All she needs is money. . . .

klhoard

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Ambition takes flight
Don't try to toss cold water on her plans for airline
By Jane Roberts
Contact
November 2, 2005
When Penelope Turnbow tells you her plans for starting Victory Airlines, save your breath on the airline doom and gloom stuff.
She's so far beyond that, you're going to end up feeling like a rain cloud on her sunny outlook.



It's partly because the industry is so desperate that she's pulling for Victory, the national airline she intends to launch in 2007, perhaps in Memphis, with 50 new Boeing 737s, her own cadre of "customer touch people" -- pilots, flight attendants and ticket agents -- and almost nothing else.
No computer system, no maintenance hangars, no mechanics -- and more to the point -- no tiered pricing strategies, cancellation fees or guessing if your ticket will the cost the same next month as it did this month.
It will, Turnbow says.
"People want to know when they are going, what they are going to pay and where they are going to sit. They want certainty."
If visitors looked dazed, she asks the next question. "If you have to go to
Nashville four days next week, will your ticket cost the same each day? Can you guarantee your bag won't get lost?"
They move in closer.
Turnbow "rejects" the concept of business and leisure travelers, saying simply, "I want what I want regardless of the reason I'm flying."
And if you need to change your flight? "You'll do that yourself, probably on your cell phone," she says. No charge.
"People think it's price, price, price. That's not what they told us," said Turnbow, 41, an entrepreneur since at least age 8 when she asked her father for a calculator for Christmas so she could help him add up his receipts instead of simply collecting them.
He owned Turnbow Trucking in Savannah, Tenn. She's not only the first in her family to graduate from college, she also earned a master's and a law degree -- all from the University of Memphis -- then joined the legal department at FedEx Corp., where she continued to steep herself in transportation and gathered a mantle of mentors around her.
Victory, she says, will meet needs of travelers in middle-class America in an industry that has not stratified to appeal to market segment, unlike automobile manufacturers, hospitality and retail.
Turnbow now needs to raise $100 million before the Department of Transportation will take her seriously. She refuses to say who her investors are, per Security and Exchange Commission rules, except that the deepest pockets have been in the Northeast.
"The whole concept of Victory is to innovate," she said. "We don't feel the industry has even started down that road."
Five years after the airline is funded, Turnbow expects to have 1,500 employees, flying "from Point A to Point B three or four times a day."
In the 18 months since she quit corporate attorney work to start Victory, she's interviewed "more than a thousand people" and bought enough consumer surveys to confirm that 18 percent of the traveling public wants a carrier like Victory.
Tickets would be sold on Victory's Web site and through travel agents but definitely not through Expedia.com and other sites that also happen to be owned by the major airlines.
Much of the labor would be sourced to U.S. contractors.
"We're not doing it to save costs. We're doing it because it allows us to take advantage of the deep experience at Boeing and the deep experience at Unisys," she says.
She has relationships with both companies, including plenty of discussions with Boeing, the company that would manufacture her planes.
While outsourcing is not new in aviation, niche marketing is new and looking smart, said David Treitel, president of SH&E International Air Transport consultants in New York.
"What we see happening in international markets is a very clear stratification," he said.
Two new airlines, Eos and Maxjet, are targeting business-class travelers in flights from New York and Washington to London's Stansted airport. Eos began flying in mid-October. Maxjet starts today.
"But in the domestic context, where you serve and what markets you're going to fly is critical," Treitel said.
Turnbow has identified 14 cities she says "would welcome our service in the United States because they are underserved or overpriced."
Memphis, she adds "needs more airlines serving this airport."
Turnbow is considering five cities as potential headquarters cities. Pittsburgh is one. Memphis is another.
Experts agree with Turnbow's industry assessments to a point.
"She has a point about certainty, and she has a point about outsourcing," said David Field, Americas editor of Airline Business. "But starting an airline is inherently risky under any circumstances, and now it's more risky than ever."
And it's not true that other airlines have not differentiated themselves, he said.
"JetBlue appeals to a hipper, slightly more sophisticated audience. AirTran doesn't tend to be as hip, but it has satellite radio."
The takeaway, he said, is that location and market share matter.
"JetBlue wouldn't have worked anywhere but New York because it has a larger demographic of people willing to pay more for style.
"You cannot forget the absolute fundamental basics; you've got to have a home base with lots of people who want to fly. Memphis and Pittsburgh don't have it," he said.
Turnbow is unfazed. With a management team of 17 hand-chosen "shareholders," including Philip Roberts, the well-known aviation economist who once directed travel for Ford Motor Co., and Kelly Cole, the onetime Turner Broadcasting producer and strategist behind Skechers shoes, she's pursuing investors, including Memphians.
"People have told me all my life to wait my turn," she says. "They say, 'When you're 40, you'll be ready.'
"Well, I was born 40, and I'm going to stay 40," she says with the confidence of a woman who learned as a kid how to back a semi-trailer tractor into a parking spot.
"All we need is money. Frankly, there's prejudice right now against this industry from the investment community," she said. "But we know there are people out there who see opportunity." --Jane Roberts 529-2512
 

Sinca3

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psysix....You've been at flightinfo for 2 days and you already have 41 post!?!?!? Busy-body!
By the way the airline doesn't exist yet!!
 

P-Dawg_QX

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How long on reserve, and how long til upgrade?
 

AA717driver

A simpler time...
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"$30k/yr. as 737 Capt.? Signe me up. Can't wait to make it to the big time!"

Sincerely,

90% of the Aviation grads in the past two years. :rolleyes:
 

klhoard

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.
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I heard they're also buying E190's . . . .
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$10/hour F/O. . . .
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jbDC9

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psysix said:
Do they have any west coast bases?

What's the QOL like at Victory airlines?
Dude, shut up already with the stupid questions. In two days you've made 47 completely worthless, crap posts... are you intentionally trying to look like an idiot?
 
P

psysix

Since they are to be based at MEM, will they have a flow through to FedEx or Pinnacle?
 

needsumluv

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University Of Memphis WOW now those are impressive credentials Oh and the fact she has no airline experience where do I buy this Greaaaat stock.

What a joke can believe some fools are taking her seriously
 

m80drvr

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aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh yes the elusive Padre'. Wonder whatever happened to him. He did exist, I met him in SYR. Nice guy though, just full of too many underfunded dreams.
 

dixieflyer

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QUOTE:"Since they are to be based at MEM, will they have a flow through to FedEx or Pinnacle?"



No.
 

stonewall

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needsumluv said:
University Of Memphis WOW now those are impressive credentials Oh and the fact she has no airline experience where do I buy this Greaaaat stock.

What a joke can believe some fools are taking her seriously
No airline experience? Good. Look at what the dudes WITH experience have done lately. I'd say that's a plus for her...and her (potential) employees.
 

Max Powers

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MAGNUM!! said:
No airline experience? Good. Look at what the dudes WITH experience have done lately. I'd say that's a plus for her...and her (potential) employees.
Dude you can't be serious? Let me guess 8 years active and then straight to FedEx....yep your living in the real world. Get out of your little green house world were you believe everything your master tells you.
 

TheDonger

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http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05285/586682.stm

Memphis attorney hopes to succeed where others have failed -- launch a Pittsburgh-based airline

The only things Penelope Turnbow needs are money and planes

Wednesday, October 12, 2005
By Dan Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



Penelope Turnbow must be crazy.
Why else would a 41-year-old Memphis lawyer quit her corporate job to launch a Pittsburgh-based airline? Doesn't she know the industry is a mess?
Doesn't she know three of the nation's 10 largest carriers are in bankruptcy, tens of thousands of jobs are being shed and high fuel prices are making a full recovery impossible.
And doesn't she know that both Pittsburgh and the nation are littered with proposed airline start-ups that never got off the ground or, if they did, quickly entered the "former airline" stage?
Raise these questions with Ms. Turnbow, who was in Pittsburgh last week on a fund-raising tour, and the chief executive officer of the start-up Victory Airlines acknowledges that some think she is "absolutely crazy" for wanting to launch a new air transportation venture during the worst economic stretch in the history of the airline business.
But "we did walk on the moon," she said. And "the airline industry, I believe, will be reborn. It has to be."
A former attorney for Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx Corp., Ms. Turnbow needs at least $100 million to $125 million to lease aircraft, hire support operations and, before all that, get a required operating certificate from the U.S. Department of Transportation. She may need as much as $250 million over time.
To start, Ms. Turnbow is hoping to raise $20 million to $25 million in Pittsburgh, a possible headquarters city for Victory Airlines even though it is a place where US Airways pulled up the welcome mat because it felt the region no longer was worthy or able to serve as a hub.
Just raising funds will be hard enough, but there also is the legacy of other start-ups that came and went. Nations Air, JetTrain and Citijet are among local attempts that failed in the late 1990s. Last year, an effort known as Project Roam wasn't even able to raise enough money to put a plane in the sky.
"I wouldn't put my retirement money on the line for something like this," said Darryl Jenkins, a well-known airline consultant based in Marshall, Va. "It is a very difficult environment for startups right now, with jet fuel so high. That scares investors away."
Two local venture capital firms already have turned down Ms. Turnbow's requests for money, according to people familiar with her efforts, and it appears she does not yet have any hard commitments from anyone willing to step up and be the first big investor.
At the same time, she has support from a bevy of well-known figures in town, including former Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey, iNetworks Chief Executive Officer Tony Lacerne, law firm Buchanan Ingersoll CEO Thomas Van Kirk and Gateway Financial owner David Malone, all of whom have introduced her to potential investors. Last Thursday, Mr. Roddey hosted such a meeting at a local law firm office.
"I give her a lot of credit for trying," Mr. Lacerne said. Mr. Malone even said he believes Ms. Turnbow "has a reasonably good chance of success."
Ms. Turnbow admits the last year of fund raising has not been easy. "Convincing people to part with their money is a difficult task," she said last Thursday, while seated in the lobby of the Omni William Penn, in between meetings.
But she would not disclose how much money has been raised so far, other than to say that she has enough to pay for a business plan and legal fees -- costs that can run into the "millions."
It is clear, though, that Ms. Turnbow brims with the confidence of the newfangled entrepreneur.
She traces her thirst for independence to a childhood in Savannah, Tenn., only two miles from a Civil War battlefield, where Ms. Turnbow started working for her father's trucking business when she was 8, and became the first person in her family to attend college.
She earned degrees in law and business from the University of Memphis. She then worked nine years as an attorney with FedEx, in Memphis, and another seven years as counsel for electrical products maker Thomas & Betts.
In starting Victory Airlines two years ago, Ms. Turnbow consulted with more than 200 people across 30 companies to gather ideas and plot strategy. She consulted with Boeing Co. on the possible design of a plane and Unisys on pricing and reservations and operations, according to several people familiar with her efforts.
"We left no stone unturned," she said. "We are still waiting for the question we can't answer."
When local business consultant Richard Danforth, himself the veteran of several airline start-up attempts, heard about Ms. Turnbow's effort, he was skeptical as to whether she or her team had the expertise to pull it off. But "when I read the business plan, I was very impressed," Mr. Danforth said. "Perhaps the best airline start-up plan I gave ever read. I was immediately interested."
What Mr. Danforth likes:
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/images/newsimages/dot.gifVictory's reliance on outsourcing of bookings, ground handling, training, crew scheduling, marketing and other services -- doing all of it more cheaply than if handled in house.
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/images/newsimages/dot.gifIts proposed use of a transparent pricing system, in which everyone will know what the price of a seat will be, eliminating wild fluctuations. "We want to sell certainty, predictability," Ms. Turnbow said.
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/images/newsimages/dot.gifUse of electronic ticketing.
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/images/newsimages/dot.gifA program of profit sharing and easy-to-understand wage structure for employees.
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/images/newsimages/dot.gifLow operating costs. Mr. Danforth claims the business plan shows the airline spending 7 cents to move one seat one mile -- a statistic that is in line with Southwest Airlines, the most profitable low-cost carrier in the industry.
Victory could also carry cargo, according to Mr. Roddey, who said Ms. Turnbow wants to build an "international freight center" that could create lots of jobs in Pittsburgh.
"I particularly like that idea," he said.
Mr. Lacerne, of the venture capital firm iNetworks, likes Ms. Turnbow's enthusiasm, above all.
"Sooner or later, people with that tenacity win," he said.
Mr. Danforth added: "You have somebody at the helm who is not going to take no for an answer."
Such confidence is crucial if Victory Airlines is to get off the ground, said Mr. Jenkins, the airline consultant in Marshall, Va.
"There are a dozen airlines out there trying to get started, all of whom have good ideas," he said. "A good idea in and of itself is not enough to raise money. You have to have the management team and a certain swagger to you that the others don't."
JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman had that swagger when he founded the successful New York start-up five years ago, according to Mr. Jenkins. "You knew he was not going to fail," Mr. Jenkins said. Of course, it helped that Mr. Neeleman had extensive experience in the airline business, having formed and sold his own airline start-up to Southwest Airlines, then working for the discount giant and then helping other start-ups get underway.
As for Ms. Turnbow, having people question her ability to make Victory work does not bother her. "Most people are not visionaries," she said. "They will say 'That's great, but how will you get it from here to there,' " using her hands to illustrate the perception gap.
But she pledged to keep trying.
"I am an entrepreneur," she said. "I was born one."
(Dan Fitzpatrick can be reached at dfitzpatrick@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1752.)
 

Deuce130

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Max Powers said:
Dude you can't be serious? Let me guess 8 years active and then straight to FedEx....yep your living in the real world. Get out of your little green house world were you believe everything your master tells you.
Uh, what's the little green house and who is the "master?" The point is that most of the guys with airline experience in the "real world" are in debt up to their eyeballs, slashing pilot salaries, laying off mx workers, and staring bankruptcy in the face. She can't do much worse. And 8 years active and straight to FedEx sounds like a pretty good world to live in. Sounds like a world I'd like to live in, too. Oh, wait a minute...
 

mckpickle

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Q....How do you make a million in aviation....

A.....Start with 25 million.

Give it up....But I'm sure some douche will be willing to fly here for free.
 
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