Founded in 1989, this is the story about how USGlobal Airways is the oldest American startup airline that has still not had a single flight. Despite being in business for more than 30 years and owning a Boeing 747-200 for 20 of them, USGlobal Airways has never flown.
Conceived before the break-up of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the plan was to offer flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) to various destinations in Russia and the Baltic States. Initially calling itself Baltia Airlines, its founder Igor Dmitrowsky made a series of decisions that delayed the airline’s certification.
Baltia wanted to fly between New York and St. Petersburg
In 1998 Baltia got permission to fly from JFK to Pulkovo Airport (LED) in St. Petersburg. Thinking that it was about to launch revenue-making flights, Baltia deposited money to acquire an ex Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-200. Despite securing the plane, the United States Department of Transportation deemed the airline to not be sufficiently funded and revoked its license to operate in the United States.
Baltia managed to convince more investors of its plan to fly between the US and Russia and filed to begin flying between the two countries once more. Still needing an aircraft in 2009, Baltia bought a former Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 747-200 and later a Northwest Airlines Boeing 747-200. The Pakistani jumbo jet was scrapped at Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (SZB) in Malaysia. The Northwest plane suffered the same fate in November 2020 when it too was scrapped at it Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport (OSC) in Michigan.
Baltia rebranded as USGlobal Airways
After receiving the backing of the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to continue seeking certification, Baltia announced in 2017 that the airline would be rebranding itself as USGlobal Airways. Having now given up on the idea of flying 747s between New York and Eastern Europe, USGlobal Airways said it was moving its operations to New York Stewart International Airport (SWF) 60 miles up the Hudson from Manhattan. From its hub at SWF, US Global said it would become a regional airline offering passengers flights from Stewart to the following airports:
- Albany International Airport (ALB) in upstate New York
- Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) in Maryland
- Long Island MacArthur Airport (ISP) on New York’s Long Island
- Trenton–Mercer Airport (TTN) in New Jersey
Once more changing plans, Baltia or USGlobal Airways as it was called now decided to fly from New York Stewart International Airport (SWF) to underserved European cities. This strategy was later exercised by Norwegian Air until it encountered financial problems and stopped all transatlantic flights.
The idea of flying between underserved international airports has never gone away and is something Norse Atlantic Airways and Icelandic startup Play plan to do starting this summer. While USGlobal Airways never got its plan off the ground, it did in 2017 sign a letter of intent with Michigan’s Kalitta Air to lease a Boeing 767-300ER.
Was it all a scam?
Having never flown a single flight in more than 30 years has many people wondering whether or not the whole thing was a scam. In 2014 the airline had a market capitalization of $70 million, so it was not like there was no money. Now, after not having filed financial reports for two years the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoked the company stock leaving USGlobal Airways with nothing but a name.
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