Baby Branson launches low-cost carrier

8th Feb 2010
Baby Branson launches low-cost carrier

An airline entrepreneur dubbed “Baby Branson” after launching a low-cost carrier as a teenager is back in business following the collapse of his first venture.

Now aged 23, Martin Halstead is launching Varsity Express next month, offering flights between Oxford and Edinburgh.

The airline aims to offer fast, affordable air travel, where the customer always comes first. A blanket charge of £49 single will apply on all flights till 12 March.

Halstead shot to as a 19-year-old when he started Alpha One Airways, a low-cost carrier offering flights between Oxford and Cambridge. However the business folded just six weeks after launch.

He has since held a number of positions within the aviation industry, including working as a flight attendant on Branson’s Virgin Atlantic. He also secured an air transport licence at the Oxford Air Training School at the age of 18.


He would not disclose the identity of Varsity’s backers but they are understood to be a group of British businessmen with property interests in the Canary Islands, according to The Times. The deal could eventually give him a half-share in the company.

The Oxford to Edinburgh flights — in an 18-seat Jetstream — will run only on weekdays. Halstead is already looking at adding another route.


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