New Orleans Entrepreneur Launches Air Carrier GLO, Restoring Non-Stop Air Service Across The South
By: Adriana Lopez | Forbes | 9/29/2015
They say necessity is the mother of invention. So, what happens when New Orleans loses a few important, direct flights to nearby cities along the Mid-South region post-Katrina? Some travelers were relegated to creating longer, more arduous travel itineraries that included multiple flights or longer drives. New Orleans entrepreneur Trey Fayard, however, didn’t just create a new flight schedule; he founded an air carrier.
Beginning in November, New Orleans-based GLO, operated by Corporate Flight Management, Inc., will begin running daily, non-stop flights from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY). Round-trip air service will be provided to Little Rock’s Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (LIT), Memphis International Airport (MEM) and Shreveport Regional Airport (SHV).
Up until now, many professionals were left with new challenges when flights were discontinued after Hurricane Katrina. It wasn’t just business travelers from New Orleans who were inconvenienced, but those who traveled to New Orleans from around the underserved southern region, as well. Short one-hour flights turned into grueling travel itineraries with layovers. One-day business trips turned into extended overnight stays. For some, those interactive, face-to-face meetings turned into conference calls, in an effort to avoid the complicated travel.
“This is the single biggest opportunity for Entergy,” said Mike Maulden, Director of Business and Economic Development for Entergy Arkansas, Inc., a sizeable affiliate of New Orleans-headquartered Entergy. “For us, there will be an increase of productivity and decreased expenses.”
Maulden explained that with monthly back and forth travel between New Orleans and Little Rock, quick business trips became lengthy and costly with the added hotel room expenses. For many employees who traveled weekly, that meant even more time away from the office and home. Besides the economic opportunity the daily flights will provide to businesses, Maulden added that GLO could create a huge tourism effect, as well.
“The Gulf South is the rising economic power of The U.S.,” said Michael Hecht, CEO of New Orleans economic development organization GNO, Inc. “Connecting the nodes of that power is going to be an important driver of growth, and GLO will provide that connection.”
In the years following Katrina, Louisiana has witnessed a growth of both established and new industries, including technology and film. GLO’s ability to connect cities along the Southeast and Gulf Coast will further help foster that economic development in the region, while reestablishing New Orleans’ title as a major U.S. entrepot.
“Greater New Orleans is rising by going back to the future,” added Hecht. “Returning to dominance in ways, and reopening the gateway to America.” New Orleans has also seen a growth in entrepreneurship and innovation, specifically in Information Technology. However, it’s safe to say, that no one else had realized an opportunity quite like Fayard did.
“I was basically acting as a defacto charter broker for my buddies and friends and, frankly, people I didn’t even know,” said Trey Fayard, Founder and CEO of GLO. “I figured if other people were struggling as much as I was to get around the Gulf States and Mid-South, there must be an opportunity there.”
Fayard, an attorney who worked in the oil and shipping industry, started organizing chartered business trips, as it got more difficult to schedule travel along the South. With the continued economic growth of the South, the lawyer-turned-moonlighting-charter-flight-broker decided to invest a little money and toy around with the idea of starting an airline.
“In the summer of 2010, I came to a fork in the road, and decided to take a big risk,” said Fayard about his decision to embark on a new entrepreneurial journey. “It was a very daunting process, but I had a huge fear of waking up at 50 years old and seeing that someone else had my same idea and the willingness to go for it. That was a motivating factor.”
While Fayard’s ultimate goal is to make money, as most entrepreneurs aspire to do, part of his mission includes helping New Orleans and the surrounding communities connect and create prosperous economic opportunities.
“GLO’s announcement today is evident of the opportunities that abound within our great city,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “This New Orleans-based operation is creating more job opportunities and better connectivity within our region that will further benefit our community.”
Although GLO has yet to face any competitors with the same route, the air carrier is providing comfort beyond that offered on standard, commercial airlines. CFM will operate 30-passenger Saab 340B aircraft on GLO’s new routes. According to the Saab Group, “The Saab 340B is a favorite among aircraft passengers, offering flexibility, comfort and reliability, while operators also value it for its cost-effective performance capabilities.” GLO passengers will have up to 36 inches of pitch (space between edge of seat and seat back) – well above the average size of standards seat pitch of 31 inches.
GLO will also offer an exclusive membership to frequent travelers, The GLO Black Card. The membership will provide business travelers with locked in travel rates for one year, plus include access to other premiere benefits such as priority seating on every flight. In anticipation of its launch in New Orleans, GLO has provided a promotional one-way $189 GLO Saver fare (tax included).
“New Orleans has become one of the most entrepreneurial regions in America,” said Hecht. “ Importantly, this innovation occurring in new industries (like IT), but also in legacy industries like aviation, where new ideas are taking flight.”