Bern Airport Tries Crowdfunding To Create A New Airline

The airport of Bern is hoping you’ll want to contribute some funds to re-establish its regional airline! Well, perhaps more the residents living in the region (but maybe they’ll take your contribution anyways?). In a Friday press release, the Bern Airport announced it would aim to start a new airline after a previous regional carrier, SkyWorks, went bust. The quirk about this new airline is that it seeks startup funds from the public.

A mockup of the future airline’s aircraft. Photo: flyBAIR

Von Bern für Bern

When translated to english, Bern Airport’s press release is titled “flyBAIR –the new airline of Bern, for Bern”. In fact, the goal of this airline is to offer charter flights to ten European destinations starting May 2020. It hopes to establish connections to travel hubs such as Munich, Amsterdam or London by Autumn 2020.

According to website SwissInfo, Bern Airport is hoping that residents of the region will contribute the capital needed. The goal: 2.5 million Swiss francs ($2.5 million). This will be done via online crowdfunding with the initial goal to collect CHF1 million within 30 days.

At a press conference held by the airport, Board chairman Beat Brechbühl said that efforts to startup a Bern-based airline via conventional methods had failed. This is why the airport is betting on a “virtual airline” instead.

The airline’s structure

What is meant by “virtual airline”? Well, FlyBAIR would not actually own any aircraft itself. Rather, it would take responsibility for marketing flights and selling seats. On the ground, Swiss charter company Lions Air would handle operations while German Airways would lease the planes.

Bern Airport’s director Urs Ryf said this would allow the airport to operate flights according to demand, minimizing fixed costs.

The proposed route map of the future airline. Photo: flyBAIR

What do donors and investors get?

According to the flyBAIR website, your donation amount will determine your benefits – much like any project on Kickstarter or IndieGogo. With some donation levels being named after cabin classes, here’s what their website (translated) offers:

  • Economy (CHF29): A flyBAIR keychain and exclusive content.
  • Economy Plus (CHF99): The benefits of Economy and your name on the plane.
  • Premium Economy (CHF250): One registered share, one week of parking annually, and exclusive content.
  • Business (CHF2500): 10 registered shares, one flight per year for the first two years, and exclusive content.
  • Business Plus (CHF5000): 20 registered shares, two annual flights in the first two years, and exclusive content.
  • Ridge (CHF10,000): 40 registered shares, four flights per year for the first two years, and exclusive content.
  • Finally, there is the “Honorary” level (CHF500,000): You get to choose the name of the terminal.
Some of the executives of Bern Airport posing at the press conference. Photo: flyBAIR

Conclusion

This is certainly a novel idea that might just work. What I enjoy about the concept is that there is a more personal connection and sense of ownership to the airline. Not many people can say that they had a helping hand in founding an airline!

Do you think this idea will take-off? Or is it too capital intensive to rely on the public? Let us know in the comments!

We reached out to Bern Airport for a comment. However, at the time of writing this article, we have yet to receive a response.

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GE Williams

It is novel. But does Bern handle enough traffic to make the concept viable? Might the factors that ended SkyWorks also stop the new carrier from getting off the ground?

Tamas

Hands down if I had 500 001 CHF I’d spend 500 000 of that to name that damn terminal.