Whippersnapper launches UK airline

Teenager takes to the skies

A 19-year-old pilot launched his own UK airline today as he took the controls of a BAE Jetstream 31 between Southampton and the Isle of Man - the maiden flight for a business Martin Halstead hopes will carry 75,000 punters in its first year.

The "baby Branson" thought up the idea for Alpha One Airways while sitting in a coffee shop pondering his future as a commercial pilot, the BBC reports. He bought one jet and has leased another for the ticketless airborne outfit, although he does say that "complimentary in-flight refreshments will be included in the price", which makes a nice change for a "punch and kick your way to the best seats" operation.

Halstead admitted: "I'm probably the only airline boss in the UK who will actually fly the planes," adding that he considers his age no impediment to making a go of it. "Age is just a number. I plan to bring an innovative, 21st Century approach to regional aviation and I also have an older, experienced team to call on," he added.

Alpha One Airways boasts 26 staff and plans to fly between smaller destinations where the big boys decline to tread. The Isle of Man to Edinburgh and Cardiff are future planned routes, but for the time being the airline will operate twice daily between Isle of Man - Southampton and Isle of Man - Blackpool, from 21 November. ®

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