Firnas Airways attracts investor interest:

Tuesday 6th March 2018

  • Firnas Airways
  • Firnas Airways founders.

Start up progressing with new regional community airline to serve UK domestic and short haul European routes

Start-up Firnas Airways is busy working on its regulatory check-list and securing the necessary finance to formally launch what will be the UK's newest independent regional airline.  It is targeting a third quarter start, initially serving short haul charter services with 19-seat BAE Jetstream 31 aircraft.  One aircraft is already painted in its colour scheme and was presented to interested potential investors late last month.

"Our investment programme is on schedule and going extremely well," says entrepreneur and founder CEO Kazi Rahman, who has garnered an impressive team of airline professionals to help him realise his plans, advise and fine-tune its business strategy.

Firnas Airways plans to enter the market and fill a niche, important segment in the sub 50-seat aircraft category, complementing a market dominated by low cost carriers and full service, legacy airlines.

Firnas, named after the legendary eighth-century Spanish inventor and scientist Abbas ibn Firnas, lesser known pioneer of the flying machine, has identified unserved and under-served smaller airports with strong catchments, in phase one of its business.

It will serve the sort of airports where passengers enjoy short check in times, quick turnarounds and customer friendly service, all on one level.  Airports like London Oxford, London Southend, Waterford and Isle of Man Ronaldsway are on the wish list.

"We are building a community airline where our investors will help us choose where we fly," says Kazi Rahman.  Our extensive research over the past 18 months shows us there is a notable gap in the 19-seat market, especially in charter, which is where we will start, before moving into regular, scheduled flights. We will start path-finding regional routes with up to two Jetstream 31s, building up to move into bigger 50-seaters," he said.

 

Fund-raising through Eureeca

Firnas Airways, first registered in 2014, is raising capital under the UK's fully HMRC-endorsed Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS).  Fund-raising via Eureeca.com, a multi-regulated global crowd-funding investor platform, it is targeting angel investors who will embrace the airline's vision to grow and develop.  Future fund-raising rounds will target major institutional investors.  (All raised funds are secure in a segregated account with Eureeca).

The business is working to raise a second £0.5 million in capital (for a total 12.5% of the business) and is now almost 60% on the way to its goal.  Fund-raising started with a 15% discount on shares, now reduced to 5% before it moves to 0% following the next £70k of pledged investment.  These additional bonus shares will be issued on a first applicant basis.

The energy and dedication to succeed displayed by Kazi Rahman, British Muslim Entrepreneur of the Year 2017, has encouraged Channel 4 TV to follow him on his journey.  An hour-long documentary is underway to air shortly.

"Firnas Airways pledges to bring back personalisation with its regular air services and commitment to customer service, with the trusted twin-turboprop as the platform. Today's regional airlines have matured into 70-seat aircraft.  Scheduled services have diminished notably in favour of ACMI, sub charter work for bigger airlines so there is a gap in the market," added John Brayford, a former British Airways and Flybe senior executive. John returned to the UK last year to help Kazi realize his plans, having served at the helm of a number of emerging airlines in the Middle East and South Asia.  John will serve as managing director and accountable manager.

Skybird AC Ltd, which is leasing the aircraft to Firnas, will steer its operations. Jon Ibbotson (CEO of Skybird) decided to join the team determining Firnas' business plan was "one of the best he had ever seen" in the aviation sector.

Who's who at Firnas Airways:

Kazi Rahman, CEO and Founder

Kazi Rahman has already carved out a successful business career.  Named British Muslim Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 by Al Rayan Bank Plc, he features in the British Bangladeshi's Who's Who.  Kazi co-founded Arabian Fine Fragrances, Sunnamusk London, one of the most successful fragrance distributors.  Passionate about aviation since childhood, his vision is to play a role in helping to shape the future of commercial air travel, launching a viable alternative airline that is affordable, flexible, comfortable and innovative.

John Brayford, Managing Director and Accountable Manager

John Brayford is a highly experienced airline executive with a career spanning four decades.  He has enjoyed senior management roles at British Airways, Flybe and Qatar Airways.  Most recently he has built a reputation guiding fast-growing carriers in emerging markets, including RAK Airways, Safi Airways and Biman Bangladesh.  John has a track record of delivering great results; building up new routes; meeting and exceeding business objectives.

Jonathan Ibbotson - Director of Flight Operations

Jonathan (Jon) Ibbotson brings almost 30 years' experience as a commercial aviation pilot and trainer.   He has amassed 5,900 hours flying experience, including 2,900 hours in a multi-crew environment and 2,400 hours in multi-engine, single pilot aircraft. He is also a TRI training captain.  He will take responsibility for ensuring regulatory compliance of the airline's flight operations.

Azhar Khan, Financial Director

Azhar Khan contributes significant experience in financial operations for major corporations and international banking firms.   He has held the role of Director Internal Audit for Charles Schwab Europe and served as Director of Financial Operations for the Islamic Bank of Britain. From 2007 to 2016, he was Chief Financial Officer of the UK division of Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB). He is a consultant to Al Rayan Bank UK and a trustee of UK-based non-profit organisation, Charity Right.

Bob Green, Security & Safety Compliance Manager

Bob Green boasts more than 48 years' experience working within large airline organisations in various operational roles with a focus on safety and compliance. Bob has worked for major UK-based carriers during his career including British Airways, British Midlands (BMI) and KLMuk (formerly Air UK).   Since 2001, Bob has worked as an aviation consultant for airlines including Eastern Airways, Thomas Cook, Jet2.com and Scandinavian.

Katherine du Toit, General Manager, Ground Operations

Katherine du Toit has forged a long and distinguished career specialising in ground operations for UK-based operators including Eastern Airways, Servisair and Astra Aviation. She spent the last seven years in Namibia, serving as general manager, ground operations for Air Namibia from 2010 to 2016, and most recently, as the general manager of safari tour specialist Wilderness Air. Katherine holds an MBA and an IATA Diploma in Airline Management.  

Brian Irvine

Brian Irvine is a highly experienced aviation engineer and technical services consultant. He spent 20 years working as an engineering technician with the RAF, before joining BAE Systems in 1998 as a technical instructor.  In 2002, he joined Scottish regional carrier Highland Airways helping oversee the airline's technical services and maintenance departments. Since 2010 he has worked as a consultant with various airlines and aviation specialists. At Firnas Brian will be responsible for quality assurance and ensuring the highest technical standards.

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