Decisions - David Spurlock

Founder and CEO of premium long-haul carrier EOS Airlines

by
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

MY BEST ...

Leaving a large airline company to found a small one (Spurlock used to be head of fleet planning and corporate strategy at British Airways).

If you were starting today, you'd never build a hub-and-spoke airline network - they are more expensive and less profitable than point-to-point services.

But like the other incumbents, BA can't dismantle what it already has - it's in the middle of the market and being squeezed on both sides.

I wanted to be involved in a pure-play, all first-class, point-to-point airline, which is what Eos is. I really admire companies like Southwest for the efficient way they do business, but on long-haul routes there is much stronger customer demand for a premium product like ours. Very rich people who are happy to fly Southwest or Ryanair short-haul will pay for first-class long-haul without batting an eye.

In 20 years' time, there will be only low-end, very efficient airlines and high-end, specialised operators left. Being all things to everyone just isn't viable.

MY WORST ...

I studied science at college and when I left I took a job as a biochemist in a lab working on the development of a drug to treat cystic fibrosis. I loved the intellectual challenge and the social value of the work I was doing, but I couldn't stand the glacial pace that things moved at. The drug had been in development for 10 years and wasn't ready yet - it was just too slow for me. I had to quit after only a year or so.

I don't regret what I studied, though - I still enjoy keeping up with science and after biochemistry and physics at Stanford, business school maths was easy for me. My science background has also given me a good perspective on business, which helped me to spot a market segmentation opportunity too good to miss.

Eos is really high-end. There's enough room on our planes for passengers to hold a four-way meeting in their seats if they want to. If we ever get to be serving 1,000 people a day - which is beyond our most wildly optimistic forecasts - we will have made our investors into billionaires.

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