Action News Investigates Proposed Low-Cost Airline

Action News Investigates Proposed Low-Cost Airline
Avatar Airlines

None — JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- A new low cost airline wants to fly out of Jacksonville, but Action News has learned the airlines troubled past may get in the way of it's flying future.   Avatar Airlines has applied for certification with the Federal Aviation Authority. But documents we've obtained show the government has serious concerns about the man who founded it.

Barry Michaels is a Las Vegas businessman, who, back in the 1990's tried to start up another low cost airline, Family Airline.  It ended with Michaels spending 15 months in federal prison for tax and securities fraud.

Action News has learned that on March 26th of this year,  Michaels sent an email to Mayor Alvin Brown asking for a sit down with the City and  Jacksonville Aviation Authority to talk about making Jacksonville a home base for Avatar.    They Mayor took a pass, but the CEO of JAA took the meeting.  According to a filling by Avatar Airlines in March of this year, "Michaels has stepped down as CEO and holds no other management position."    We asked the airlines Senior executive vice president Michael Zapin if MIchaels misrepresented himself to the City of Jacksonville by calling himself the Chairman of Avatar.  Zapin's response: "This is something that is going to happen, he is going to step down."

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As for the meeting with JAA, we're told the airport would welcome any new company to town, but since Avatar is not yet a viable company, there are no further meetings planned.

As of May 14, Avatar is still awaiting approval from the FAA to solicit investments.