An interview with José Manuel Álvarez
Empty Leg Founder and President
How did Empty Leg project begin?
Empty Leg started its activity 24 years ago in a small apartment in Palma. It was a really exciting stage of my life, I decided to leave my job to do what I like the best: chartering planes. My colleagues looked at me and many of them asked, "Are you sure what you're going to do?", to which I clearly replied, "Very sure, I'm going to start a company in my living room" (laughs). And so I began. The task was to ask airlines if they wanted to sell their positional flights and travel agencies if they needed an airplane. Basically my daily life meant sending faxes one after another telling people "If you need a plane, I can find you one." I had a great time, I never had the feeling that it was work because it has never been for me, frankly. Couple months after, I needed help. By then I knew Pilar, I called her to talk my project and she was the first person to join Empty Leg team.
What steps did Empty Leg take first?
In 1993 there was hardly any air broker in Spain and, in fact, we were pioneers in our sector. We did three major actions that I think were fundamental; first we started our activity with airlines Empty Legs and we acted as intermediaries between them and travel agencies, offering a product at that time was very new in the sector. Secondly, we specialized in Flight Consolidation, that is, we offered European tour operators a very specific and attractive product in certain seasons that they commercialized with ease. Third and last, we specialized in ACMI installing ourselves even in the offices of our clients. Step by step we started to do infinity of sub-charter flights and we learned a lot. By then our service was already H24. It was really fun, if you really like what you do no matter how much work does it suppose because, ultimately, it is not.
How was Empty Leg grow?
The growth was a very natural process, the business was increasing its volume progressively thanks to the great work of the team. If I have to name a virtue that defines us and has always defined us this would be humility and I do not want to seem pretentious but things are as they are: we did and we continue doing our work very well. Our task was perfect and the word of mouth worked in the same direction. So Empty Leg Spain grew and the team with the company, the office moved from my house to the office where we are currently in Palma. On the other hand, we could also have an office in Portugal thanks to the wide knowledge that Licelia Ferreira has, so we started to offer the Portuguese-speaking market our services in a much closer way.
I can not feel more proud of "my people", we continue doing our work with the same illusion with which we began. The implication of the whole team, the high level of professionalism and the enthusiasm for working on what we are really passionate about remains what defines the team of Empty Leg.
Why now a new look?
I think that the image of any company must correspond with its personality and its values. 13 years ago we launched our last web page and the modernization of our corporate image and web was a much needed task. I am very proud of the result, it has been an exhaustive work that took months and has been done with utmost care and detail. We know what the advantages that customers and suppliers find in us and our duty is to reflect them in our image.
You also are founder and President of Privilege Style air line.
Yes. Privilege Style was born as a consequence of the high demand for charter flights that exists in the market. We currently have a fleet of two Boeing 757, a Boeing 767 and a Boeing 777.
How do you see Empty Leg in the future?
With enthusiasm. I see Empty Leg growing and our team working in what we are passionate about: chartering your flight.