Who is Happy Airways, this company that wants to take off planes from Strasbourg?

This future company wants to serve several French and European cities and is launching a crowdfunding campaign for that purpose. A very virtual project at the moment. Explanation.

A new French airline? The announcement is quite rare. Happy Airways presented itself on Monday 22 August as a new operator based in Strasbourg with the ambition to serve 14 destinations in France and Europe (Brussels, Geneva, London, Berlin, Turin, Venice, Milan…) from the capital Alsace. An ambitious announcement, as Happy Airways announces 4,400 flights annually with prices starting at 59.99 euros.

Future Happy Airways Itineraries
Future Happy Airways Itineraries © Happy Airways

“Happy Airways will have from the start a network connecting the main (sic) part of the cities and capitals of the European Union. With an advantageous commercial policy, more comfort and optimized connections, Happy Airways wants to be the company that connects Strasbourg and the European center for the whole world!” can be read on its website.

And to continue: “Moreover, Happy Airways wants to make Strasbourg a multimodal hub, with optimized connections. Happy Airways will make the European Union accessible, at the best price, to the best services through this European capital of fame”.

The company plans to fly 78-seat ATR 72-600 aircraft, in order to “ensure a large and diversified network while limiting operational costs and environmental impact.” A project that is communicated by the international specialized press or regional sites.

Promising. Besides that, Happy Airways is still just a faltering project and most importantly unfunded. On its website, the potential future company says it is “open to the financing options that will be offered to it” and invites “all interested parties to contact the founders of the project. This in the desire to raise the necessary amount. and kick off this beautiful landscaping project with two devices to start with.

Call for investors and crowdfunding

The company indicates that it needs 4.75 million euros but only 1.8 million euros to take off its first plane. A fairly limited budget considering the colossal cost of air flights (aircraft, kerosene, salaries, logistics, etc.). In addition to investors, the company raises donations from individuals through a crowdfunding campaign and also organizes a raffle.

A search of the databases of public companies does not return any company by the name Happy Airways. We managed to trace the creator of this project: a young entrepreneur, Cléo Boberda, passionate about aviation, who claims to have drawn up an accurate business plan. He also adds that he received a warm welcome from the managers of the European airports that his company focuses on. His communication company Azula Agency, specialized in advising influencers on social networks, is behind this aviation project.

A project stalled for 3 years

Contacted by BFM Business, Strasbourg airport shows his questions. “They came to present their project to us three years ago, we have not had any contact with them since then,” said Sandrine Ostrowski, administrative and financial director. “We can’t say if this project is serious,” she says.

As for the economic model, he is calling for a merger for several months with the Danish airline Air Alsie which operates ATR 42/72. The latter would handle the technical aspect (aircraft and maintenance, staff training), turning Happy Airways into a virtual airline.

Just like virtual telecom operators that rent capacity to operators that own networks. This model indeed exists in the air sector, such as Luebeck Air in Germany, which is in reality operated by Air Alsie, which offers this type of service to other companies.

In a statement from the company dated August 25, the company confirms this approach: “Happy Airways will prove to be a ‘virtual’ airline. This means that the company will have a major player who will operate our flights on our behalf. For example, Happy Airways will concentrate on the development and commercial aspect, while Air Alsie takes care of the technical aspect of the operations.”

Contacted by BFM Business, Dennis Rybash, CEO of Air Alsie, “confirms that he has been in contact with people from Happy Airways for some time. Discussions are still at an early stage and it is too early to conclude whether we will have an operational partner be from Happy Airways if the project were to take off”.

On the financing side, Happy Airways states on its site that it has raised 218,000 euros of the total of 4.7 million euros. It is actually equity from the previous activity of this entrepreneur.

No pilot’s license

On the sensitive issue of crowdfunding and the lottery, Happy Airways tells BFM Business that it “gives donors a guarantee that in the event that any amount is not collected, a full refund will be made”.

Finally, remember that all airlines must have a CTA, the certificate issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC), a precious sesame that Happy Airways does not have.

“This company is unknown at the level of the DGAC. We have not been asked to issue an AOC at this stage and we have not had any contact with the managers or with the operational staff of this company,” explains the authority to BFM Business.

In short, the project seems far from advanced and the company’s latest press release admits: “Because the project is being funded, Happy Airways is still in the project and growing step by step”. Crazy dream of an enthusiastic or credible project? The future will tell…

Olivier Chicheportiche Journalist BFM Business

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