This year the European aviation industry will welcome a new airline from Switzerland. FlyBair will begin operations on 2 May. But FlyBair is different to most commercial airlines in the sense that it is a partially-crowdfunded ‘virtual airline’ with more than 1,400 investors.
Switzerland has a handful of home-grown airlines, including SWISS, Helvetic Airways and Edelweiss Air, which will soon be joined by FlyBair. The newcomer is due to operate its first flight from Bern to Palma on 2 May, part of a opening route line-up which includes popular holiday destinations across Europe.
A real start-up airline
FlyBair is starting off small, as most start-ups have to. But the airline only began its funding drive less than six months ago, back in November 2019. Where many start-ups will go to large corporate investors for capital, FlyBair has been crowdfunded by many hundreds of different investors.
Through crowdfunding, FlyBair has managed to secure the 2.4 million Euros it set as its target to get operations off the ground. As reported by Anna Aero, the airline focused on the local community as a base of investors. In an effort to secure willing crowdfunders, FlyBair made an appeal to the community of Bern, where the airline will be based, asking residents in the city to, “support our dream because we believe that it is high time that an airline connects Bern to Europe again.”
Bern is a sizeable city with a metro area population of 660,000 residents and easily has enough potential investors to provide the 2.4 million euro worth of funds FlyBair set as its initial investment target. In total, the airline currently has more than 1,400 investors on its books. To save on expenses, FlyBair has signed a partnership with Helvetic Airways, which will operate FlyBair’s flights using its Embraer E190s.
A focus on Bern
FlyBair’s base of operations is Bern, Switzerland’s fifth-largest city. This summer, the airline will operate flights to seven European destinations out of Bern, with an additional flight to Parma from Sion, a town in the Southwest of Switzerland. The destinations FlyBair will serve out of Bern are Heraklion, Jerez, Kos, Mahon, Olbia, Parma, Preveza and Rhodes.
As you can see from this initial summer route schedule, FlyBair is focusing on summer holiday destinations across Europe. For start-up airlines like FlyBair, summer destinations are a dependable choice for initial flights, as there is usually a good supply of passengers looking to fly to this type of destination.
But FlyBair has focused specifically on flights out of Bern for another reason. As reported by Flight Global, there are currently no airlines operating commercial flights out of Bern’s airport, meaning that residents of the city and its surrounding area have to travel a considerable distance to catch flights.
Bern hasn’t always suffered from this lack of flights, but it lost almost all of its capacity when the airport’s largest resident, SkyWorks, ceased operations in 2018. FlyBair has clearly spotted an opportunity to offer a much-needed service to the residents of Bern, which is reflected in the local crowdfunding campaign which allowed the airline to get itself up and running in the first place.