Over the last two years the aviation industry has experienced unprecedented turmoil, with Covid-19 and subsequent travel restrictions grounding airlines’ fleets worldwide, and leading to huge bailouts and several carriers going out of business.
As we move on from the pandemic, pent-up demand and gaps in the market have resulted in opportunities for new airlines to emerge, only for the war in Ukraine, the closure of Russian airspace and soaring fuel costs to put several spanners in the works.
Nonetheless the list of potential start-up carriers continues to grow – here we round-up some of the contenders and their likely launch plans.
Plans for Australia’s newest airline were unveiled in February 2022, with Bonza targeting an initial route network of 27 domestic routes across 16 destinations – 20 of these operating from two bases at Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast airports.
Bonza said that 80 per cent of its planned routes are currently unserved, adding that its network would increase the number of low-cost-carrier routes in Australia by 40 per cent.
The start-up carrier has taken delivery of its first B737 Max 8 aircraft (named Shazza), with five more on order.
Bonza’s website currently states it hopes to open sales for flights “within the next two months”.
Canada Jetlines looks set to finally launch operations in the coming weeks, nearly a decade after plans for the low-cost airline were first unveiled.
The Canada Jetlines brand was first launched as far back as 2013, and Business Traveller reported on the start-up carrier in 2019, when it billed itself as “Canada’s first true Ultra-Low Cost Carrier”, with plans to offer flights to Canadian, US, Mexican, and the Caribbean destinations.
In June 2019 Jetlines unveiled what it called a “cheeky, rebellious identity system”, and the carrier recently received its air operating certificate from Transport Canada.
It had been due to launch services from Toronto to Winnipeg and Moncton (New Brunswick) at the end of August 2022, but this was delayed until September 22, 2022, with the inaugural route now set to be between Toronto and Calgary.
Strictly speaking the Flybe brand has been around since 2002, but this latest incarnation is to all intents and purposes a start-up carrier.
The “old” Flybe went into administration and ceased all flights in March 2020 – read our analysis of why the regional carrier failed.
Just a few months later it was announced that the airline’s business and assets had been sold to Thyme Opco Ltd, with plans to relaunch the brand in 2021.
This was delayed due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, but the carrier finally reemerged in April 2022, based at Birmingham airport and offering regional flights to destinations in the UK, France and the Netherlands.
The airline recently announced a new winter route between Birmingham and Geneva, in time for the ski season.
Business Traveller first reported on plans for start-up carrier Pop Airline back in 2016, but it took until 2021 for “Flypop” to sign a lease agreement for A339-300 aircraft, and announce London Stansted as its launch base.
The low-cost airline had targeted the launch of passenger services late last year, with potential destinations including Amritsar, Hyderabad, Goa, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Kochi and Chandigarh.
But delays have led to Flypop beginning life as a cargo operator, and its website still details passenger flights as “coming soon”.
Greater Bay Airlines
Plans for a new Hong Kong-based airline were announced in 2020, with the owner of Shenzhen’s Donghai Airlines looking to compete with Hong Kong Express on key domestic and regional routes.
In February 2022 Greater Bay Airlines was granted a licence by the Air Transport Licensing Authority to operate over 100 routes from Hong Kong.
The carrier currently has a fleet of two B737 aircraft, and operated its first flights between Hong Kong and Bangkok in July 2022.
UK start-up carrier Hans Airways was unveiled in the summer of 2021, with plans to fly between the UK and secondary Indian cities.
In September 2022 the airline moved a step closer to the launch of flights, with the completion of route proving and familiarisation flights.
It hopes to be able to launch flights between Birmingham and Amritsar in northern India from October 2022, using an A330-200.
The aircraft will be configured in a two-cabin layout, with 274 economy seats offering a 31-inch seat pitch, and 24 premium economy seats with a pitch of 56 inches.
Plans for a new airline linking the UK and Pakistan were unveiled in 2021, with IPS Airways targeting a launch date of summer 2022.
However it was reported that an inaugural service between Leeds Bradford and Islamabad was cancelled with just a few days notice, and it’s not clear when a revised launch date will be announced.
The carrier’s website continues to promote potential routes from both Leeds Bradford and East Midlands airports to destinations including Lahore and Islamabad.
The website also mentions the use of A330 aircraft, with “flatbed luxury” in business class, but no images of the aircraft or a livery have so far been published.
Northern Pacific Airways
This long-haul start-up airline was first announced in summer 2021, and has plans to offer flights between “a range of points in the United States and select cities in East Asia through Anchorage”.
However Northern Pacific has run up against difficulties including the war in Ukraine, which has led to airspace closures and airlines having to take longer routes to Asian destinations.
It’s still not clear when the carrier might launch flights, and last month it was reported that Northern Pacific had also made a filing with the US Department for Transportation to fly from the United States to Mexico.
The carrier recently provided Business Traveller with images of the economy and premium seating which are being installed on its B757-200 aircraft, with interiors featuring a smart monochrome design in both economy and premium cabins.
Norse Atlantic Airways
Plans for transatlantic start-up Norse Atlantic Airways were unveiled in March 2021, following Norwegian’s decision to abandon its long-haul network.
The airline launched its first route between Oslo and New York JFK in June 2022, and has since begun flights from Gatwick to JFK, with tentative plans for seven transatlantic routes from the south London airport.
Most recently Norse announced a new service from Berlin to Florida’s coastal city of Fort Lauderdale, with a launch date of December 7, 2022.
The launch of flights was initially targeted for just a few months later in June 2021, but to date the carrier has yet to open its website for bookings.
The airline plans to operate a fleet of A350 aircraft, configured in a two-class layout with 32 seats in business class (offering a 79-inch pitch) and 196 in premium economy (with a 42-inch pitch).
The carrier’s website depicts a route map, showing future planned destinations from both Dubrovnik and Prague to destinations including Johannesburg, Beijing, Tokyo, Chengdu, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
Sentra Airways announced plans to launch long-haul routes out of Manchester airport in April 2022.
At the time the paper airline said that it was targeting destinations in both Africa and the US, and had agreed lease terms on a used A330-200 aircraft.
The carrier’s website currently states that it will be “taking off winter 2022”, with the launch route being between Manchester and Ghana’s capital Accra.
Flights are not yet on sale, but readers can register their interest and receive “an early bird discount”.
Which airlines have we left off this list? Let us know in the comments section below.