CLIENT OF THE WEEK: Debonair without ostentation - Franco Mancassola aims to offer a cheap, cheerful service, Harriet Green says

By HARRIET GREEN, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 15 August 1997 12:00AM

Franco Mancassola, the Italian-born founder and chairman of the airline, Debonair, wants his fledgling operation to reflect his appetite for life. ’I’m a positive, can-do person,’ he says. ’I want to create an airline with a can-do attitude, with pizzazz.’

Franco Mancassola, the Italian-born founder and chairman of the

airline, Debonair, wants his fledgling operation to reflect his appetite

for life. ’I’m a positive, can-do person,’ he says. ’I want to create an

airline with a can-do attitude, with pizzazz.’



Debonair may be low cost, but Mancassola says passengers won’t miss out

on the extras. ’We have comfortable seats and a friendly

environment.



(Passengers) may go cheaply, but we don’t skimp on service. A smile

costs nothing.’



Mancassola, 58, hatched Debonair only a year ago, but he’s a veteran of

the airline industry. He rose to the top of several major American

airlines, including Continental, before starting his own in Hawaii. The

accelerated deregulation in the European industry - with the emergence

of cheap airlines in competition with established carriers - was too

good to miss.



Mancassola sold up and landed in Luton airport. ’A hell of a change from

Hawaii,’ he avers.



From its UK base, Debonair flies between Dusseldorf, Munich, Barcelona,

Madrid, Rome and Copenhagen. It made losses in its first year but now

it’s moving into profit. In July, it raised pounds 29 million on the

pan-European Easdaq stock market and passenger numbers swelled from

3,000 in its first month of operation to more than 50,000 in May.



Debonair does not offer passengers meals but it does provide

entertainment.



Mancassola laughs as he recalls listening to one of his stewardesses

explain safety procedures. ’There are 50 ways in which you can leave

your husband or wife,’ she said. ’But there are only four ways you can

leave this plane, so please listen.’ Debonair also offers games of poker

or blackjack.



Mancassola feels ready to present Debonair to the public. The company is

launching a pounds 3.6 million mixed media campaign through Mellors Reay

& Partners (Campaign, last week) to make Debonair a household name.

Mancassola believes the airline’s name fits the image perfectly.



’It’s classy, like our well-dressed and charming staff - but without

ostentation.’



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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