Airline travel can be big business and as long as you’re creative and have access to a good market, starting one could even prove to be the best decision in your life. However, the key to succeeding in this type of venture is really careful planning and design, particularly during the initial stages. If starting an airline charter business is your dream, here are some things you need to know:
Get a solid background on the industry.
If you know nothing about the airline charter business or just have a vague idea how it’s done, launching a startup now is like skating on thin ice in the dark. This could potentially be a very expensive venture and if you don’t watch out.
Try to research the industry first – talk to people involved, specifically those who actually work in the field. You’ll find that it will be easier to talk to industry insiders from locations you don’t intend to do business in, simply because you don’t present a threat to their business.
Determine how well the industry has been performing in the past and present, find out what its problems and challenges are and most importantly, identify its unique needs. You could just use this information to help you design a unique service that could help get you a slice of the market share.
Find out about licenses, permits and regulations.
The airline charter industry follows several regulations from agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation and the Chamber of Commerce. There are also licenses and permits you need to obtain not just for your airplanes (you’ll have to obtain licenses and permits for each unit) but also for your pilots and the crew. Food concessionaires, servers and airline personnel, if you hire them, might also be required to obtain permits and licenses themselves.
Identify your market.
Determine who you want to offer your airline charter service to. Who do you think will make good customers and how big a market is this? Can you realistically do business offering your services to this market? What are their needs, the type of services they prefer or wished other airlines offered and is there a potential for expansion with this market alone? If there is none, find out if it’s possible to expand to other market sectors.
This early, you might also want to decide whether you only want to cater to individual or corporate clients or if you would like to include freight or cargo as part of your business. Either way can be lucrative and if you want to combine both, you should be able to provide sufficient equipment and manpower. As a startup, this is one aspect worth looking into.
Know who your competitors are.
The airline charter business is highly competitive and the sluggish economy means you’ll have to work doubly hard. To find out what types of services are currently being offered, look for companies that are involved in the field.
Learn as much as you can about them – how long they’ve been in business, what types of services they offer, how many people they employ, what their market share is, what makes them successful, etc. This will help you determine what types of needs are still not being met by these carriers and what steps you need to take so you can compete with them directly.
Another great way to get into the airline charter business is to buy into a franchise. As a startup, your baby steps will be guided and you’ll have a system you can follow. With a franchise, you have the advantage of a known brand and won’t have to learn the industry on your own.