Growing Pains For "Baby Branson" Airline
Martin Halstead attracted international attention last month when he started up his own airline in the U.K. at age 19, booking flights between the Isle of Man and Edinburgh. Dubbed the "Baby Branson" for his youthful entrepreneurship, Halstead's AlphaOne airline has so far been off to a rocky start, facing delays and cancellations. Maintenance problems caused a switch from 18-seat Jetstreams to a lone Navajo Chieftain. The Navajo was grounded last week after a part was found to be out of date, and the company's Web site is still not fully functional. Halstead said last week he still plans to move forward with the venture, expand routes, and add the Jetstream next year. Halstead plans to work as a pilot as well as CEO, and says he has lots of experienced staffers on his team to make up for his own lack of years ... but he's relying largely on his own financing skills. He financed the airline after selling off a flight-simulator software company he started at age 15.