Global Airlines Wants To Change The Game With Their Airbus A380s – A Detailed Chat with CEO James Asquith

Global Airlines has been making strong progress over the last two years in it’s plans to launch commercial flights from the UK to across the pond with the Airbus A380.
Photo Credit: Global Airlines.

Global Airlines has been making strong progress over the last two years in it’s plans to launch commercial flights from the UK to across the pond with the Airbus A380.

Under the culture of approaching start-up carriers, the plans have been met by skepticism in the past.

However, despite any setbacks or delays, the airline is taking it well in their stride, and under the guidance of CEO James Asquith and his team, he’s extremely confident about getting things over the line.

AviationSource had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Asquith, talking about bringing a superjumbo back to life, to the airline’s overall plans, and current position at present.

Without further ado, let’s get into it…

Earlier this year, Global Airlines celebrated a landmark occasion by transporting their first Airbus A380, 9H-GLOBL, from the Mojave Desert to Glasgow Prestwick to begin the process of upgrades and maintenance.

Bringing an Airbus A380 Back from the Dead in the Mojave Desert…

Global Airlines has been making strong progress over the last two years in it’s plans to launch commercial flights from the UK to across the pond with the Airbus A380.
Photo Credit: Global Airlines.

Bringing an aircraft back from the dead in a desert is no easy feat, as Asquith details to us:

“A lot went into this flight. There were so many complexities on the A380, particularly on the MRO (maintenance, repair & overhaul) side”.

“Finding solutions and out of the box solutions has been the most difficult thing”.

“From taking the aircraft out of storage, returning it to service, getting permits to fly, especially across the Atlantic, it’s no easy thing”.

Asquith noted that this included some of the following aspects:

  • Replacing all 22 wheels on 9H-GLOBL.
  • Replacing the APU on the aircraft.
  • 5,000 man hours invested in the return to service work.

“It takes time, resources and a lot of effort. So the incredible team has worked a lot of miracles to be able to do that”.

He said he would love “to skip to the end” and get into the air commercially, but he knows that he has to knock down “each hurdle as it goes”.  

Adjusting to Supply Chain Constraints…

Asquith even addressed the fact that MRO backlogs on the Airbus A380 go as far as 2027, and addressed the difficulty within that:

“There’s one commercial A380-sized hangar. Two technically in the whole of the U.S, and there’s a big backlog until 2027 for MRO there”.

“We had to consistently face a trade-off between time in terms of slashing delays and costs, but to think about what’s the best and safest route to do something”.

“We knew that it’s will get there in the end. It’s just a case of the perseverance to do it”.

“Bringing an A380 out of storage is a process. There’s lots of ups and downs and challenges along the way, but you have just kind of have to wake up and think as long as you’re taking two steps forward, and 1.9 steps backward, you’re continuing to progress, even if it’s a continual kind of battle against the clock as well to do so”.

Asquith Wants To Set Global Airlines Apart from Other Competitors…

During our interview with Asquith, it remained clear that he wanted to make a bold statement in the industry through his plans.

His focus on passenger experience essentially dictated why he opted for the Airbus A380 as opposed to other conventional widebody aircraft.

“The likes of the Boeing 787 & Airbus A350 are great aircraft in itself, but we did want to be different and utilize a great aircraft with a great space”.

“It’s a passenger’s favorite, and pilots love flying it”.

“I think one of the struggles that I picked up on with new startup carriers over the last 15-20 years is a lot of the questions and concerns about scale, size & frequency versus incumbent carriers are very justified, and it’s justified for any new airline at the start as well”.

Using a Superjumbo Will Make A Big Difference…

“But the big difference with being able to use an A380 is what we can offer, even with less frequency per route on that aircraft”.

“It does set you apart rather than competing on a niche route or a certain-priced route, especially when you have a situation in the macro-economy like we saw in the pandemic”.

“It’s the larger aircraft that will be retired and taken out of the fleet quicker because they’re seen as more risk”.

Global Airlines has been making strong progress over the last two years in it’s plans to launch commercial flights from the UK to across the pond with the Airbus A380.
Photo Credit: Etihad Airways.

“However, we have seen airlines like Lufthansa & Etihad that have brought back the A380 after retiring them during COVID”.

“When you turn around into a stronger market, this is where the aircraft becomes the most loved”.

“With that, we saw an opportunity in that and we wanted to set ourselves apart and own the aircraft outright to ensure that kind of foundation, which is something that people have started to understand more without having to rely on aircraft lessors”.

“It means that we are looking at bigger margins, but those can be passed back in terms of a better passenger experience on the way”.

Focus on Lower Density A380s But The Best Passenger Experience…

With his plans for the Airbus A380, Global Airlines CEO James Asquith went on to discuss the plans for configuration.

He confirmed that the airline would look to incorporate a 1-2-1 configuration for first class & business, with a 3-4-3 layout for Economy.

“It’s on the end towards the lower density aspect”.

Global Airlines has been making strong progress over the last two years in it’s plans to launch commercial flights from the UK to across the pond with the Airbus A380.
Photo Credit: Global Airlines.

“No one really went for the high density on the A380, which I think was the right way to go. Towards the latter years, people said you could cram more seats onto the plane”.

“The way we see it, a big plane doesn’t necessarily equal more seats. It can meet a very good middle ground where big plane equals better product and more reason and rationale to want to get on that aircraft”.

“When people fly on Emirates, a lot of people will want to fly in all cabins including economy because they know the product is better, and even the space is.

Even if it’s marginal space in economy on the lower deck, it feels much roomier and nicer to be able to use”.

Against The Use of Premium Economy…

What was interesting is Asquith’s approach to Premium Economy, and how it won’t be used on Global Airlines’ aircraft:

“I’ve always been very much against having a Premium Economy cabin”.

“I think it only financially benefits airlines most of the time. It’s great because it acts as a barrier for them between upgrades from economy to business. It’s not good for the passenger, however”.

“If Premium Economy was 20% more than the price of Economy, then it’s worth it”.

“But at the moment, it’s priced way above that in the market. We don’t see that as an effective cabin for our customers to be able to use in terms of value for money”.

“We want to maximize the value of money versus the product and cabin that people fly on”.

Delays Are Not Setbacks In His Mind: The Ambitions Are Huge…

One bit of news that has come through in recent weeks is that Global Airlines have delayed their launch to next year.

However, in the context of what Asquith is trying to achieve at the airline, it isn’t really being seen as a setback, but more reflective of his ambitions and how he wants the airline to begin operations.

“I probably am the toughest critic of my own self and our company, and I want to be doing everything tomorrow”.

“What we have to remember is that we are launching a carrier with just A380s, and the achievements we have made have been incredible so far”.

“People have to be constructive and understanding in terms of what we’re trying to do here. The ambitions are huge”.

“In some ways, delaying takes the pressure off and we don’t want to get it wrong at the start.”

“Everything’s moving as fast as it can within our control behind the scenes.”

“We’ll just keep plugging away and doing what we have to do”.

Addressing The Critics…

Since Global Airlines was founded in 2021, one aspect that they have had to deal with is the critics of starting up and airline with these goals in mind.

Many commentators in the industry have even gone as far as saying that the launch plans won’t happen at all.

When asked about his thoughts on critics in the industry, Asquith had this to say on the matter:

“You almost have to be deluded and confident in the airline industry that what you are doing is better and right and different”.

“I speak to other founders of airlines myself, and I almost wouldn’t believe in what they’re doing and they wouldn’t believe in what we are doing”.

Photo Credit: Global Airlines.

“It might appear as deluded confidence in terms of sticking to the plan, but you have to be, because no one is in a completely rational mindset to go into this industry and do this”

“More people keep reaching out in droves saying we’ve proven so many people wrong and there’s so much still to do to prove people wrong, and that will never change”.

“It is sad to look at and think about. People have said I am trying to line my pockets or do anything in any way”.

“What we’re trying to do is create better competition. We’re trying to create more jobs in the economy. We’ve just had a change of government, and we’re looking to put a lot of positivity in the UK economy and that’s something we’re proud of”.

“So I don’t see why particularly maybe someone that commentates in aviation wouldn’t want to see that success. I mean, I certainly would”.

“We’re trying to do it for the best. And we’ve come a long way regardless”.

Overall: Global Airlines Is Progressing Well…

Photo Credit: Eddie Wallace via Global Airlines.

For Global Airlines, it does appear that even when they get to the starting point of commercial flights, they are always going to strive for greatness.

As Asquith says in his closing remarks to us at AviationSource, he will continue to innovate and will continue to be the best the airline can be.

“It sounds a little bit corny to say, but we do want to see this as kind of everyone’s airline”.

“We want to listen to feedback. We all sit there and say this isn’t good enough, or that could be better etc”.

“How often is our feedback really genuinely listened to?”

“I’m a custodian of this at Global Airlines as well. With everyone else that’s involved with this, I just want to see it continue to improve to make it a better way for all of us to fly”.

“Are we ever going to be perfect? At the end of the day, people will be saying it will struggle to work on day one, and by day 1,000, it will be the fact there wasn’t enough carrots in my meal for example”.

“There’ll always be an issue. We know that.”

“As we get closer to those operations of passenger flights, we want to know what people would like to see, because we really want to listen and we want to be receptive to that”.

It remains clear that with this detailed approach, there is a very strong chance that Global Airlines could revolutionize the game when they launch commercial flights across the pond.

It is going to be an interesting time to watch the airline, that’s for sure.

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By James Field - Editor in Chief 15 Min Read
15 Min Read
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