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

This future company wants to serve more French and European cities and is launching a crowdfunding campaign to get started. A very virtual project at the moment. Explanations.

A new French airline? The announcement is quite rare. Happy Airways presented on Monday 22 August presents itself 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 of Alsace . . An ambitious announcement since Happy Airways announces 4,400 flights every year with prices starting at 59.99 euros.

Future Happy Airways routes
Future Happy Airways routes © Happy Airways

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

And to continue: “in addition, Happy Airways intends to make Strasbourg a multimodal hub with optimized connections. Happy Airways will make the European Union accessible at the best price for the best services via this European capital of fame”.

The company intends to fly 78-seat ATR 72-600 aircraft to “ensure a large and diversified network while limiting its operating costs as well as its environmental impact”. A project disseminated by the international specialist press or regional websites.

Promising. Apart from that, Happy Airways is still only a stuttering project and especially not funded. On its website, the possible future company says that it is “open to the financing opportunities that will be offered to it” and encourages “all those interested to get in touch with the founders of the project. This in the desire to raise the necessary sum and thus embark on this grand land development project” with two units to start with.

Call for investors and crowdfunding

The company specifies that it needs 4.75 million euros, but only 1.8 million to facilitate its first flight. A rather limited budget considering the colossal costs of air travel (aircraft, petrol, salaries, logistics, etc.). In addition to investors, the company appeals for donations from individuals through a crowdfunding campaign and also organizes a lottery.

A search of public company databases does not return any company named Happy Airways. We managed to track down the originator of this project: a young entrepreneur, Cléo Boberda, passionate about aviation, who claims to have drawn up a precise business plan. He also adds that he received a warm welcome from the managers of the European airports targeted by his company. His communications company, Azula Agency, which specializes in advising influencers on social networks, is behind this airline project.

A project stalled for 3 years

Contacted by BFM Business, Strasbourg Airport shows its questions. “They came to present their project to us three years ago, since then we have had no contact with them,” says Sandrine Ostrowski, administrative and financial director. “We can’t say if this project is serious,” she says.

Regarding the economic model, he calls for a merger in a few months with the Danish airline Air Alsie, which operates the ATR 42/72. The latter would run the technical aspect (aircraft and maintenance, staff training), making Happy Airways a virtual airline.

Like virtual telecom operators that lease capacity to operators that own networks. This model actually exists in the air sector, like Luebeck Air in Germany, which is actually operated by Air Alsie, which offers this type of service to other airlines.

In a statement from the company on August 25, the company confirms this approach: “Happy Airways will turn out to be a ‘virtual’ airline. This means that the company will get a key player who will operate our flights on our behalf. In this way, Happy Airways will concentrate on the development and the commercial aspect, while Air Alsie will take care of the technical aspect of the operation.”

Contacted by BFM Business, Dennis Rybash, CEO Air Alsie confirms “having been in contact with people from Happy Airways for some time now. Discussions are still at an early stage and it is too early to conclude whether we are a partner operational of Happy Airways, should the project take off”.

On the funding side, Happy Airways states on its website that it has raised 218,000 euros out of a total of 4.7 million euros. It is actually equity from this entrepreneur’s past activity.

No flight certificate

On the sensitive issue of crowdfunding and the lottery, Happy Airways tells BFM Business that it “gives assurance to contributors that in the event that a sum is not raised, 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 DGAC level. We have not been asked to issue an AOC at this time and we have not had contact with the managers or with the operational staff of this company” the authority explains to BFM Business.

In short, the project appears to be far from advanced, and the company’s latest press release admits: “Because the project is in the process of being financed, Happy Airways is still in the project and growing step by step”. A crazy dream of an enthusiast or a credible project? The future will tell…

Olivier Chicheportiche Journalist BFM Business

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