Martin Halstead is an ambitious and visionary 19 year old. He runs Alpha One Airways, based on the Isle of Man and much has been made of the fact that he is hailed as the next Richard Branson – his own website calls him ‘baby Branson’!
Martin knew he wanted a career in aviation from a young age. He was flying to Prague flying from the age of six to visit his father.
A former pupil at Abingdon School and then D’Overbroecks College, he decided not to continue with his A’ levels (he was studying Business/Commerce, History and English Literature) and instead pursue a pilot’s career. He then signed up to take an air transport licence at the Oxford Air Training School, aged 18.
Prior to setting up Alpha One last June, Martin set up a flight simulation software venture, for trainee pilots. He used the money made from this venture as working capital to start his airline. He also secured a family friend as a small investor from a modest inheritance from his grandmother to finance Alpha 1 Airways.
The airline initially looked at starting flights between Oxford and Cambridge, but switched its plans in September following a fortuitous meeting with the Isle of Man Government, which convinced Martin to start flights there. Martin moved to the Isle of Man early in January and crews will be based there.
Alpha 1 Airways now employs 10 people. Scheduled services commenced between Edinburgh and the Isle of Man on 14 December, initially with an eight seat Navajo Chieftain turboprop. Alpha One’s first BAE SYSTEMS Jetsream 31, 18-seater debuts on 30 January. Once the Edinburgh route is firmly bedded in, Alpha One will look to develop other routes. It is interested in Leeds and Cardiff, both from the Isle of Man.
Martin was quoted in the Times saying “My passion is starting things up and nurturing them. I’d like to be comfortable, but it’s not about millions of pounds. I want to make a mark. There’s something very satisfying about knowing there’s a plane going from one place to another because you’ve told it to. It’s not megalomania, it’s doing it because you’ve come up with the idea.”