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Editorial: Why I Started an Airline

Why I Started An Airline

By: Mahmoud A. Fadli

I believe that everyone has a dream and a passion; something that makes getting up each and every morning worth while. For some, that passion can be helping others, and for others that passion is giving back to a community that has given something to them. For others still, like myself, that passion is a combination of things that is held up by an overriding love: flight.

Ever since I was old enough to think, I looked skyward. Whether it was a jetliner or a small piper buzzing the skies above me, my eyes would always give these unique human marvels of engineering an extra, prolonged stare. I remember the walks that I took with my father on the little pathways surrounding San Francisco International Airport and watching the airplanes land on the 28s. At ten years old, I took my first demonstration flight out of San Carlos Airport, taking the controls of a Diamond Katana DA-20 and merrily working the pattern to perfect my take off and landing skills. Those moments at the controls were like little bits of orchestrated heaven as I went through the checklists and guided my small bird down toward the runway.

Flight is one of those things that is hard to convey to someone who has never had the privilege of taking the controls of an aircraft. Sure, you can describe it as best you can, but there are some things that simply cannot be expressed. It is hard to put into words something that is felt, and even those who could not have flown, like Leonardo Da Vinci, could only convey something so simple, yet so heartfelt amongst aviators from all walks of life.

Yet to me, taking the controls was simply not enough.

One of the most important, and life changing, events in my life took place in early 2001. My father always made it a point to ensure that I never sold myself short. My constant desire to be a pilot was often met with less than positive feedback. It was not that my father detested aviation, no. He too was fond of flight and the engineering marvels that made that possible. Instead, he was more concerned with practicality and making sure that I made a good name for myself and chose a profession that would not only provide me with a comfortable life, but also allow me to settle down and one day, have a family. In early 2001, after having heard another one of my tantrums about wanting to be a pilot, my father, perhaps in an effort to drill a point into my then thick skull, said something that made it all clear: “why would you want to be the pilot when you could own the airline?” Of course, his point was to show me that I should believe in my potential to be something more than what, at the time, I thought I could be. But to me, it was a “eureka” moment. “Well,” I thought to myself, “There’s an idea! I should start an airline!”

And so I did. And he has been there for me ever since.

I called it “Arabian.” At that time, my goal was to put together my passion for flight, my interest in design, and my desire to share this passion into a company based, originally, in Casablanca, Morocco. I put all my favorite aircraft together: 747s, 767s, a few 737s, some Airbuses and a prop or two. A simple livery was born, and the Eye of Horus sat proudly on the tail in white, surrounded by a deep blue.

It was a basic website. Freewebs, if I remember correctly. A rerouted “ca.tc” subdomain and a manual PiRep and roster system evinced a one man show. It was me against the virtual world. Little did I know then that a semi-thought out concept would, twelve years later, become a central part of my life.

As years passed, the idea became more than just a virtual airline: it was a business model. As I grew older, and wiser, I revisited the concept and adjusted it for the times. I moved the virtual company to Beirut, and finally to Amman where it is today. The fleet was carefully structured and restructured and routes were hand picked for profitability. Slowly, I learned the operational side of running an airline and became more knowledgeable of how real airlines work. Type ratings, commonalities, maintenance schedules, crew rotations and airport curfews became second hand knowledge despite never having spent a single day in the industry. But something deeper, more basic, was still missing: meaning.

What does this company mean? I asked myself this for years until one day, it was clear: it was an ambassador, not only of the passion for flight that we undoubtedly share, but for a part of the world so marred with misunderstanding and stereotypes that a common language had to be created. That common language, at least for me, was flight.

New logos appeared, and finally, Arabian changed its name to alMirath Arabian Airlines, alMirath meaning “the legacy” in Arabic. It was the ambassador of a part of the world that shared an unknown legacy of free thinking, revolutionary ideas, respect, peace, and tolerance. It was to bring about a part of the Middle East that gets pushed aside in the heap of political and social upheavals we see today. A new logo was featured, which is still on our aircraft today, symbolizing the talons of falcons which were used to pass messages of peace between messengers and tribes. Two red and grey half-oval shapes, one on the top of the aircraft merging into the tail, and one on the bottom, symbolizing a setting and rising sun were added signifying the end of an old era and a new beginning.

Finally, in 2011, the livery was changed once more to reflect only one half-oval, the rising sun, merging into the falcon’s talon design. The only message was that of hope and a new beginning. All that was left was the message. It was staring me right in the face. It was simple: we were the message. The company, and all that it stood for, was the meaning. The ideas and values that we all share, those of peace, love, tolerance, and optimism, was the entire basis for what started this company in the first place.

When people ask me “why did you start Arabian,” I answer simply: to carry a message of peace, opportunity, tolerance, optimism, and freedom in a language that we could all understand. That language is flight. While a Virtual Airline may appear be nothing more than a few repaints, a website, and some schedules, to those who spent years working on them, its something much, much more. It is a passion and a desire that manifests itself through a language of flight that even those who could not have ever imagined the feat to be possible could understand.

About the Author

Mahmoud Fadli is the Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of alMirath Arabian Airlines and is an attorney practicing in Mountain View, California, United States of America. He is an active member of the flight simulation community in Jordan, and is the acting Director of the VATSIM Jordanian vACC and the Director of the VATSIM Middle East Division.

alMirath Arabian Airlines – http://www.ArabianVA.com
VATSIM Jordan – http://www.VATJO.net
VATSIM Middle East – http://www.vatme.net

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