If you’re an aviation enthusiast, chances are you’ve heard about Baltia Air Lines. The airline, later rebranded to USGlobal Airways, has been “in business” for 30 years and even owns an aircraft.
Yet, it has never flown a single commercial flight or generated any revenue. Instead, it has relied on investors’ capital to keep “the dream” – or, arguably, “scam” – alive.
Continue reading to learn more about the history of this bizarre company.
The Birth of Baltia Air Lines
Baltia Air Lines was established in August 1989 by Igor Dmitrowsky from Latvia who had the idea of launching an airline that would connect New York City with the Soviet Union. While he was an amateur pilot, he had no experience in the airline business.
In 1991, the airline got approvals from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) to operate flights from New York to Leningrad (today’s St. Petersburg) and Riga. It also planned to operate short-haul flights from Riga to Kiev, Minsk, and Tbilisi.
These flights, though, never came to fruition – due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union among other reasons – and the airline lost the rights to operate them.
Boeing 747-200s Join Baltia Air Lines’ Fleet
About five years later, Baltia Air Lines was “back in business” as it had reapplied for – and received permission to fly between New York and St. Petersburg. In 1998, it put a $100,000 downpayment for a former Cathay Pacific 747-200 with which it planned to start operations.
It run out of capital, though, and so, its plans to start flying were axed again. The company has also lost the rights previously granted by the DoT.
Still not giving up, the airline managed to secure new capital injection in 2007. With that, it reapplied for the permission to connect New York and St. Petersburg, and was (re)granted the permission in 2008.
In July 2009, to the surprise of many, Baltia Air Lines secured its first aircraft – a Boeing 747-200 registered N705BL. The airframe was originally delivered to TAP Air Portugal in 1975 before being sold to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) less than a year later. It flew with PIA until 2005.
The airline expanded its fleet about two years later, in 2011, when it purchased another 747-200. This time, it was registered N706BL, and it was an ex-Northwest Airlines and Kalitta Air airframe.
Unlike the first airframe, the second 747 was painted into Baltia Air Lines’ livery.
In spite of that, just like the first airframe, the second airframe never carried any paying passengers. N705BL was scrapped in 2012 at Subang Airport in Malaysia while N706BL appears to be stored at Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport in Michigan to this day.
Rebranding to USGlobal Airways
After the founder’s death in 2016, the company’s board elected Anthony Koulouris as the new president.
Besides that, the company even added Conrad Kalitta, a respected businessman and the CEO of Kalitta Air to its board of directors on October 31, 2016; that didn’t last long, though, as he resigned just a couple of months later, on January 31, 2017.
That said, before his resignation, Baltia Air Lines signed a letter of intent to lease one of Kalitta Air’s 767-300ERs due to – among other reasons – the Federal Aviation Administration asking the airline to acquire more modern aircraft that the 747-200.
Needles to say, the lease never ended up happening.
Later that year, in May 2017, the company announced that it would be rebranding the airline into USGlobal Airways and that it would move its operations (not like there was much to move…) to Stewart International Airport in New York.
The Baltia Air Lines website was active until that time after which it started redirecting to the USGlobal Airways website.
About a month later, the company announced that it intended to acquire Songbird Airways, a Miami-based charter airline. It even placed a one million dollar deposit into an escrow account.
That deal, however, fell through. USGlobal Airways backed out of it saying that entering the agreement to purchase the airline was not the best decision for the company.
The Current State of Baltia Air Lines & USGlobal Airways
In spite of the rebranding, the legal entity’s name never changed from Baltia Air Lines Inc.
Currently, neither the Baltia Air Lines website (baltia.com) nor its successor, the USGlobal Airways website (usglobal.com) are working. While the domains are registered, there is no content on the websites.
That said, USGlobal Airways’ Facebook page still exists. It was created on May 20, 2017, around the same time the announcement was made, and its as active as the airline itself. In other words, the first – and the last – post on the page was published on May 26, 2017.
The company’s stock had been trading over-the-counter for years. However, on March 8, 2019, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoked the Baltia Air Lines stock from the OTC Markets to protect investors.
As such, while the company still seems to exist (i.e. continues to be incorporated), it remains as dormant as ever.
As you can see above, Baltia Air Lines has the tendency to come up with “news” every now and then, out of the blue. However, to this day, after more than 30 years “in business,” it wasn’t able to operate a single revenue flight.
Not only that, but fairly recently, its (penny) stock was banned from being traded. With all of the company’s cash to date having been generated from investments rather than revenues from paying customers, there is little incentive now for the company to come up with “good news.”
As such, it remains to be seen whether we will ever hear from Baltia Air Lines – or USGlobal Airways – again.