World's first airline launched by an artist guarantees you will 'fly with happiness'

Chinese-American artist and choreographer Qinmin Liu launched the project earlier this year with an "ambiguous" advertisement featuring her face laughing, on Chinese state television.
Chinese-American artist and choreographer Qinmin Liu launched the project earlier this year with an "ambiguous" advertisement featuring her face laughing, on Chinese state television.PHOTO: QINMIN LIU/INSTAGRAM

LONDON (Guardian) - Could an artist create the perfect air travel experience?

Chinese-American artist and choreographer Qinmin Liu believes she can. Her new airline, Angelhaha, will, from December, carry passengers to art events around the world, guaranteeing the "most positive energy" to its customers in the process.

It is a bold claim but as the airline's slogan promises: "Fly with Angelhaha. Fly with happiness."

The maiden flight will take off on Dec 6 - flying to Miami for the city's Art Basel event - from New York on a small private jet seating just nine passengers. At the time of writing, four seats are still available, with one-way tickets from US$2,700 (S$3,600)  to US$3,500 (perhaps making it more suitable for those with the budgets to invest in art, too).

After that, Angelhaha will be flying (one way only) to events in New York, Hong Kong, Venice, Berlin and Paris, and the plan is to have one large aircraft, so future flights will be more affordable. According to the artist, prices will range from US$300 to US$3,000, depending on the itinerary. She offers reassurance that yes, the airline is real, and yes, it is definitely happening.

Taking on the role of chief executive, airline representative and chief flight attendant, she explains that passengers will be getting a piece of herself as part of the experience.

"Service is performance. Environment is choreographed. I am going to use airplane, time, and this contained space to offer all my passengers a choreographed experience," she says. "Everything you will receive is happiness and it's a piece of me. Happiness is ahead of you."

Liu - who was born in Changsha, Hunan province, and lives in New York, where she studied at the School of Visual Arts - launched the project earlier this year with an "ambiguous" advertisement featuring her face laughing, on Chinese state television. It took her 18 months to get the 15-second commercial on air, and she considers herself lucky to have even received approval from the authorities.

She describes Angelhaha as a "dream leading" art project. "I am always interested in making unachievable dreams come true," she says. "Also, I question what else I can challenge in my art practice, my artist identity and the art world. What's the function of an artist? What else we can do? I want to push the limit. So why not start something that can redefine the function of art?"