2022 was another strong year for airline startups, with 36 taking to the skies. Out of that, 20 were based in Europe, making it the cradle for new carriers, with some interesting names taking to the skies. Let’s find out more.
Good year for European aviation
As the once bustling region emerged from all the traffic restrictions, airlines were raring to jump back into the business. While coverage was dominated by staff shortages last summer, carriers were busy flying millions of passengers and even breaking records with their traffic. Among all this, several new airlines joined operations as well, some you may have heard of while others were a bit more low-key.
An analysis by IATA found that European aviation accounted for 20 out of the 36 airlines that began flying in 2022. While numbers were down from the 58 ‘births’ that took place in 2021, it is more in line with pre-pandemic figures, and hopefully, this trend will remain for years to come. In 2019, 42 new carriers took to the skies. While Europe also had the highest number of ‘deaths’ at seven (meaning the cessation of the Air Operators Certificate), this was offset by the gains made in the space.
Some of the big names in the region were the return of British regional carrier Flybe, Norse Atlantic (which was founded in 2021 but only began flying in June 2022), and Niceair, which connects north Iceland to the mainland continent. However, there was an array of smaller names to emerge as well, from Air Alderney in the Channel Islands (which finally took off last year) to Surcar in Spain, as noted by Allplane.
Tough year for startups?
Europe’s startups could face some headwinds in the near future. Some are existing and well-known, such as the threat of low-cost airlines eating into tight margins, while high fuel prices, airspace closures, and more are fresh challenges for the new entrants. Add to this cost-of-living challenges and high inflation in many countries, and the appetite for travel may be affected, hurting new entrants the most.
However, one figure remains resilient: demand. Passengers have shown no sign of jumping off their post-COVID traveling spree, and 2023 is set to be the largest summer on record by capacity, with carriers expecting millions more to travel. If all continues well, startups may be able to survive and even thrive with high passenger figures offsetting input costs.
Photo: Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock
Not just Europe
While the region might boast the highest number of new airline births, other regions have been busy too. Over in the Dominican Republic, Arajet kicked off operations and has added over a dozen destinations to its route map already (Simple Flying had a chance for an exclusive interview last month). Down under, Bonza received its AOC in early January and can now start flights after spending last year planning and acquiring aircraft (with some cheeky names too). Stay tuned as 2023 looks to be another good year for aviation and one that will allow us to finally move from recovery to growth once again.
Have you traveled on any startup airlines? Let us know in the comments.