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Avatar Airlines - Flight of Fancy or the Real Deal?'s BRADLEY WINT looks at a proposed start-up airline

First registered in Nevada and now operating out of Boca Raton, Florida, Avatar Airlines seeks to operate ultra low-cost flights between US cities including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orlando, Dallas, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Tampa, Dallas, San Francisco and Phoenix. According to their November 2019 DOT filing, they initially plan to operate up to 14 used Boeing 747-400s, and intend to purchase 30 Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental aircraft within the next 3 to 5 years to eventually replace the aging -400s.

The company has since issued a letter of intent which was sent to Boeing’s CEO for consideration.

“Avatar is interested in purchasing 30 new 747-8s, (passenger-version) to be delivered within 3-5 years, a deal that could be worth over $10 billion dollars to Boeing. The Company intends to release its IPO during this time which would be dedicated for this specific purpose. The timing is right for keeping the 747 alive. Rather than zeroing in on long-haul luxury, we believe Boeing should rethink the aircraft on a cost per available seat mile (ASM) which would result in more people that fly with less airplanes in the sky.”

Avatar filed for a Part 121 certificate with the Federal Aviation Administration, and for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity with the the Department of Transportation on November 19, 2019, which would allow them to operate scheduled flights between various U.S. cities including Hawaii. The company is also seeking to put out an IPO of 20 million Series A preferred stock shares on February 19, 2020 in the hopes of raising $300 million in funding to assist with its start-up costs and aircraft acquisitions.

A radical way of making money?

Even though the airline wants to offer low fares (ranging from $19 to $99 plus taxes), they don’t want to place too much of the burden solely on passengers. Based on their 747-400 seat map, they intend to offer 581 seats per aircraft (539 in economy and 42 in business class). The hope is that spreading the cost over many more passengers per flight would result in a lowered cost per passenger, but surprisingly they are hoping for close to 100% load capacity, even though an 84% load factor was used in their projection model based on NTSB industry standards.