DALLAS — The travel industry saw strong demand post-pandemic, and to fulfill increased capacity, new airlines started up. Some airlines spent years preparing to launch and fly for the first time. While some were still in the planning stages, we decided to include only airlines that flew in 2022.
By December 2021, IATA and ICAO had assigned codes to more than 5,000 airlines, including local, regional, and international carriers. Out of these, there are slightly more than 1100 commercial airlines. Europe has the most commercial airlines, while Australia and the Pacific region have the fewest.
With approximately 1,100 commercial airlines and approximately eight billion potential flyers, there are only a few carriers that handle multiple flight legs and transport millions of passengers each year. Likewise, there are significantly fewer airlines that fly to more than 50 countries.
So there is tremendous opportunity in this growing aviation industry, and the new airlines can fill the voids and serve more travelers. Last year, we saw maiden flights from more than 30 airlines.
The following airlines launched or relaunched in 2022, both passenger and cargo.
AeroExpress Regional [Hungary]
AeroExpress Regional is a Hungary-based startup airline part-owned by BASe Airlines‚ which was founded in 1991. The Regional airline operates an Embraer EMB 120 aircraft, a Brazilian-manufactured aircraft. The airline commenced its first flight on the 5th of September 2022 from Budapest in Hungary to Romania in Cluj-Napoca.
As the airline operates aircraft origin to Budapest Aircraft Service (RP) having registration HA-FAI they don’t have any IATA or ICAO code yet. The company is focused on providing services to airports that haven’t seen flights in years and boosting regional connectivity in the area. With one aircraft it can currently serve 4 destinations and will add more routes in the coming time.
Aeroflyer (FK) [Canada]
KF Aerospace, a 50-year-old Canadian company, has launched a new passenger air charter service Aeroflyer (FK). On April 14, 2022, the company announced the operation of a new charter airline to serve Western Canada. They aim to attract passengers who wish to fly for leisure, tourism, and work-related services.
The company has received delivery of 2 Boeing 737-600 aircraft with Reg C-GKFP and C-GKFQ which is a little odd, But they also expect to add two additional Boeing 737-700 aircraft in the coming days.
Aeroflyer Charter Operations Manager, Nick Samuel stated, “In the coming months we plan to expand our fleet across the country to support national and international customers, We’re excited to provide the market with nimble, responsive, and highly efficient charter solutions.”
AeroItalia (XZ) [Italy]
As its name suggests, AeroItalia is an Italian airline founded by an ex-consultant of Italy’s infrastructure and transport ministry, Francesco Gaetano Intrieri (CEO). Economically, the airline is funded by Germán Efromovich Italy’s President and former owner of Colombian airline Avianca.
It is based at Forli Airport with a fleet of four Boeing 737-800s capable of carrying 189 passengers, while two are on order. Also, XZ has signed a deal with Air Lease Corporation (ALC) for three Boeing 737-8s to expand its network. The airline launched its first scheduled flight on July 9, 2022, from its base at Forli airport.
As of December 2022, XZ serves 11 destinations, with more to start in the first quarter of 2023. The carrier is eyeing serving Latin America and the United States by leasing long-haul aircraft this year.
Air Alderney (ICAO: PUF) [Guernsey]
Air Alderney is a small airline based on the island of Alderney, part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey in the Channel Islands. The airline was founded by Danny Brem-Wilsonon (CEO) on January 31, 2017. PUF faced numerous delays in commencing operations.
Finally, after getting an operating license from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of the UK in 2021, the airline commenced charter flights between Alderney, Biggin Hill, Shoreham-by-Sea, Lydd, Guernsey, and Jersey on February 7, 2022.
Air Alderney operates a fleet of two Britten-Norman BN2B-26 Islander light aircraft and has recently added one Britten-Norman BN2A MkIII Trislander, making a fleet size of 3.
Air Astra (2A) [Bangladesh]
Bangladeshi Air Astra was founded in 2021 to connect small cities with Dhaka, the capital of the country. The 2A is based at Shahjalal International Airport (DAC) and connects three cities with its hub. Imran Asif (CEO) heads the airline, which operates a fleet of three ATR 72-600s with seven more on order, for a total of 10 ATRs.
The 2A is the fourth scheduled operator and is the only privately owned airline in Bangladesh. Due to poor connectivity in the country, 2A focuses on Safety, reliability, and affordability.
AirConnect (KS) [Romania]
AirConnect is a regional airline of Romania based in Bucharest and is founded by seven private investors. The KS is headed by Dorin IVAŞCU (President), a highly experienced owner of Tuzla Airfield, RAS Tehnic. The company commenced its operations in August 2022 in Romania, connecting regional cities with major hubs.
The carrier has opted for ATR 72-600 aircraft for its fleet and has two of them. The KS will operate on nine regional routes. Likewise, the regional carrier intends to connect underserved routes by profiting from the lower capacity of its ATRs.
The Romanian startup aims to compete with the country’s national carrier TAROM (RO) by keeping its fare lower than it.
Akasa Air (QP) [India]
SNV Aviation Limited, operating as Akasa Air, is the youngest Indian low-cost carrier (LCC), founded by late billionaire and share market giant Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Vinay Dube (CEO), and its senior associates. The QP started its commercial operation on August 7, 2022, by taking off from Mumbai (BOM) to Ahmedabad (AMD) with a Boeing 737-8 aircraft.
The airline, led by Vinay Dube, former CEO of Jet Airways and Go First, aims to bring innovation to the Indian aviation industry. The QP received its No Objection Certificate (NOC) in October 2021 from the Civil Ministry of India, while it got its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) on July 7, 2022.
The airline has already placed a mega order for 72 Boeing 737-8s worth US$9bn, with airlines receiving deliveries every 15 days. Within six months of operation, it had flown approximately 800,000 passengers and held 0.6% of the market.
Akasa Air is one of the fastest-growing airlines in India in terms of getting aircraft every month. So far, the airline has lived up to the standards, and through innovations, it is set to revolutionize travel in India.
Antigua Airways [Antigua and Barbuda]
Antigua Airways is fulfilling the nation’s old dream of having a full-service national carrier via public-private partnerships. By the end of 2022, the airline will have launched its first flight, connecting V. C. Bird International Airport (ANU) in Antigua with Murtala Mohammed International Airport (LOS) in Lagos.
The Antigua-Lagos direct route is historical as it connects Antigua and Barbuda with Western Africa for the first time.
Antigua Airways has leased Boeing 767-300ERs from EuroAtlantic Airways (YU). The aircraft type has a capacity of 267 seats. The new carrier plans to connect Caribbean regions with Nigeria, Ghana, and Canada.
Equair (HN) [Ecuodar]
EquinoxAir S.A.S, operating as Equair is a startup airline located in Quito, Ecuador. It operated its maiden flight on January 10, 2022, between Quito, Guayaquil, and the Galápagos Islands. Frederik Jacobsen (CEO) and its team have placed young startups as an environment-friendly carrier.
The HN is committed to sustainable growth by using a fuel-efficient Boeing 737NG fleet and currently, it flies three such types on six destinations. The Full service connects Ecuodar with Curaçao and the Dominican Republic.
Equair received its AOC three days prior to its maiden flight.
Fly Arna (G6) [Armenia]
Fly Arna is an Armenian low-cost airline headquartered in Yerevan, Armenia. G6 is a joint venture between UAE-based Air Arabia (G9), which has 49% of the shares, and the Armenian government-owned Armenia National Interests Fund (ANIF), which has 51% of the shares.
Fly Arna was founded in 2021 and made its inaugural flight on July 3, 2022, between Zvartnots International Airport (EVN) in Yerevan and Hurghada International Airport (HRG) in Egypt.
The airline operates a fleet of three Airbus A320-200s to maintain fleet commonality with G9. The low-cost carrier serves nine destinations in four countries.
The airline acts as the fifth scheduled passenger airline in Armenia, and to compete with four others, it focuses on offering comfort, reliability, and value-for-money air travel to its customers.
Flybe Relaunch (BE) [United Kingdom]
Flybe is a British commercial carrier and is based in Birmingham, England. The Airline has an interesting history in the European aviation market.
Flybe traces back its root to 1979 when it was founded as Jersey European Airways following the merger between Intra Airways and Express Air Services. The company was renamed once again in 2000 as British European and Flybee in 2002. With the purchase of BA Connect in 2006, Flybee became the largest regional airline in Europe.
Unfortunately on March 5, 2020, it filed for administration and halted all its operations. On October 2022, News came out that Lucien Farrell, in charge of former shareholder Cyrus Capital’s European office, had formed a new company, Thyme Opco, and it will purchase the old Flybe brand and restart the operations, subject to authority approvals.
The revamped airline restarted flights on April 13, 2022, connecting Birmingham and Belfast. As of Dec 2022, BE operates a fleet of eight De Havilland Canada DHC-8-400 and expects to expand it up to 32 such types.
Until today, BE sold tickets on 22 routes to 16 destinations, and while it had the vision to operate throughout the UK and EU, we found out today that it has entered administration once again.
Fly Jinnah (9P) [Pakistan]
Fly Jinnah is a Pakistani LCC formed as a Joint venture between Lakson Group and Sharjah-based Air Arabia (G9) in 2021. The 9P is headquartered in Karachi, Pakistan and it operates a fleet of three A320-200 once again for maintaining commonality with the parent carriers.
The 9P commenced its Inaugural flight from Karachi on the 31st of October, 2022. It provides services to its customers by serving them in five destinations in Pakistan. As it works on a Low-cost model, its goal is to provide passengers with comfort, affordable fares, and on-time performance.
Greater Bay Airlines (HB) [Hong Kong]
Greater Bay Airlines, a Hong Kong-based low-cost carrier, was established in 2010 as Donghai Airlines (DZ). It rebranded to its current name in July 2022. The LCC was founded on May 24, 2010, as a subsidiary of East Pacific (Holdings) Ltd.
After a long rivalry of 12 years with Cathay Pacific (CX), HK Express (UO), and Hong Kong Airlines (HX), it made its inaugural passenger flight on July 23, 2022, connecting Hong Kong to Bangkok.
greater Bay Airlines operates a fleet of three Boeing 737-800 aircraft and connects Hong Kong with Bangkok, Seoul, Taipei, and Tokyo. HB’s goal is to provide customers with a seamless, digitalized, affordable, and memorable travel experience. HB has opted for permission to operate on more than 100 routes.
IndiaOne Air (I7) [India]
IndiaOne Air, as its name suggests, is an Indian regional carrier founded in 2020. The I7 is headquartered in Ahmedabad and was founded by Arun Kumar Singh (CEO). Its operations were delayed due to COVID, but it received the first 8B Grand Caravan EX, a propeller aircraft, in April 2022. After performing a proving flight on June 22, 2022, they were granted an AOC after two days by the DGCA, India.
On August 3, 2022, it performed its inaugural flight from its hub at Biju Patnaik Airport (BBI), Bhubaneshwar, to Jeypore Airport (PYB). Currently, I7 serves eight destinations around its hub with its 9-seater.
IndiaOne is part of the UDAN scheme, which is an effort by the Indian government to improve regional connectivity in the country. I7 focuses on providing regional connectivity between tier 2 and 3 cities within India.
JetSMART Airlines Peru (JZ) [Perú]
JetSmart Airlines Peru, styled as JetSMART, is a brand new Peruvian airline possessed by the Chilean ultra-low-cost JetSmart, itself owned by Indigo Partners. Its parent company, the private investment fund Indigo Partners, has more than 20 years of experience developing ultra-low-cost carriers worldwide. JZ was founded on February 17, 2021, and is based at Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM).
The JZ commenced operations on June 14, 2022, connecting LIM to Arequipa airport (AQP). The airline has a fleet of four Airbus A320neo operated by its parent airline.
JetSMART uses very rare and unique tail art by featuring new animals on its aircraft. The carrier positions itself to provide affordable air travel in the south American continent.
Jetlines (AU) [Canada]
Canada Jetlines, Ltd., operating as Jetlines (AU), is a new Canadian ultralow-cost carrier founded in 2013 by multiple owners from Europe and the United States.
The ULCC is headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, and follows the successful business model of European LCCs Ryanair (FR) and easyJet (U2) by operating from smaller secondary airports.
On September 22, 2022, AU performed its inaugural flight from Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ) to Calgary International Airport (YYC). It has a fleet of two A320s and currently operates to three destinations.
The airline expects to have a fleet size of 15 aircraft by 2025. AU is registered on the NEO Stock Exchange, with the ticker symbol “CJET.”
l’odyssey Airlines [Switzerland]
l’odyssey is a Swiss virtual charter airline and a new subsidiary of Jet Airlines (9W) and is headquartered in France. l’odyssey will not own any aircraft and will operate a leased RAF-Avia Saab 340. On June 30, 2022, it launched its inaugural flight from Geneva to Toulon.
The carrier expects to start flying on five routes connecting Switzerland, France, and the UK with its 27-seater Saab 340 aircraft. The carrier aims to organize air travel services on behalf of its clients by chartering aircraft to third-party “operators” as agents for its clients.
Lynx Air (Y9) [Canada]
The newly launched Lynx Air is not newly launched but is a rebranded LCC that previously did business as Enerjet. Y9 came into existence after its legal incorporation as 1263343 Alberta Inc., which decided to rebrand the existing airline on November 16, 2021. Y9 carried out its inaugural flight on April 7, 2022, flying from YYC to Vancouver International Airport (YVR).
Lynx Air is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and has an operating base at YYC. Alberta Inc. has had its roots in Canadian aviation since its foundation in 2006 as New Air & Tours and rebranding as Enerjet in 2008.
The carrier was established under a strong management team led by Merren McArthur, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), as she is a former CEO of Tigerair Australia (TT) and Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (VA). Y9’s COO, Vijay Bathija, has experience working with Etihad Airways (EY) and Air Canada Rouge (RV), while others are also coming up from renowned carriers and helping Y9 in its growth.
Currently, Y9 has a fleet of six Boeing 737-8 aircraft, and it has placed an order for 51 more worth billions of dollars. As of December 2022, Y9 serves its customers by providing ultra-low fares, no hidden fees, and friendly service on 10 destinations in Canada.
The airline announced an international route within six months of its operation on September 28, 2022, and is hopeful to operate a flight to the United States by 2023.
Norse Atlantic Airways (N0) [Norway]
The Norway-based LCC was founded in February 2021 by Bjørn Tore Larsen, with Bjørn Kise and Bjørn Kjos. N0 is headquartered in Arendal, Norway. It has a subsidiary airline named Norse Atlantic UK (Z0). N0 took off for the first time on an international route on June 14, 2022, from Oslo Airport (OSL), Gardermoen, to New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).
Norse has a fleet size of 10 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, with an additional two on order, and will soon take delivery of three Boeing 787-8 aircraft. Out of 10 B787s, one is operated by Z0. N0 is listed on the 200-year-old Oslo Stock exchange as OSE: NORSE.
Despite having a double-digit fleet, N0 serves only seven international destinations, including Paris, Berlin, Rome, Oslo, London, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York City, and Orlando.
Norse has made interline agreements with EasyJet Group, Flyr (FS), a 2021-launched Norwegian carrier, Norwegian Air Shuttle (DY), the country’s largest airline, and United States-based Spirit Airlines (NK). The carrier follows a low-cost model to provide affordable fares and comfortable air travel on its Dreamliners.
Nordic culture centers around a fondness for the outdoors and the freedom it symbolizes. To celebrate this Nordic culture it has named its aircraft fleet after national parks of the world, few to name are Heart of the Valley, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and so on.
NICEAIR is a virtual airline in Iceland founded in February 2022 and led by Þorvaldur Lúðvík Sigurjónsson (CEO). NICEAIR began with the goal of connecting North Iceland to other European cities. It aims to provide direct year-round flight connectivity from Denmark, Spain, and the United Kingdom to Akureyri, the gateway to Arctic Iceland.
On June 3, 2022, Nice Air launched its First flight from Akureyri to London Stansted. But on the return flight from the same route, it was not allowed to carry passengers as it operated HiFly Malta Airbus A319 and under the Brexit treaty between Iceland and UK it is not allowed to do so. Following this airline stopped its operation on this route.
Currently, the airline serves three destinations with 150 seater Airbus A319 which they have leased from HiFly Malta (5M). Interestingly the call sign of HiFly Malta is Moonranker and it serves mainly tourists visiting Iceland for its breathtaking views. The country before the NiceAair launch had four scheduled airlines and two major carriers including Icelandair (FI) and PLAY (OG).
Pradhaan Air Express (6P) [India]
The third newly launched Indian carrier is Pradhaan Air Express, headquartered in Delhi, India. 6P received its AOC from the civil ministry in July 2022, and it commenced its inaugural flight on India’s most-flown Delhi-Mumbai sector on October 1, 2022.
The airline says that it operates the world’s first Airbus A320 passenger-to-freight (P2F) converted aircraft. Currently, it has a fleet of one Airbus A320-200P2F and provides cargo charter service on demand to domestic and international companies. With three more on order, QP is sailing swiftly into the country with a few dedicated cargo carriers.
The cargo carrier named its first plane “PEHALWAN,” which translates to “wrestler” in English. 6P aims to offer round-trip, one-way, and multi-sector cargo services to companies wanting to deliver their goods with its 21-ton-capacity Pehalwan aircraft in India and abroad.
Quikjet Cargo Airlines (QO) [India]
Another Indian cargo airline on the list is QuickJet Cargo Airlines, which is part of the ASL group and was founded in 2007. But since it commenced operations on February 17, 2016, you might be wondering why we included it on our list.
As of 2021, it did not operate any cargo flights and had its AOC suspended. The airline received its AOC from the DGCA on December 12, 2022, and resumed service then.
The company is headquartered in Bengaluru, the IT hub of India. It also has an operational hub at Delhi International Airport (DEL). QO operates cargo flights for integrators and operates a scheduled domestic network in conjunction with national and international cargo charters.
Recently, QO formed a partnership with Amazon India to operate Amazon Air flights to four metro cities in India. The carrier has a fleet of two Boeing 737-800 freighters, and its maintenance is overseen by GMR Aero Technik (Hyderabad).
The airline has previously flown Boeing 747-400SF and ATR 72-200 Cargo LCD aircraft.
Southwind (2S) [Turkey]
Southwind is a Turkey-based carrier with the primary objective of providing a safe, joyful, and efficient service to passengers. On August 2, 2022, 2S flew a 220-seater Airbus A321 for its inaugural flight between Antalya, Turkey, and Ufa, the largest city and capital of Bashkortostan, Russia.
Southwind operates a modern fleet that includes two Airbus A321s, one on order, two Airbus A330-200s, and one Boeing 737 and 777. The airline will be focused on providing connectivity between Turkey and Russia.
Ultra Air (OL) [Colombia]
Colombian-based Ultra Air is a low-cost carrier headquartered in Rionegro, Antioquia, Colombia. It was founded in 2020 by William Shaw, the former CEO of Viva Air Colombia (VH), Viva Air Peru (VV), and Interjet (4O).
The LCC obtained its AOC from the Colombian civil aviation authority (UAEAC) in January 2022. Its inaugural flight was on February 23, 2022, flying from Bogotá to San Andrés Island.
In January 2022, it received a mega grant from the country’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism. OL has a fleet of six Airbus A320-200 aircraft and serves its customers in nine destinations within the country. Its operating hub is located at José María Córdova International Airport (MDE).
ValueJet (ICAO:FVJ) [Nigeria]
Kunle Soname, the chairman of the sports betting website Bet9ja and the owner of the Portuguese football club C.D. Feirensein, founded ValuJet. It started in 2018 from its headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria, to provide scheduled passenger services to various cities in Nigeria.
After receiving AOC on September 20, 2021, ValueJet flew for the first time on October 10, 2022, and it currently provides service in five cities in Nigeria.
ValueJet has a fleet of three Bombardier CRJ900s and an operating hub situated at Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS) in Laos State. The airline, along with Schedule passenger service, provides on-demand charter flights.
Wizz Air Malta (W4) [Malta]
Wizz Air Malta is the fourth subsidiary of Wizz Air Holdings Plc. The Maltese airline received its AOC from EASA and its operating license from the Civil Aviation Directorate of Malta. The subsidiary is headed by Diarmuid O’Conghaile, a former executive of RyanAir (FR).
It took off for the first time on September 27, 2022, from Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO) to Malta International Airport (MLA), with the registration 9H-WAM of an Airbus A321neo.
Wizz Air Malta has a fleet of 27 aircraft, including an Airbus A320-220, three Airbus A320neo, and 23 Airbus A321neo. The airline’s parent company is looking to deploy a fleet of up to 78 aircraft by the summer of this year.
The exact number of W4 destinations is not known, but if we combine all subsidiaries, then it flies to around 200 destinations. with a total fleet of approximately 180 aircraft.
In 2024, the parent company, Wizz Air (W6), will complete 20 years of operations. Pan-European airline groups like W6 and FR operate a whole portfolio of airlines (with distinct AOCs) to best optimize the legal, economic, and operational aspects of their extensive networks.
Airlines Taking Flight in 2023
2022 saw the birth of more than 30 airlines and the death of at least 15. As IATA states, the rising number of fresh and renewed airlines shows the aviation industry “remains attractive to entrepreneurs and investors alike, sustaining the persistent recovery envisioned in 2023.”
We also added relaunches like those of Flybe, which has just entered into administration again, and Quikjet Cargo Airlines. But there are some carriers that were founded before 2022 and have already done the majority of the work, like getting regulatory approvals, aircraft, forming a team, and launching routes, and are ready to take off in 2023 after completing some formalities.
In 2023, we can expect airlines like Air Congo, California-based Air Bahn, Bonzo (an Australian startup), Celeste (of France), Bangladeshi Fly Dhaka, Zimbabwe’s Kuva Air (a blockchain-based carrier), Maersk Air Cargo, Marabu (upcoming sister of Condor airlines), North Pacific Airways (which plans to connect Asia with the US), Pakistani Q-Airways, RIA (a planned Saudi Arabian carrier), SilkAvia of Uzbekistan, Surcar airlines (a Spanish seaplane operator), Ukrainian National Airline, and South Africa’s Webclift Airways.
We can also expect the relaunch of Fits Air and Jet Airways, the latter of which was the leading premium Indian carrier that ceased its operations in April 2019.
Do you think that we will see more new airlines take to the skies in 2023 compared to 2022? Which is your favorite startup of 2022? Do let us know on our social media channels.
Featured Image: Wizz Air HA-LWM Airbus A320-232. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways