New Christian Airline Says They’ll Launch in Texas This Summer

The world’s first “Christian-based airline” says they’ll launch by summer. Judah 1 currently has a single McDonnell Douglas MD MD83 aircraft and intends to operate from North Texas Regional Airport sixty miles Northeast of Dallas Fort-Worth. Their intended market is missionaries “and support efforts across the world.” They have plans for a Boeing 767 — and to eventually acquire 20 aircraft by 2024.


Credit: Judah 1

So is there demand for something like this?

  • A Christian airline might have been necessary as an alternative had either Hooters Air or Naked Air ever really taken off. In the current environment though I think we’re all already praying every time we have to deal with one of the major US airlines, so it’s not clear an airline whose motto is “Your Hands, God’s LOVE, Our Wings” serves an unmet need.

  • On the other hand there may be unmet investor interest. I seem to recall that Southwest Airlines founding President Lamar Muse relayed the story in his book Southwest Passage that one of the carrier’s original investors committed funds on the promise that they would install glass ceilings in their aircraft so that passengers could look up at heaven.

They have a single MD83 at this point yet most mission trips are international. Indeed the airline sees its mission as spreading “the message of the Lord to billions of people, via flight” they have both said they no plans to expand internationally and mentioned the possibility of close-in international flights within the MD83’s range — but not flying where there are actually billions of people.

At the same time mission trips tend to be seasonal (when students are out of school) and most mission groups smaller than what an MD83 carries.

Perhaps they can keep costs especially low if it turns out that televangelist Kenneth Copeland is correct that G-d performs aircraft maintenance. Costs will need to be low since they’ve committed to no checked bag fees.

With “regular prices similar to its secular competitors” but lower fees and a willingess to “only accept members of mission teams” they’re limiting both revenue and customer base. They do say hope springs eternal, after all.

The airline’s CEO Everett Aaron says his plan was divinely inspired in 1994:

The Lord spoke to me about using my passion for aviation – specifically large aircraft, I saw rows and rows of aircraft, full of food and supplies, lines of them.

My question for Mr. Aaron is this: what does the Lord’s voice sound like, and will he try to replicate it for inflight announcements?

Here’s their promotional video from 2015:

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Sounds like a tax avoidance scheme. Sort of like the real estate “churches” where the small group of “worshipers” meet every Sunday to prayerfully discuss the church’s real estate investments.

  2. Which version of Christianity will guide them? Roman Catholicism, mainstream American Protestantism, Orthodoxy– or the narrow-minded, hate-filled dogma that is so common among America’s far-right “Christians”?

  3. One of the linked articles talks of plans to go to places in Central and South America and the Caribbean where indeed there is significant such traffic. A couple of other points are a maintenance facility that would accept work from DFW, a shipping service, and a charter rather than scheduled operation. I’m really skeptical about any plans just to fly missionaries, Christian volunteers and the like. There’s a market for that for sure, but how regularly to any given destination to support a dedicated aircraft on a given date? You might be able to fill a flight to PAP or GUA on a summer Saturday, but I doubt that will ever make a viable business.

    One thing that intrigues me is the use of a satellite airport rather than DFW. I think with the example of Paine serving the northern part of the Seattle market, we’ll see more efforts to expand services via such airports. I think there’s an opportunity for a creative entrepreneur with deep pockets to develop a Ryanair like (skipping the awful service and fees) operation that focuses in part on secondary or tertiary airports near population centers – places that are a closer than the major airport to some of the market (not really the case for for DFW specifically) and avoiding the hubs. With it being nearly impossible to build or expand a major airport in the U.S. these days, and with gate, slot and ATC limitations at many places and ever increasing demand for air travel, why not take a hard look at growing facilities like these?

  4. Interesting. Some carriers do have religious distinctives. Flying various carriers based in the Middle East, I’ve seen the following:
    A prayer from the Quran begins the safety video and passengers, having just been instructed to put away their headsets and listen to it, have little option not to listen to it.
    Wine, if served at all, is not carried & refilled in business class, but has to be asked for, and a bottle is retrieved from the rear galley, brought to the front of the aircraft, wrapped thoroughly the entire time (in a large napkin or tablecloth) and remains wrapped whilst one glass is poured, and is returned to the rear.
    Over-aisle monitors display not the air-show/flight path, nor nothing at all, but an illustration the relationship of the direction of the aircraft to the direction of Mecca, so passengers can pray facing accordingly.

    Given these distinctives to Islam, I suppose then that there’s room at the “table” for an airline with “Christian” distinctives as well.

  5. There are other missionary based airlines and organizations https://www.missionaryflights.org/ for example. This one is just trying to be more mainstream and use larger aircraft. There is a lot of demand for Christian travel and Christian organizations book tons of flights every year but to me it isn’t that much different than business travel demand. Sure a corporation or a trade group could start it’s own airline or own it’s own planes but they can’t fly everywhere. One of the major issues with many missionary trips is the lack of cargo they can afford to take. Many times they need to check or ship large amounts of aid items. If they have to pay large baggage or airline cargo fees it impacts that mission. Also if they ship items Inter-modal or through certain parts of the world the locals will steal much of what is shipped. For example I know a group that supports an orphanage in Northern Haiti. They are forced to fly into Haiti and buy goods on the ground to take to the rural site for children. It is tough to find some goods and they also have to pay much more than if people donated the goods and could ship them there. If l could fly on such an airline to Haiti they would be much more effective there. Sure it’s an easy target to make fun of and haters will hate on this but it’s not all bibles rosaries that they need to ship. Mostly it’s tools, building materials, school supplies, clothing. Many short term missionaries will pack baggage allotments with these supplies and forgo their own clothing. It’s also getting tougher since airlines are charging more or allowing less free bags even on long haul flights. My opinion about this airline making it isn’t very good since it just cost so much to maintain aircraft, fuel, etc. but I hope they are successful.

  6. Missionaries … in position to fly?

    Does one have to show their anti-LGBTQ card to buy a ticket?

    Will the ownership be a religious organization and thus tax exempt?

  7. One of their planes will be brought down by a member of the religion of peace within 3 months of first flight.

  8. I would assume if there were a strong market for international flight dedicated to missionaries, the Mormons would have tried already. As far I know they tend to just fly Delta.

  9. Wow. Someone wants to do something good and you all just crap on it. There are still good people out there. Definitely better people than the nasty nay-sayer readers on this website.

  10. Ouch Gary, pretty cynical article. Not sure crushing the little guy with faith is a beneficial way to write. It seems in your other cynical articles usually you are able to communicate positive/negative, this one seems to lack a bit on the positive.
    Christian based aviation organizations bring food, medicine, hope, cultural change all over the world, many at significant risk and cost to themselves ie maf.org. Ever tried fundraising? It’s very humbly work.
    I admit the video a little cheesy and there are some bad examples of people using aviation with Christianity very poorly, ie private jets to shuttle themselves in extreme comfort, but I didn’t see that here.
    Hope they can have a positive impact on people’s lives, at least the possibility of this is more admirable than public company’s whose entire concern is finance.
    Not sure they are useful for me, but I’m rooting for them to succeed if they stay properly transparent in their finances and operations.

    PS wouldn’t be bad if you wrote something about MAF or other organizations that take high risks for others with little monetary compensation.

  11. “Christian based aviation organizations bring food, medicine, hope, cultural change all over the world, many at significant risk and cost to themselves ie maf.org. Ever tried fundraising? It’s very humbly work.”

    Absolutely.

    But none of that changes that this airline’s business model is problematic at best.

  12. I guess nobody has told them what a terrible idea this is? If they want to quickly get rid of a ton of money, they should donate it to sick or poor people that churches pretend to care about; it will have the same ROI as this. Everybody thinks they can make money starting an airline with a half-baked, niche idea, and it never works. The only question is how long will they fly for before they finally run out of cash, and god himself can’t save them?

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