UK's Firnas Airways seeks to attract GCC investors

The fledgling airline is looking to attract up to US $1.29 million (AED4.73 million) in capital raised via, a Dubai-based equity crowdfunding platform

British entrepreneur Kazi Shafiqur Rahman, is the airline’s founder and CEO.
British entrepreneur Kazi Shafiqur Rahman, is the airline’s founder and CEO.

UK-based airline Firnas Airways has launched an equity crowd-funding campaign targeting Gulf-based investors.

The airline, which plans to introduce short-haul services between the UK and select European destinations in 2018, is seeking up to US $1.29 million (AED4.73 million) in capital raised via, an equity crowdfunding platform headquartered in Dubai.

The investment target represents the largest capital round raised to date on the platform. The airline’s founder and CEO, British entrepreneur Kazi Shafiqur Rahman, believes GCC investors will recognise the potential of the airline’s growth strategy, which aims to tap currently unserved and underserved routes that present commercial opportunities.

“We have identified several short-haul routes with strong, currently unmet demand that we feel offer huge potential for growth,” he said. “We will offer passengers unique services on the ground and in the air, which will position our offering between the austere budget operators and the expensive full-service carriers that charge for extras many passengers don't require.”

Rahman said Firnas Airways will launch with a fleet of 19-seater aircraft, which will enable the airline to “build the required infrastructure to successfully operate with minimal capital outlay”.

The airline is currently assessing a number of routes in Northern Europe that promise high load factors and strong returns. The launch fleet will be replaced by larger aircraft as demand increases. High-volume routes up to six hours’ flying time from the UK will lead the airline’s second phase international expansion strategy.

“We are confident these routes will provide a strong platform for long-term growth,” said Rahman. “We have a credible business plan focusing on unmet demand with a target of 300-500% ROI within five years.”

Long term, Firnas Airways intends to launch long-haul operations to key destinations in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, with a view to competing with the UK’s established long-haul, full-service carriers, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.

Rahman said the equity crowd-funding initiative provided savvy Gulf investors with the rare opportunity to gain a foothold in the UK’s booming commercial aviation sector on the eve of the country’s withdrawal from the European Union.

“We, like many within the UK business community, view Brexit as a chance to rethink our approach to international trade and investment, and to pursue new business opportunities unshackled by the restrictions imposed by the EU,” he said.

“With sterling trading at historic lows, the equity funding scheme offers GCC investors an opportunity to claim a stake in the UK’s newest airline while gaining unprecedented value on their investment.”

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