Europe’s latest low-cost airline has started running services today. Varsity Express, which becomes the only airline to fly between Oxford and Edinburgh, is being masterminded by Martin Halsted, the 23-year-old airline entrepreneur dubbed “Baby Branson” after his attempt to launch a low-cost carrier as a teenager.
Now aged 23, Halstead said: “Varsity Express is a completely different proposition. A well funded operation, running on the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) of established Humberside-based Jetstream 31 LinksAir. This is a small, niche operator that is not setting out to compete with established larger players. Rather we hope to be able to work with them in the future,” he said.
The airline aims to offer fast, affordable air travel, where the customer always comes first.
It said it is satisfied with the forward bookings to date. It selected Edinburgh because it was the number one requested destination from Oxford by business travellers, although it is seeing traffic from both business and leisure users.
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.