The airlines that vanished in 2015

Over 50 carriers failed in 2015. Many of them, frankly won’t be missed. I have flown none of them (and in some cases it seems no one else flew them either!).

There were some very long standing airlines that went under and a couple that lasted just a short time including one that had planes in the air for under month. Man dream of being a Richard Branson but for every successful startup there are hundreds of shuttered dreams.

To survive, I believe an airline needs to have seven things:

  1. A demonstrated diversified real market. “build it and they will come” is not sufficient. The world lost five flag carriers (and almost lost Malaysia Airlines) which suggests to me that the flag carrier concept is largely finished.
  2. sufficient cash -for a new start -up two years
  3. a proper business plan
  4. adequate aircraft
  5. luck
  6. good timing
  7. low fuel prices

Too many carriers did not have any of these! 

As always, when booking a flight do your research, have a back up plan,   Buy travel insurance and pay with a credit card so you have access to a refund from your card company.

Here are a few of the more significant (to me at least!) failures. Let’s see what 2016 brings!

Air Croatia

Air_Croatia

  • Croatia: 2 April 2015 to 25 April 2015
  • Fleet: 1 Destinations: 5

Poor sales resulted in the suspension of one route after one return flight. All remaining routes were suspended after a dispute between Air Croatia and their credit card payment company resulting in a cash flow crisis and the inability to pay the leasing costs on their one plane. Breached my points 2,3,4,5. 

 

B & H Airlines

B_and_H_Airlines_Logo

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: June 2005 to 2 July 2015
  • Fleet: 1 Destinations: 3

The only surprise about the demise of B&H was how long it took. After all this was a carrier whose CEO said in 2013: We are just waiting to see who will shut us down first”.  The airline’s single plane could never make them enough money. Despite attempts by the government to sell the airline, its cash burn meant the government gave up bankrolling them. This was the Federation’s second attempt at a flag carrier- Air Bosna was the first.

Business Air

logo

  • Thailand: December 2009 to 15 January 2o15
  • Fleet: 2 Destinations: 4

Business Air suspended its operation on 16 January 2015. It then rebranded as Intira Airlines

Cyprus Airways

500px-Cyprus_Airways_Logo.svg

  • Cyprus: 18 April 1948 to 9 January, 2015
  • Fleet: 6 Destinations: 13

Cyprus Airways survived and thrived through some turbulent moment in the island’s history. Its peak was in the late 1990s. By 2006, the carrier was in financial trouble. The economic crisis and high fuel costs impacted them severely whilst low cost carriers expanded their services to Cyprus. They were bailed out by their majority owner the Cypriot government in 2012-2013. On 9 January 2015, the European Commission ruled that their bail out was illegal and the moneys had to be repaid. This bankrupted the airline and its operating license was revoked on the same day. The “Cyprus Airways” brand name is still owned by the government who have suggested some sort of revival is still possible.

Estonian Air

Estonian_Air_logo.svg

  • Estonia: 1991 to 8 November, 2015
  • Fleet: 14 Destinations: 20

The airline was established by the Estonian government to fill the void when the Estonian division of Aeroflot ceased after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  The carrier expanded under various ownerships through the 1990s and early 2000s. From 2008 Estonian Air was under significant financial pressure. Government assistance was provided which was declared illegal by the European Commission last year.  65 million Euros had to be immediately repaid by the airline. This tipped Estonian Air into liquidation. 

 

Eurolot Eurolot.svg

  • Poland: 1996 to 31 March, 2015
  • Fleet: 14 Destinations: 20

Eurolot provided domestic and regional services for Polish National carrier LOT (itself in financial trouble) and regional services under its own brand. Financial losses meant its majority owner the Polish Treasury liquidated he airline.

 

Intersky

intersky

  • Austria: 5 November 2002 to 5 November, 2015
  • Fleet: 4 Destinations: 20

Too small to survive in an increasingly competitive environment, they owed five million Euros mainly to airports in Europe, had their planes recalled and a potential investor walked away.

Island Airlines

ia logo wtag

  • USA: 1930  to 11 December, 2015 (current name adopted 1991)
  • Fleet: 8 Destinations: 2

Whenever I went to Cape Cod, I would pore over the timetables of Island Airlines to see if I could use them. Sadly I never did. Nor did others as the airline blamed the fast ferry service plus increased charges on their demise. Not many Americans were aware that one of the country’s oldest airline vanished. Island air traced its routes back to before one of the USA’s oldest airlines starting in 1930 as Erie Isle Airways, the name it carried until adoption of the present name in 1991.

 

Little Red

Virgin_Atlantic_Little_Red

  • UK: 31 March 2013 to 26 September 2015
  • Fleet: 4 Destinations: 4

When IAG took over British Midland, it had to relinquish some of BMI’s  domestic slots at Heathrow. Virgin Atlantic purchased them and launched “Little Red” , a UK  domestic service with what I thought was dreadful name. The company had an average seat occupancy level of just 37.6% in 2013 which was unsustainable. Also, the company found passengers were not being fed into Virgin Atlantic’s international routes. After significant losses, Manchester services finished in  March with Scottish bound flights continuing for the summer.

People Express III

2035

  • USA: 30 June 2014 to ?
  • Fleet: 2 Destinations: 4

I noted that PeopleExpress had failed last year. The airline, however,  continued to pump out  cheery messages promising that they would fly again. Despite this optimism (or foolishness), they were kicked out of their offices in January, 2015 and have not raised capital or found planes.

 

SkyGreece

SkyGreece_Airlines_logo

  • Canada: 23 May, 2015 to 27 August, 2015
  • Fleet: 2 Destinations: 7

There are 252,960 Canadians who claim Greek ancestry. A group of businessmen and a Greek Orthodox priest believed that they would want to fly back to Greece using SkyGreece’s authentic Greek hospitality.They contracted a Bulgarian airline to provide some of their services but failed to pay them! Some “good ideas” should never see the light of day!

 

Syphax Airlines

Syphaxlogo2

  • Tunisia: 29 April 2012 to 31 July, 2015
  • Fleet: 2 Destinations: 13

This airline was never profitable, losing money from its very first flight. The unstable political situation in Tunisia and the global economic outlook finished them off in 2015. There was talk of a revival in September but …

 

TransaeroTransaero-logo

  • Russia: 5 November 1991 to 26 October 2015
  • Fleet: 156 Destinations: 97

The airline had been profitable. Between 2010 and 2014, Transaero adopted an aggressive growth pattern which came undone when the Russian economy contracted severely. Massive losses resulted in a massive debt which they could no longer service. Aeroflot is the winner from this collapse. Of all the airlines, that went last year, this is the one I most regret not flying.

 

US Airways

US-Airways-Logo

  • USA: 1939 to 26 October, 2015

The US Airways brand was retired after the completion of their integration int the American Airlines “family”

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Comments

  1. Martin, have you done anything on Qatar Airways/Doha etc? I am considering having a stopover in Doha on way to Europe, and I have been told Qatar Airways is starting a direct service from Adelaide in May, which would be great (and sometimes when airlines are starting up they have bargain rates for a while to entice customers). I have also been told they are a good airline, but would be interested in your opinion. (Btw, what I need on your site is a search box, so that I can find some of your old blogs). Cheers June

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