Model didn't work
We started with pomp and pageantry. We had in place a formidable team of pilots that I got to know. I was hired in as the Manager for Crisis Planning and training in flight ops, was my biggest contribution in Valuair. We had an awesome team in place and a culture, that was people friendly. I even found the mission and values statement draft, I helped to amend. Everyone who worked in Flight ops walked the values that we developed. Having worked previously in SIA, DHL and Millennium & Copthorne, Valuair was by far the best place to work. We worked long hours as a start up airline. We did away with petty politics and policies.
The marketing team, had grand plans, to get the message out to the folks in the heartlands. Our ads became a familiar sight at bus stops and taxi stands. There was an ad that we took out too in the papers, I didn’t keep that one. That was a caricature, of David battling Goliath, it was tongue in cheek, messaging to see Valuair as an underdog, taking on the big boys.
Tony Fernandez airline Airasia was already flying in. Tiger and Jetstar, were staring their airline. We were the first in the market offering low cost fares with full flight meals. It was a hybrid model, with enough leg space to stretch. So much thought was put into leg space with little forecast how long we can stretch the life of this airline. Valuair airline’s history was remarkably short.
Here’s the run down on the very short history. The airline operated from April 2004 (AOC) to 2005 July, when Valuair merged with Jetstar, operating the flights to Indonesia. The 3 executive directors moved on. 1 became an aviation consultant, the other as I know runs a security firm now and the 3rd helms an investment company. Letting the airline go and parachuting out with a soft landing. For these 3 who started an amazing airline, they walked away from an enterprise that had so much potential. This fall out led to folks losing jobs. Entrepreneurs need to realize this, dun start what you are not able to finish or have no intent of finishing. Airasia wanted to buy Valuair, that would have meant employees then would have stayed intact and jobs could have been saved. However the endgame for Valuair was the merger with Jetstar. Even now I really wonder why the merger with Jetstar happened without any afterthought for the employees who worked with the airline. Singapore too may have been worried having Airasia operating in our own backyard, with the Valuair AOC. That could have dented the profit margins for the GLC affiliated airlines, specifically Tiger. Perhaps that was why Valuair airline was started and let go of very quickly. I left the airline in May 2005, to work on my Master’s thesis with NTU. I subsequently graduated in 2006. Seeing how these folks operated also led me to start Teamworkbound, as opposed to accepting another job. We have gone past 1 year, having been around since 2006 and “flying” forward 14 years on. What was the biggest lesson I learnt, you can have the best in class as a business model and yet you can fail. Airasia was started with folks without any industry experience and they have thrived. My model worked, not yours sir, even with your huge machinery, experience and “connections”. I have have none, really…. no sugar daddy watching my back. The difference here was my commitment to seeing my company works, whatever the circumstances. We now have a slate of clients that we work with every year and partnership with OD tools based in Berlin letting us distribute the organizational development assessment tools here in Singapore and asia.