago about Baltia Air Lines, which I had never heard of.

Baltic-Air-Lines

I quickly Googled them and stumbled upon their website, which left me even more confused. I literally had no clue what was going on. “Join The Golden Rooster Club?” Is this a joke?!

Baltia-Air-Lines-Website

What is Baltia Air Lines?

This actually seems to be a legitimate startup which has been 25 years in the making.

Per their website, here’s their overview:

Baltia Air Lines is America’s newest airline…preparing to operate the only non-stop flights for passengers, cargo and mail from New York’s JFK Int’l Airport to Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Baltia Air Lines, Inc. (BALTIA) is a New York State corporation and a fully reporting, publicly traded company listed on the OTC Bulletin Board under the ticker symbol “BLTA”.

Baltia maintains corporate and operational offices at JFK Int’l Airport in New York and at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Baltia is currently in an advanced stage of the FAA Air Carrier Certification process and expects to begin revenue generating flights in 2014.

Here’s their goal:

Baltia’s goal is to become the leading U.S. airline in the Trans-Atlantic market between the major U.S. cities and capital cities of Europe and other destinations.

Baltia intends to provide high quality three-class passenger service, and reliable cargo and mail transportation.

With experienced management and in a lucrative and growing travel market Baltia intends to soar to success.

And here’s their objective:

Baltia plans to start its flight operations as the only U.S. airline directly connecting two of the world’s most prominent cities – New York and St. Petersburg.

Baltia’s non-stop service from New York JFK to St. Petersburg Pulkovo will be approximately 8 hours, as compared to European connecting flights on foreign airlines taking 11 to 30 hours.

Only a U.S. airline (as well as a reciprocal Russian airline) is entitled to fly non-stop. “Third nation” airlines, which are currently serving the market, can only operate connecting flights via their national airports.

Baltia Air Lines may actually launch soon

Flightglobal has an interesting article about their history, which is well worth a read. They’ve been trying to get off the ground for a long time now, though it looks like it might actually happen soon. On their Facebook page they have pictures of their flight attendants being trained, and just last week posted this chart of their progress:

Baltia-Airlines-Schedule

Baltia Air Lines has a fleet of two 747-200s

I don’t know how they’ll actually turn a profit, but my gosh I’m so excited about this airline. They have a fleet of Boeing 747-200 aircraft, which are an aviation nut’s dream. The big “rooster” on the tail isn’t the only thing that… nevermind, I’m not going there.

They don’t have a timeline for their first flight yet, but the plan is for the inaugural route to be New York to St. Petersburg.

Baltia Air Lines Golden Rooster Club frequent flyer program

They’ve even already set up a frequent flyer program, called the Golden Rooster Club. Basically they give you 4,000 miles for a one-way in economy, 8,000 miles for a one-way in business, and 16,000 miles for a one-way in first class.

Golden-Rooster-Frequent-Flyer-Program-2

On the redemption side, five flights gets you a free flight, because a one-way in economy costs 20,000 miles, a one-way in business class costs 40,000 miles, and a one-way in first class costs you 80,000 miles.

Golden-Rooster-Frequent-Flyer-Program-1

According to their website, there are no capacity restrictions (of course that’s easy enough to offer when you’re running a start up and will presumably have quite a few empty seats, let alone that you’d be thrilled if anyone flies your airline five times when you only have one or two routes).

Golden-Rooster-Frequent-Flyer-Program-3

It seems that they’ll also have their own lounge, and offer complimentary chauffeur service for premium cabin passengers:

Limo service is complimentary for First and Business Class passengers.

First Class – A chauffeur will pick you up at your home, hotel, or office and drive you to the airport for departure. When you reach your destination, a chauffeur will be waiting to drive you to your home, hotel, or office.

Business Class – When you arrive at your destination, a chauffeur will be waiting to drive you to your home, hotel, or office.

We don’t know what their cabins look like yet

They already have their first two planes and they’re painted in their livery, though I haven’t seen any pictures of the cabins yet. I’m curious if the cabins are super-dated since they’re a startup and won’t have competition on any of their initial routes, or if they’re actually going to be have cutting edge premium cabin products. Given that cutting edge seats would probably cost more than the air frame, I’m going to guess the former…

I’m really excited — this seems like the good old days of flying!

There’s something about this airline that excites me. Maybe it’s the 747-200s, maybe it’s the simple mileage program with no capacity controls, maybe it’s that their logo is a giant rooster, or maybe it’s just how unique the airline is. I can’t wait to fly them.

Is there any chance they can turn a profit?

There has long been been a joke about the fastest way to become a millionaire in the airline industry — it’s to start as a billionaire. It boggles my mind that investors will put money into new airlines, given how historically they’re almost never profitable.

I commend Baltia for having a truly unique business model, though. I’m sure they picked up the air frames for next to nothing, even if they are gas guzzlers. And they’re certainly not doing anything that has been tried recently. So kudos to them for that.

Contrast that to La Compagnie, which is trying to do something which has been done before, failed, and they’re watering it down even further.

On one hand, without connections I can’t imagine there’s enough of a market between New York and Eastern Europe to fill a fleet of 747s, but at the same time at least it’s something unique that we haven’t seen before.

Bottom line

I hope they get off the ground soon, and will do what I can to get on their inaugural flight. Given that they’re already training their crews, I imagine they have aspirations of launching sometime this year.

What do you think of Baltia Air Lines? Obviously they’re completely ridiculous, but completely ridiculous awesome, or completely ridiculous awful?

(Tip of the hat to Chris)

Comments

  1. From an interview five (!) years ago: “First class has only twelve seats,” explains [VP of Finance[ Clare. “It’s sort of a gimmick because we want to show that we have that kind of service available. Even though service will be superior throughout the entire aircraft, first class service will really be far superior. The entire upper deck… will be dedicated as a first class lounge, with a bar and gourmet chefs, live entertainment, strictly for the first class passengers… If the [first class] seats get filled, great; if not, it’s there to show that Baltia Air Lines has that kind of service.” The airline is hiring “stewards” from “fine restaurants, not flight attendants who work for other airlines that have bad habits. The experience will be incredible… like the grand old ocean liners.”

    Found at http://theairlineblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/baltia-air-lines-20-year-old-startup.html

  2. One other consideration — last I heard, Russia was contemplating closing their airspace to US- and EU-based airlines. Could put a wrench in their plans.

  3. Baltia only has one 747-200 (the other plane was scrapped). It’s an Ex-Northwest aircraft, so it may have the old Northwsest WBC seats on board (not sure where’d they’d get first class seats from).

    The initial plan is supposedly to offer once weekly service, before gradually ramping it up to daily. Additional destinations will follow, including Kiev, Riga and Minsk!

    A good source of information on Baltia is here, although you have to look for it between the delusional penny stock dreamers:

    http://investorshub.advfn.com/Baltia-Air-Lines-Inc-BLTA-918

  4. I met Barry Clare at a local restaurant in NY. Tried his darndest to sell me stock. I hope I’m wrong but I really think that the entire Baltia is just about stock sales and not about ever taking flight.

  5. @ Matt — Once weekly service? Not sure how they plan on build up a passenger base with such limited service. Negates the benefit of a nonstop flight, IMO.

  6. @Andrew B – that’s 1. Not really likely to happen and 2. Only for flights overflowing Russia, not flights into Russia

  7. @Matt: But why fly JFK-RIX with this unknown Baltia company when you could fly this route with the trusted Uzbekistan Airways?

    But in all honesty, I’m interested to see how this will turn out. At http://www.baltia.com/farerules.html, they state that all tickets will have free changes and full-refund cancellations, even after departure. Not too sure how they can really make money that way. . .

  8. @ Newb — I find the 747 to be the most gorgeous plane in the sky, and you just don’t see the -200 a lot anymore.

  9. Oh dear, perhaps it will be the next wolf of wall street? No wait, The Rooster of wallstreet! (not the nyc one, because obviously they couldent afford it!)

  10. @Endre Good one!

    …and on that note, be very weary if they announce “humanitarian flights” to Donetsk or Luhansk.

  11. “… two of the world’s most prominent cities – New York and St. Petersburg…”

    ROTFLMAO

    Everyone knows that only one of these cities is “prominent”, and it ain’t New York.

  12. Would love to get a flight on the 747-200 if this airline begins ops. Another interesting startup that seems to be a ways off is American West Jets which plans to fly ex Eastern L1011s from LAS and SBD. Apparently they bought the certificate of Ryan International a few months back but haven’t heard anything since.

  13. From the linked article it appears that the airplanes are from 1975 & 1979. Perhaps they are going to keep original seats as a novelty. Hipster chic! 😛

  14. Did Matt real suggest that Ihub is a good place for info? If you like paid Bashers and posters with an agenda, Ihub is your place. If you want a REAL message board with REAL investors, investors hangout is your place. I’m going to be a rich man soon and all of you Bashers and naysayers will be on the outside looking in.

  15. I worked for TWA in the 1980’s in flight operations. We trained a class of pilots for Baltia on the 767. On the last day of class they were sent home by the Baltia management. Most were ex Pan Am pilots. I felt terrible for them. At that time, they were planning a New York-Riga route.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *