Would-be Australian airline brad is failing to gain traction. An ambitious crowdfunding campaign is falling substantially short of its targets. Not even the lure of future free flights is enticing potential investors to part with the cash. The shortfall comes as flying in Australia continues to stagger from crisis to crisis.
After reports in The Australian newspaper, Simple Flying brought brad to our reader’s attention. Earlier this year, Perth-based airline entrepreneur Brad Coombe decided the time was right to launch a new airline in Australia.
“I want you to rethink the way you fly,” says Mr Coombe in a clip on his crowdfunding page. ‘After 40 years of doing business in the airline and aerospace industries, my team and I are ready to address the issues at the heart of the flyer experience.”
Brad Coombe is seeking to raise AU$1 million (US$740,000) by December 31 to fund the startup costs of brad – securing an air operator’s certificate, for instance.
After that, Mr Coombe was eyeing a fleet of twin-engine, narrowbody jets configured with three classes. Those classes were to be called brad basic (economy), brad + (premium economy), and brad class (business). Calling everything after yourself sure saves on focus groups and marketing departments, but it’s not aspirational naming going on here.
Crowdfunding targets fall short at brad
Last week, brad popped up on The Australian’s radar again. Despite an entry-level AU$200 investment entitling punters to four brad basic flights (under three hours), Aussies haven’t been flocking to get brad in the air. The newspaper reports less than AU$4,000 of the $1 million target has been raised, and Mr Coombe has gone “quiet.” According to brad’s crowdfunding page on Monday, just AU$3,821.40 has been raised.
“Initially, contributions are non-refundable,” the website’s terms and conditions notes. “However, if brad fails to meet its initial target of AU$1 million by midnight December 31, 2021, you will be entitled to a refund of your contribution less the credit card commission.
“Should brad reach its initial target of AU$1 million at any time prior to December 31, 2021, your contribution will remain non-refundable, and brad will begin working on its AOD contribution.”
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.
Time is right to start a new airline says would-be CEO
When brad first hit the news, a few well-known airline industry names were flagged as associated with the startup. Most of those industry insiders quickly shot down the claims.
With thousands of aircraft waiting to be leased at rock bottom prices and thousands more pilots, cabin crew, and ground staff out of work around Australia and the world, Mr Coombe argued the time was right to start a new airline. Free future brad flights lure potential investors. Investors prepared to point up AU$50,000 or $100,000 would be entitled to hundreds of free flights plus generous luggage limits thrown in.
But ungrateful Australians haven’t climbed onboard. With commercial flying in a state of paralysis in Australia, many might disagree that this is the time to start a new airline. Perhaps all the spare cash is tied up in unusable credit vouchers and delayed refunds from other airlines?
Not everyone remains convinced Mr Coombe can pull this off. But other startup airlines have commenced flights this year, albeit not in the distressed Australian flying environment. Avelo, Breeze Airways, and Birgir Jónsson’s PLAY are examples. Rex’s grounded Boeings are a salutary lesson of overreach in Australia’s contemporary flying environment. But credit to Mr Coombe if he can achieve his goal.
Meanwhile, brad’s crowdfunding page remains open for business. With less than six months to hit the million-dollar target, the clock is ticking.
What do you think? What are the chances of brad becoming airborne? Would you invest? Post a comment and let us know.