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Firnas Airways: Tapping into the potential of underserved / un-served routes

Kazi Shafiqur Rahman, Founder & CEO of Firnas Airways talks to Charmaine Fernz about his vision to become UK’s third long-haul airline offering passengers service that is comfortable, choice-driven, affordable and flexible and plans that lie ahead…

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The Firnas Airways core team

What was the idea behind launching Firnas Airways?

We launched Firnas Airways as we saw a huge commercial opportunity to serve un-served and under-served routes within and outside of Europe that had zero or limited competition

Could you shed light on the progress?

Ambition is one thing, but it has to be tempered with reality. Aviation is a complex, expensive and a regulated business and we want to be certain that we have strong foundations in place. We have determined that it makes sense to build up the business from small beginnings, to gather together a group of talented, experienced and like-minded professionals, who can create a first-class leadership team for the journey. This journey has begun and the first public evidence of this will be the launch of European charter services in early 2018. This will test our team, procedures and will clear the way for scheduled European services later in the year. We have identified a gap in the market to serve secondary cities with a high standard of personal service at an affordable price.

What are the launch plans?

Beginning with charter services, we will use this opportunity to test our systems and operating procedures, recruit and train key team members and continue to develop our product offering. This will begin in early 2018 and we anticipate moving towards short-haul scheduled services later in the year. During this time, we will continue to finesse our business plan and provide evidence for our investors of the potential of the business.

What marketing strategies would be initiated to promote the airline?

Like many businesses starting in the digital age, we will primarily market the airline through social media. This has several advantages, not the least of which are cost and customer engagement.

What would be the market segmentation?

We will avoid operating from high-cost airports and on primary routes wherever possible. There remain a considerable number of city pairs within Europe that are un-served or under-served that would not support a 737 size of the operation.  We believe that by operating from secondary airports we can reduce customer costs and provide a high standard of personal service. Couple that with an attractive schedule and we believe we can attract both business and leisure customers.

Could you elaborate on the fleet and route plans?

We will start off with Jetstream 31 operations with 19 seats. These aircraft are ideal for route proving as they provide good levels of comfort on short journeys and have low operating costs. We are already evaluating aircraft that will provide larger capacity, both turboprops and jets. We have a significant number of un-served or underserved routes under evaluation and can envisage a fleet of five to six aircraft within the next three years.

What would be the differentiating factor of Firnas Airways?

We believe that the drive towards low fares has transferred stress of air travel to the customer with little to look forward to other than arriving at the destination. We want to change this and Firnas Airways is determined to provide a high standard of personal service at an attractive and affordable fare, to make travel as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.

What global expansions lie ahead?

Our ultimate aim is a mid to long-haul network following the same principles of under-served or un-served routes. We have already identified a number of routings that fit this description and have already started work on an internal business plan to test their viability and the type of service that would succeed. It is early days in our company evolution but we strongly believe that there is a great market potential that is currently ignored.