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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 March, 2005, 12:27 GMT
Teenager launches his own airline
A teenager is taking his obsession for flying to new heights by launching his own commercial airline.

Martin Halstead, 18, is set to stage his inaugural flight from Oxford to Cambridge, which will take just 20 minutes, on 18 April.

Mr Halstead, who lives with his mother, said: "My parents were gobsmacked at first, but now they see it's a serious business proposition, not just a whim."

He claims his company, Alpha 1 Airways, has already received a lot of interest.

I think it's safe to say I'm the only 18-year-old in Britain with his own airline
Martin Halstead

Initially Mr Halstead will lease four aircraft for the route, but he is already thinking about expanding the operation because of demand.

Car journeys currently take more than two hours and the train, which involves going via London, takes more than two and a half hours.

A single fare between the two varsity cities on the eight-seater aircraft will cost from 49, or 44 for students.

Pilot training

In October 2003, at the age of 16, he left d'Overbroeck's College in Oxford to start his first business, designing flight simulation software for training pilots.

He has now used cash made from that venture and from an inheritance, following the death of his grandmother, to finance his new project.

Mr Halstead, who lives in Oxford said: "I think it's safe to say I'm the only 18-year-old in Britain with his own airline."

He is currently training to be a pilot and plans to fly the planes along with the 12 other pilots when he qualifies.

'Will be profitable'

Mr Halstead, who models himself on Sir Richard Branson, fell in love with flying the moment he stepped on to an aeroplane at the age of six.

"Richard Branson has been a great role model throughout my life. I intend to follow a lot of his practices with my airline," he said.

James Dillon-Godfray, marketing director at Oxford Airport, said: "Martin is a pretty dynamic guy. He has done the research and I do believe it will be profitable."

There will be two flights in each direction each day. The first will leave Oxford Airport at 0730 GMT and the first Cambridge-to-Oxford service will be at 0815 GMT.

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