A new ski specialist airline has postponed its launch and cancelled all flights before any of its planes have so much as taken off – leaving 5000 winter holidaymakers in the lurch.
The first flights with Powdair from six UK airports to Sion airport in Switzerland were due to start later this month. However, a statement released by the nascent carrier last week said: “Our key financial backer [has] walked away from the Powdair journey for personal reasons.”
A week after its first statement Powdair has today announced it will be postponing all flights for this winter following talks with potential new investors – all customers are to receive a full refund.
Powdair is just the latest in a series of airline flops. Here are five of the most ill-conceived airline concepts that failed to take off.
German financier Alexander Schoppmann said he was coming to the rescue of nicotine lovers all over the world, when, in June 2006, he announced the launch of Smintair – an airline which allow passengers to smoke throughout the journey. A triple portmanteau of Smoker’s International Airways, the carrier promised to “bring back the exclusivity in flying encountered in the 1960s”.
“The upper deck will be the passengers’ lounge and not be jammed with seats, as you can sadly find everywhere, nowadays,” the website added.
“Allergics against tobacco smoke or militant anti-smokers are asked to not apply,” said Smintair on its jobs page.
Flights from Dusseldorf to Nagoya, Japan were mooted, but, alas, the $49 million needed to turn it from idea into reality was never raised.
Seriously, this existed for three glorious years. It was conceived as an unconventional way of raising awareness of the restaurant chain, but expanded to encompass a fleet of seven aircraft covering 17 destinations, including The Bahamas, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Las Vegas. Two “Hooters Girls”, wearing the standard skimpy attire, assisted the (conventionally dressed) cabin crew, and the carrier did its best to woo affluent travellers with plenty of legroom and free meals on all flights over an hour. It ceased operations in 2006, and is estimated to have cost the firm $40m.
Hardly an “airline”, as it operated for just one flight in 2003, this brainchild of Castaways Travel, a Houston-based “clothing optional” (and still in business) firm, shuttled fliers from Miami to Cancun wearing nothing but their birthday suits. The idea was picked up in 2008 by a (surprise, surprise) German travel agency, which flew nude sunseekers from the city of Erfurt to the (rather chilly) Baltic seaside.
Overestimating the demand among dogs for a week in the sun, Pet Airways unveiled itself in 2009, offering fares based on the size of the animal and the distance travellers. Pets (“pawsengers” is how the carrier described them), were checked in at the airport by their owners, who could then track their progress online. Operations were handled by Nebraska-based Suburban Air Freight, but financial problems surfaced in 2012 and the following year it was consigned to airline heaven.
Aussie pilot Craig Justo launched this oddity in 2006, offering randy couples the chance to join the Mile High Club in his twin-engine Beech H-18S. $725 bought each couple bubbly, bedding and an hour in the sky – plus a certificate to take home. Needless to say it didn’t take off.