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Being Tyler Brûlé » Brulé Airways

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Brûlé Airways: The Management

"Basically You're Asking Me Why I'm No Longer the CEO of Dell"


Continuing in our series on TB´s airline, we have reached the management. Crucial, in harsh aviation times like these. In some positions there are clear stand out candidates, but an airline of this caliber requires titles that are yet to be defined. Recruiting will therefore be a challenge. We set five of the more obvious titles in our top management, with some essential criteria for success:

1. CLO – Chief Lounge Officer. We looking for someone with the hospitality of Adrian at the George V in Paris, but with experience from modern retail and property development. A tricky one.

2. CAO – Chief Apparel Officer. What could be more important in an airline cabin that what the crew are wearing? We can’t think of anything. So we would be looking at someone from Asiana, obviously.

3. CMC – Chief Maître de Cabine. No point improving perfection, so the legacy from Swiss should live on. The regular six languages and concierge knowledge of the normal top 50 cities will do.

4. CISO – Chief Inflight Service Officer.
This one is easiest, by far. We’ll just get Terence, the butler from the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong, straight away.

5. CTO – Chief Timetable Officer.
If you take your airline seriously, you take your timetables seriously. And as often as we’ve had to experience downloaded and badly designed PDF:s, instead of gripping on to a sturdy and finely printed dito – we feel that this is an issue that needs its own manager. Probably a German.

With a management like that, it would take more than a global economic depression to keep Brûlé Airways on the tarmac.

Brûlé Airways: The Crew

Malay air flight attendants


Just as we were speculating about Brûlé Airways, the man himself writes a full column on what it would be like. Finding himself desperately needing “trans-Med connectivity” he lays out – eloquent as always – what the crew on this fictional airline would be serving and wearing:

On the crew front, my jury’s out on who I’d have in the cockpit but I’d definitely have Italians to man the on-board espresso machines and I’d hire my friend Kamal Mouzawak to be my chief catering officer and have him demonstrate why Lebanon’s mezze culture was made for in-flight meal service. Along with produce sourced in the Bekaa Valley and the Chouf Mountains, he’d also select the best reds from Spain, rosés from Provence, whites from Italy and beer from Turkey.

After food, uniforms would be the second most exciting element and I’d leave the sourcing to my Galician friend Sagra who’d have a sleepy little espadrille firm do a smart shoe for both men and women, find an emerging French designer to produce dresses and knitwear ensembles for the girls and a solid tailor from Genoa to do the designs and manufacturing for the stewards’ and pilots’ uniforms.

He does however leave us with one mystery:

Would it make more sense to crew the airline from the lower-wage Maghreb countries or leave it to the Spanish or the Lebanese to run?

Those Maghreb countries have that ever-charming sub-Med disposition, so our money is definitely on them.

Brûlé Airways – The fleet

ec-ivg airbus a320 spanair

As mentioned, Mr Brûlé has expressed interest in his own airline. And after going through what the terminal would be like, our next stop is of course the aircraft fleet.

Aviation purchases are always troublesome, as you are well aware of. A long line of factors need to be taken into account – range, fuel efficiency, seating arrangements and so forth. In cases like this we tend to always to lean towards people rather than specs. And who would you rather lean on than the “best thinker in the sky” – Robert Lafontan. As Airbus’s senior chief engineer he is the master mind behind the A380 (that we sincerely hope never will be produced in it’s 853 people economy class only configuration).

For Brûlé Airways however, we are opting for his next project in line – the A350 XWB. So we’ll go for a few of those for long haul while settling for the more lean A320 for short and medium haul trips. That should cover the basic LHR-NRT, CPH-ZRH and ARN-PMI routes.

But, as our efficient German friends Lufthansa have shown us, no airline is complete without a private jet section. So to finish off, we’ll pop in a Cessna Citation XLS+ for good measure. A pure bespoke offering for those customers that prefer a smoother debarkation.

Brûlé Airways – The terminal

The terminal

To start off this installment it seemed fitting to follow the process that every traveller normally goes through, from departure to landing. Hence, starting off with an attack on the so often sub-par standards of terminals worldwide. We often shrugg when touching down in the spectacle that is Heathrow Airport in London or departing from the tragedy of De Gaulle in Paris.

For inspiration we turned to some of the best aviation hubs around the world. Terminals are potential time savers when done properly but to be honest often they are toxic time wasters. Since our passengers are en route to Hong-Kong, Milan or Frankfurt at any given day and like all Business travellers run on a tight schedule. The terminal therefore needs to address the issues of infrastructure and design, the two most important aspects for any likeminded business traveller.

Infrastructure wise the primary inspiration comes from Tokyo’s own Haneda airport:

Tokyo’s Haneda Airport wouldn’t win any architectural prizes but boy, does it work. It’s a shallow airport, so you can get to check-in fast. Many airports try to funnel their passengers through one security area, but Haneda has six or seven, which means you can get from kerbside and past security in 90 seconds. It’s the fourth-busiest airport in the world, but it’s primarily a domestic airport, and doesn’t have a massive duty-free area. Instead there’s an amazing grocery store. You can even pre-order your groceries and pick them up after you land.

If you combine that with the Scandinavian architectual high note that is Copenhagen Airport, described as:

It’s just so exquisite, so uniquely Nordic, there’s no mistaking you’re in Copenhagen. The floors are teak throughout, and the signage is excellent: dark navy background with yellow text. There are washrooms every 20 metres, so you never have to worry about schlepping down the hall to find the loo.

Brülé Airways is combining a well-designed infrasctructure with fantastic Scandinavian design details wrapping it all up in the service mindset and attention to details of Japanese retailers to create a unique terminal experience.

Introducing: Brûlé Airways

Airplane en route to Hong-Kong

At a conference panel in Münich earlier this year the panelists including Meister Brûlé recieved the question ”If you would start a new venture, what would it be?” We will spare you the ideas from the other Hobo-Joes on the panel. TB’s answer? Starting a new European airline company.

We immediately felt compelled to pick up our Blackberries and call Lufthansa’s customer service asking how we could transfer our Miles & More points to this new aviation paradise. What would it look like? Would it serve the same excellent vegetable consommé as the Marc Newson designed Qantas business class? Could it really outshine ANA’s inflight nightwear?

Out of gitty excitement and since we can hardly wait for this venture to get of the ground we decided to start a series which explores potential ideas on what Brûlé Airways would be like. The first instalment in this series will be out soon.