Representatives with a new airline hope to be in the skies of Texoma by this fall. Judah 1 founder Everett Aaron presented more concrete plans on the world’s first Christian-based airline’s operations during a meeting of the Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority’s board of directors Thursday.
Judah 1 announced plans late last year to open the airline at North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field and use the airport as its primary base of operations.
“If everything goes well, and there are no more shutdown with the government, sometime this fall, or at the very latest, January of next year, we will have our certifications,” he said. “We will have all of our contracts in place so we can start flying.”
In December, officials with the fledgling airline announced plans to start operations at the airport with a focus on serving missionaries. Officials estimated that 400,000 Americans travel for missions work each year.
Initially, the airline planned to register with the Federal Aviation Administration as a private operator, similar to a charter service. However, there were limitations on how many organizations could utilize the service in a year and Judah 1 would not be able to sell individual tickets. This led to some difficulties as one of the airline’s first groups worked as an agent.
The airline pursued certification as an airline, and unlike many other carriers, Aaron said Judah 1 was seeking an exception that would waive requirements to maintain set routes and regularly scheduled flights.
“I know it seems like not a lot has happened with Judah 1 because people see the planes out there and we are working on them a lot,” Aaron said.
During Thursday’s meeting, Aaron said plans to purchase an exciting private operator certification to allow Judah 1 to fly while pursing its airline certification, fell through. During a phone call with the FAA Wednesday, representatives with the agency told Aaron that utilizing the private operator status would delay his process and encouraged him to continue on the path toward certification.
In addition to the conversation with the FAA, Aaron said Judah 1 officially signed a contract with a company that schedules tours of Israel and will be able to offer weekly trips.
“Every eight days, we are going to be taking groups out of here,” he said. “They are going to be flying into Dallas and we will bus them up (here).”
In other news, Aaron said that the airline’s primary aircraft, a McDonnell Douglas MD-80, is expected to receive its airworthiness certification next week.
With this hurdle likely cleared, Aaron said he would like to turn his attention to building a maintenance facility for the airline. This would also Judah 1 to also provide maintenance services for other MD-80 aircraft in other airlines, he said.
Judah 1 plans to hold a grand opening ceremony and open house in late August to introduce the airline to the community ahead of the full-scale opening.
What do you think about Texoma being the home of the first Christian airline? Let local government reporter Michael Hutchins know at MHutchins@HeraldDemocrat.com.