On August 24, 1989, an airline was founded with the aim of flying from New York City to Russia – 31 years later, USGlobal Airways still hasn’t managed to fly a single commercial flight. Key.Aero details the fascinating backstory to this unique carrier
It may sound farfetched, but USGlobal Airways really hasn’t flown a commercial service despite owning two aircraft and raising millions of dollars in investment from shareholders over the years. The airline was founded by Igor Dmitrowsky in New York City as Baltia Air Lines and in 1991 was given the authority by the US Department of Transport to operate flights to Leningrad and Riga from the Big Apple.
During its initial years of certification, Dmitrowsky was said to have made decisions which delayed the process but in 1996, seven years after being set up, Baltia gained permission to operate flights from New York to St Petersburg in Russia.
The only problem was that it still didn’t own any aircraft, so in 1998 it put down a $100,000 deposit on an ex-Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-200. Unfortunately, the airline didn’t have enough start-up capital to complete the sale and subsequently couldn’t begin flying in the United States after its route authority was revoked.
Just under ten years later, the airline received more money from investors and once again filed for route permission from New York to the capital of Russia which is was granted shortly after.
In July 2009, 20 years after the company was started, Baltia completed the acquisition of its first aircraft, a Boeing 747-200. The widebody N705BL, (c/n 21035) was originally delivered to TAP Air Portugal in October 1975 but was then sold to Pakistan International Airlines in April 1976. The jet was retired from service in 2005 and stored at Marana Pinal Airpark for five years until it was delivered to Baltia in August 2010. The airline reportedly paid less than half a million dollars for the aircraft, which didn’t come with any engines.
The choice of an older, less fuel-efficient aircraft was notable. Of course, there were lower upfront costs, but the running expenses would have been significantly higher.
For some unknown reason, the aircraft was moved to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia during 2010 and never returned to the US. It was eventually broken up at the facility in June 2012.
In March 2011, Baltia purchased a second 747-200, this time a former Northwest Airlines example. The widebody N706BL (c/n 21705), was originally delivered to the American carrier in 1979 and was bought by Delta Air Lines in 2008 before being procured by Michigan-based airline Kalitta Air in 2010.
History appeared to repeat itself because three years later in December 2014, the jet was placed into storage at Oscoda/Wurtsmith airport in Michigan and removed from the airline’s fleet.
Now with no aircraft to fly, Baltia was back at square one. This, however, didn’t stop it from sponsoring the Thunder Over Michigan air show at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti that year.
Rebranding and Restructuring
During a May 2017 shareholder meeting, it was announced that Baltia Air Lines would be rebranded as USGlobal Airways and would move its operations to Stewart International Airport, which is located around 60 miles (97km) north of Manhattan.
The following month, it was announced that the company would acquire the assets and air operators’ certificate of Songbird Airways, a Florida-based charter airline. Doing this would have been a fast-track route to start flying as they would have most of the approvals required to begin operations.
The agreed price was set at $6.2m, with a $1m deposit being placed the same month. In September that year, the company entered into a stock purchase agreement with AerLine Holdings for the purchase of Songbird at an aggregate price of $6.5m, with a closing date set for the following month. In November it was revealed that the deal had been terminated.
The airline has not flown a single commercial flight in its 31-year history despite a move to Michigan where it is reported to be easier to obtain FAA approval. It has failed all its certification tests seven times according to The Telegraph.