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CAPA - Centre for Aviation

  • Type: Aviation Suppliers

Former Virgin Australia executive heads new US airline startup

Former Virgin Australia Group Executive, and Global Head of Aviation Practice for L.E.K. Consulting, John Thomas, is preparing to launch a short haul airline, Connect Airlines, in the US, adding yet another aviation venture to his lengthy industry C.V.

Mr Thomas told the Sep-2021 CAPA Live event that, subject to regulatory approvals in the US and CanadaConnect Airlines would take off by the end of this year, initially linking the northeast US gateways of Chicago O’Hare and Philadelphia with Billy Bishop Airport in downtown TorontoCanada, using two De-Havilland Dash 8-400 (Q400) turboprop aircraft.

He also revealed that the airline was targeting “total elimination” of carbon emissions by 2026, and highlighted the work of Los Angeles-based Universal Hydrogen, which is developing a programme to retrofit turboprop aircraft with new hydrogen-electric propulsion systems and is converting a Dash 8-300 as a testbed.


  • Former Virgin Australia Group Executive John Thomas is launching a new short haul airline in the US.
  • Subject to US and Canadian regulatory approval, Connect Airlines will initially link Chicago O’Hare and Pittsburgh with Toronto’s downtown Billy Bishop Airport.
  • Connect, a brand of Mr Thomas’s Boston-based Waltzing Matilda Airlines, will launch with two De Havilland Q400 aircraft and has signed letters of intent to acquire three more in 2022.
  • The airline is closely watching a program by Universal Hydrogen to convert turboprops to hydrogen propulsion.

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