“Islas Afortunadas” is the Spanish for Fortunate Islands, a very appropriate name for the next airline that will connect the Canary Islands nationally and internationally with a dozen routes next autumn.
The lack of flights to the Canary Islands, in addition to the changes affecting the airline industry are the cause of new projects coming to light. This is the case of Islas Afortunadas Air which has been planned for the last five years by three Canarian pilots. The airline will start to operate with 12 aircraft, will employ 450 people and almost 3.5 million passengers are expected in its first year.
The initial fleet includes ten BAe 146 and two Airbus A320 aircrafts. The flights schedule will include connections from their base in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with the other six Canarian Islands as well as direct flights to Madrid, Barcelona and Galicia, in Spain, and Morocco and Mauritania, abroad.
Islas Afortunadas Air has been founded from 100% Canarian capital and it will certainly be a boost for employment. Although the deadline to apply for the initial 450 jobs has already been closed, their objective is to achieve a workforce 1,100 employees in the medium term.
The philosophy of the new airline is purely 'low cost', focusing therefore on strong cost control and offering lower prices to the consumer. In fact, its manager José Antonio Godoy has assured that they will be able to offer up to a 50% prices below currently offered by other companies operating in the Canary Islands, as Air Europa, Iberia Express, Ryanair, Binter or Canaryfly.
"Prices will be cheaper than any Canarian or national company" insisted the businessman, who has argued that "we can not block the movement of the Canarian citizens". He seemed to hint that that the 'secret' of their low rates in their case is that “there aren’t as many pockets to be filled and there is no need to financially abuse the customer’s". "You can not be greedy, for neither personal nor professional ethics", he insisted. Mind you, users will have to pay for checking baggage that exceeds the cabin measures. Nothing new under the sun, eh?
With this positioning and routes on offer, Islas Afortunadas Air Management expect to carry 3,496,000 passengers in their first year of operations. Ticket sales will begin at the end of August, which will be primarily offered for sale direct online, "to save costs", though the company is negotiating with travel agencies for them to integrate their product on their websites. The airline’s website is already registered as www.islasafortunadasair.com but still under construction. It will also open an office in each Canarian capital to better serve the customer base.
Mr. Godoy also wanted to emphasize that his company will differentiate itself from their competitors with small but important details. For example, on flights longer than three hours there will always be a doctor on board. In addition, the caterer will offer special menus for celiacs, diabetics and people of different religious beliefs. And there will be special attention for people with sensory disabilities such as blindness or deafness, for which the website will be tailored and customized explanations given about safety on the plane.
The airline’s management has opted for reactors manufacturer BAE Systems. Islas Afortunadas Air will initially lease the aircrafts but "we want to have our own fleet if it becomes viable." For now, they plan to replace five of the BAe 146 by as many CRJ900 (Bombardier) in late November.
As for permits, José Antonio Godoy says that already have all the licenses from the Ministry of Development and only waiting on a formality by the Canarian Government.
The origin and destination of the first flight is now "very clear": it will be a Gran Canaria-Tenerife flight.
And in the medium term they wish to be able to establish direct routes to major airports European capitals such as Paris, London and Berlin.
All around it sounds like a win-win situation: more flights, more routes & cheaper prices. A bit of competition never did (customers) any harm.
Until their website is fully operational, you can follow their updates on their facebook page on:Islas-Afortunadas-Air.