If you are a regular Boarding Area reader, you have probably heard of Baltia Air Lines. It’s the airline with a single 747 that has never flown a passenger since it was founded in 1989. The company had “planned” to fly between New York to St. Petersburg in Russia, but has never really gotten anything done. They have been actively seeking for investors, but at this point are most likely just swindling money rather than trying to start an airline. Baltia, of course, denies these claims.
In its 27-year history, the airline has never flown a single passenger, delivered a single piece of cargo, or even generated any revenue. In January 2016, the founder of the airline passed away, leaving the airline in the hands of Russell Thal, who became the Chairman of the Board, CEO, President, and Director.
Then in February, Baltia reported that they are still working to get certification from the FAA. In March, the airline announced that they are abandoning the single aircraft in their fleet, and that they would be looking for a more fuel-efficient aircraft to aid in the FAA certification process.
Later in March, the SEC’s Enforcement Division launched an investigation into Barry Clare, the VP of Finance at Baltia, for acting “as an unregistered broker for sales of Baltia’s common stock to investors.” Basically, Clare solicited up to $26 million in investments in the airline, and pocketed $1.7 million in “commissions.” But in May 2016, Baltia still maintained that they are working hard to launch the airline.
Well, what do you know? CEO Russell Thal resigned at the end of October 2016, and Baltia now has a new President, Anthony D. Koulouris, who was previously the VP of Marketing. Interestingly, they also got Conrad Kalitta onboard as a member of the Board. Kalitta actually serves as CEO of Kalitta Air, an actual (cargo) airline. This is what the new President of Baltia has to say (emphasis mine):
My vision for this airline is to create a brand that will fill an important and much needed niche in international travel. This will require re-branding, re-structuring and the ability to forge new relationships with vendors and business partners. We will leverage existing technologies and enhance efficiencies to create a model that will provide profitability and multiple revenue streams upon implementation. Part of the aforementioned restructuring will include re-capitalization, streamlining of the balance sheet as well as becoming current with all required SEC filings. With regards to re-branding, a new name has been chosen that will better represent the ambitions and future of this company as a US airline.
Vision, Communication, Collaboration, Dedication, Accountability…..these are the principles I would like to instill into the new corporate culture of this company.
I doubt anything is actually going to change about Baltia. The “airline’s” strategy seems to be changing its personnel around, or announcing something mundane (like “we are getting in contact with catering providers”) to keep projecting the image that they are trying as hard as they can to actually launch the airline.
It’s still a fascinating story though!