Global Airlines had a spectacular opportunity. A couple hundred members of the travel world, including media, were in attendance as the carrier hosted its “Welcome Aboard” party in London on 28 July. It was something of a (re)launch party, a scene where CEO James Asquith could quell concerns of a misguided 2021 pitch deck (the carrier has since “moved on”) and get some real facts about the airline into circulation.
Instead, Asquith took the opportunity to once again highlight a bunch of brands that Global Airlines does not yet have a formal partnership with. And then he took to social media to lambast journalists for not knowing internal industry accounting acronyms.
Stretching the partnership claims
During the London event Global Airlines confirmed a relationship with American Express. Asquith touted “exclusive perks” for cardholders during his presentation. The company echoed similar promises in its press release:
Ahead of the first flight in 2024, American Express and Global will collaborate on bespoke offers for Amex Cardmembers on the inaugural services between London Gatwick and New York’s JFK. The agreement will also see a range of exclusive fly-drive offers, hotel stays, and restaurant bookings made available to Cardmembers.
When queried about the relationship, American Express had a rather different take. Yes, a company spokesman confirmed, AmEx and Global Airlines now have a “merchant acceptance agreement.” Beyond that, AmEx sees a “possible collaboration on Cardmember Offers” in the future. Nothing is confirmed for those offers today.
Quotes from the airline and newly announced champagne partner Laurent Perrier also came back with a different tone between the carrier and the partner, though both quotes were approved by both companies.
The company also implied partnerships – both at the event and it is press release – with multiple other brands. When queried on these other partnerships Liam McKay, Global’s Director of Corporate Affairs noted that these brands were “featured at the event” and that “anything official will follow when appropriate and agreed with all parties.” Which also means those partnerships may never really come to fruition.
The differences between what was announced or implied at the event and the reality in each case is subtle. Perhaps even too subtle to matter. But given Global’s history of exaggerating (or outright lying) about partner companies, one must look at the decision to continue in that vein as a conscious choice, not an accident. Especially when McKay continues to press the message that the company has moved on from the misguided 2021 investor push.
A more rational – but also irrational cabin
As for details about the actual operations for the carrier, JFK airport in New York City remains the primary market, according to the company. The A380s flying that route will only have three classes of service on board, however, down from the initially mooted five.
Dropping “Gamer Class” is a smart choice. That was never going to be a useful product for anyone. But dropping the premium economy cabin is a more questionable decision.
If Global’s claims on operating costs for the A380s are true, it should be able to dedicate more seats to a premium cabin and sell it at a profit rather than focusing on ferrying high volumes of passengers in economy class at rock-bottom fares. Moreover, the carrier must redesign its cabins before it begins operations; the business class seats on board are no longer certified to fly. If it is going to invest in the retrofit anyways bringing a quality premium economy cabin on board should deliver strong yields for its premium-focused approach to the market.
The months ahead will be filled with more announcements from the carrier as it completes its cabin retrofit and works towards entering service. It still needs an operating certificate from the CAA before it can start flying; that’s the real milestone to be on the lookout for. It is much less sexy than claiming major lifestyle brand partnerships, but the planes will never get off the ground without it.
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