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COVID-19 Creates Airline Startup Boom — Here Are the Most Interesting!

Despite or just because of Corona, the airline industry is currently witnessing a startup boom. More than 90 airline startups are on the mark to commence operations in 2021. We took a look and presented the most promising.

I vividly remember when all of a sudden, Corona darkened the aviation horizon in 2020. Around the globe, airlines had to ground aircraft or pause their entire operations. After the first shock, it quickly became apparent that many airlines won’t survive this crisis. And you could read about airlines that went bankrupt or had to cease operations almost every day. As a result, approximately 40-50 airlines vanished from the market in 2021.

Although the pandemic isn’t over yet, the sky seems to get brighter again slowly. During the last days, we could read about airlines on their way to pre-COVID levels in terms of operations. United or China Southern are just two examples of such airlines.

40-90 Airline Startups are Planning to Take off in 2021

Moreover, the crisis has created possibilities for new airlines to fill gaps once the aviation industry is taking off again. As a result 2021, seems to become the year of airline startups. Depending on the source you choose, there 40-90 new airline startups ready to take off in 2021.

Nevertheless, many of them are tiny regional operators with only one or two small aircraft fleets. However, there are some airline startups you should have on your radar. Here are they!

6 Airline Startups You Should Have on the Radar!

Avelo Airlines (United States)

Although Avelo Airlines has 20+ years of history, it’s restarting with an entirely new concept. Andrew Levy, a former executive at United Airlines and Allegiant Air, acquired the airline in 2018 and eyes the underserved point-to-point markets in America. The airline has raised $125 million in funding and is set to start with a fleet of Boeing 737-800.

Breeze Airways (United States)

Breeze has many similarities to Avelo. However, the airline also plans to operate underserved secondary airports. David Neelman, one of the founders, said in a press release, “Breeze will operate unserved routes to mid-size U.S. airports and cities “that bigger airlines overlook.”
Neelman is also part of the second similarity between Avelo and Breeze: Similar to Mr. Levy, Mr. Neelman is an aviation expert. As the founder of JetBlue, he knows how to run an airline. Breeze will initially lease Embraer 190s & 195s from Brazil’s Azul, with long-term plans to fly a fleet of Airbus A220.

Update 21st May 2021: On its Facebook page, Breeze Airways announced the beginning of its tickets sale for its first route on 21st May at 08:00 Eastern Time. Many are excited to see what routes the airline will launch with, which has been a well-guarded secret.

Flyr (Norway)

Flyr is a Norwegian airline startup founded by the former CEO of Braathens SAFE and board member of Norwegian Erik G. Braathen. Initially, the airline will serve the route Oslo – Tromsø. In a second and third additional Norwegian and European (Nice, Malaga) shall follow. Flyr is quite an exciting airline startup since it tries to introduce some quite disruptive approaches. For example, under the slogan “making air travel simple,” passengers change the time and date without charge. On top of that, Flyr says, “a bag is a bag; whether you pack a suitcase, bike, or skis, the cost is the same.”

Play (Iceland)

May people see Play as the successor of Iceland’s Wow Air. Play launched just a couple of months after Wow Air went bankrupt. However, the airline has continuously postponed its start of operations. Nonetheless, the airline startup will likely start operations in 2021. Play plans to operate an A321 fleet and flights between Europe, Iceland, and North America. Therefore, it is another airline that tries to bring the low-cost concept to transatlantic flights.

Ein roter Stern am Airline Himmel -

flyPOP (United Kingdom)

flyPOP is another airline that aims to bring the low-cost concept to long-haul flights. However, the airline, which calls itself “the U.K.’s only international long-haul low-cost airline,” isn’t aiming for North American routes. On the contrary, flyPOP’s business model plans to connect the U.K. with India.

Its founder and CEO, Navdip Singh Judge, describes the idea as follows “flyPOP is the only airline that has to recognize recognized (Visiting Friends and Relatives) traffic is actually the same for the whole of South Asia. This is why we think flyPOP is different and better than any other attempt at low-cost long-haul because it’s underpinned by VFR traffic all year round.” Current plans aim to launch flights from London Stansted Airport to Amritsar and Ahmedabad when border restrictions ease and demand travel between the U.K. and India picks up.


EGO Airways (Italy)

With Air Italy surprisingly vanished in early 2020, it’s time for a new Italian airline startup. EGO Airways announced to serve 11 domestic routes with one Embraer E190. EGO Airways will operate out of its base at Catania Fontanarossa Airport, with another aircraft, which will be based at Milan Bergamo to operate to Rome Fiumicino from June.

Air Montenegro (Montengro)

We struggled to add this airline to the list of 2021’s startup airlines. First of all, because it is not a true startup but a re-start of an airline. Secondly, since it is a state-owned airline, the world startup doesn’t fit. So what’s the story behind it? The government of Montenegro shut down air Montenegro in December 2020. Now, six months later, in June 2021, the airline seems to be ready to restart. With an all-Embraer fleet, Air Montenegro plans flights out of both airports in Montenegro.

Airline Startups — What’s Your Opinion

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Benjamin Walther

CEO, Frankfurt

Benjamin is Information Design's CEO and a proven content-maniac. Besides running a successful business and developing pioneering ideas, he's dedicated to writing blog posts and creating content.

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