Goodbye -The airlines that vanished in 2017

About fifty airlines stopped flying in 2017. Two were biggies. One was Air Berlin and the other UK’s Monarch. Two of the airlines had been operating for a long time: 88 years and 50. One of the airlines that collapsed had operated for just one month.

I have flown two of the carriers that collapsed (marked with an asterix in the list below): Air Berlin and Hawaii’s IslandAir. Of the 98 airlines I have travelled on, 54 still remain in operation.

Details of some of the 50 airlines that vanished in 2017. How many had you flown?

Aeropostal Alas de Venezuela

  • Venezuela
  • 3 Jul 1929 to 24 Sep 2017- 88 years old
  • Seven planes, four destinations
  • Board of Directors announced closure due to financial and economic problems.

Air Berlin*

  • Germany
  • 1979 to 28 Oct 2017
  • Fleet: 118
  • This is the one I am saddest about. What was Germany’s second biggest carrier has lost its battle to survive. After Etihad stopped financial support of Air Berlin, the company entered insolvency procedures in August 2017. 
 has vanished-

Air Carnival

  • India
  • 18 Jul 2016 to  6 Apr 2017
  • Fleet: 1, Destinations: 4
  • Started as a charter airline in 2-13 before launching regular scheduled services in 2016. The airline was sold to investors in July, 2017

Air Norway (not Norwegian Air)

  • Norway
  • 23 May 2003 to Oct 2017
  • Fleet: 1, Destinations: 3
  • Subsidised by 40% owner, the city of Ørland, this airline had a part-time CEO and a reservations agent who worked on an hourly basis. The airline made a profit one year but the rest of the time saw it flying with revenue in the red. Their main customer base was the Norwegian military which changed policy reducing customers. Air NorwayThey shut down for four months this year while the Ørland runway was being fixed. Flying started again and then the airline shut down. 


  • The Isle of Man
  • 2 Jan 2013 to 11 Mar 2017
  • 9 destinations- owned no aircraft
  • After their aircraft provider lost its licence, the airline was forced to lease aircraft at short notice and high rates.

Darwin Airline 

  • Switzerland
  • 2003 to 28 Nov 2017
  • Fleet: 10, Destinations: 16
  • From 2014 to July 2017, it was Etihad regional.  Then it became Adria Switzerland when Etihad sold its stake. The loss of contracts from Alitalia and the grounding of Air Berlin impacted Darwin. Ultimately airline management is survival of the fittest!

Eastern Airlines

  • 28 May 2015 to Sep 2017
  • Destinations 14, Fleet: 4
  • Swift Air charter carrier based in Phoenix, Arizona acquired Eastern meaning the old eastern name and logo has disappeared again. I wish people would stop trying to resurrect defunct US airline names! 

Fly 365 Aviation

    • Romania
    • Fleet: 2, Destinations: ?

Florida West International Airways

  • 1981 to 29 Mar 2017
  • Destinations 0, Fleet: share of a one LATAM plane
  • At its height, FWIA operated scheduled passenger and cargo services through the Caribbean and South America. It was party owned by LAN. In 2016, Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings acquired this cargo carrier and shut them down this year.

Fly Blue Crane 

  • South Africa
  • 1 Sep 2015 to 3 Feb 2017
  • Fleet: 2, Destinations: 6 in South Africa
  • The SA market has had a lot of start ups -all of which have failed. I liked the look of this one and hoped it would have. Founder Siza Mzimela was the CEO of South African Airlines until 2012 and on the board of IATA. I thought she would have known what was needed in this market. Sadly, not. 


  • France
  • 7 Nov 2016 to 27 May 2017
  • Destinations: 6
  • A charter company using planes flown by a Slovenian subsidiary thus avoiding French taxes, the dream lasted just six months

Fly Marche

  •  Italy
  • 16 Jul 2017 to 18-Aug-2017
  • Fleet: 1, Domestic destinations
  • Someone got this very badly wrong.  After low passenger numbers, Fly Marche ended services. The airline then sued the Perugia Airport management company 500 thousand euros.


  • USA
  • 2015 to 15 Jul 2017
  • Fleet size 3, Destinations 5
  • GLO Airlines founded by a New Orleans lawyer as a regional carrier across the Gulf Coast and Mid-South. They ran into trouble with Corporate Flight Management, the company that operated its flights with CFM claiming bills were not being paid

Go! Aviation

  • Finland
  • Nov 2015 to 23 Feb 2017
  • Destinations: 2
  • Using Pilatus PC-12 aircraft, Go offered unlimited flying for a monthly fee of €2,150. It aimed to have 40 aircraft by 2020 crisscrossing Northern Europe.

Hummingbird Air

  • US Virgin Islands
  • 1 Aug 2013 to 17 Mar 2017
  • Fleet: 3, Destinations: 5
  • After two accidents in 2015 scared off passssengers, the airline claimed the increase in airport fees in the USVI killed off the airline

Island Air*

  • USA
  • 1980 to 10 Nov 2017
  • Fleet: 7, Destinations: 4
  • After years of different owners, CEOs and logos, their losses became unsustainable

Mega Maldives

  • The Maldives
  • 23 Dec 2010 to 2 May 2017
  • Fleet: 1 , Destinations: 3
  • Severely decreased Chinese leisure market 


  • UK
  • 5 June 1967 to 2 Oct 2017
  • Fleet: 35, Destinations 43
  • The market changed with heavy competition on European flights with low-cost carriers, the  political situation in Egypt, Libya and Turkey reducing demand and the depreciation of the British Pound Sterling which increased operating costs 


  • Canada
  • 25 Jul 2016 to 25 Jul 2017
  • Fleet: 0 (virtual airline), Destinations: 6
  • The NewLeaf brand was retired, with flights moving to the Flair Airlines brand.


  • Austria
  • 2003 to 14 Dec 2017
  • Fleet: 30, Destinations: 36
  • Another victim of the Air Berlin collapse, Niki may yet fly again. IAG is talking about buying the carrier. 

Shuttle America

  • USA
  • 1995 to 30th Jan 2017
  • Fleet: 118
  • In 2005, it was purchased by Republic Airways Holdings. Shuttle America kept flying under its own steam until this year when it ceased operations and all remaining aircraft and crew were transferred to the Republic Airline Inc. certificate.


  • Ghana
  • 1995 to 29th Nov 2016
  • Fleet: 2, Destinations: 4
  • Starbow had an accident in November. While they had no casualties, the airline suspended all operations. They may yet fly again.


Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium

  • Belgium
  • Mar 2002 to 27 Oct 2017
  • Fleet: 5 Destinations: 36
  • Founded to provide travel for the Belgian tourist market, Thomas Cook sold this subsidiary off in March. Two aircraft and all traffic rights were sold to Brussels Airlines. Dutch group SHS Aviation took two aircraft and 40 employees, to integrate them into a reestablished VLM Airlines. The remaining plane was transferred elsewhere within the Thomas Cook Group


  • Singapore
  • 12 Dec 2003 to 25 Jul 2017
  • Fleet: 31
  • This budget airline was merged with its sister Scoot by parent Singapore Airlines. Tigerair Australia which is owned by Virgin Australia is still flying as is Tigerair Taiwan majority owned by China Airlines 

VIM Avia

  • Russia
  • 2000 to 16 Oct 2017
  • Fleet: 28, Destinations 50 across Asia, Europe and Russia.
  • There is always one airline story that is full of intrigue. VIM is one of them. Founded by Viktor Ivanovich Merkulov (VIM), it grew quickly through acquisitions. In July 2017, the airline announced it planned to lease 15 Irkut MC-21-300s from 2021. Just three months later, its then CEO was arrested for embezzlement. The airline’s co-owner Rashid Mursekayev, reportedly fled to Turkey. Planes across Europe, Russia and Turkey were siezed by authorities resulting in cancellations and stranding thousands.  

Virgin Samoa

  • 31 Oct 2005 to 12 Nov 2017
  • Destinations: 4 Fleet:1
  • Virgin Samoa, formerly Polynesian Blue, was the flag carrier of Samoa and jointly owned by Virgin Australia and the Government of Samoa. Following two years of unhappiness, the Samoan Government pulled out of the joint venture to start its own airline. Polynesian Airlines will resume international flights. 

Wings of Alaska 

  • USA
  • 1982 to 13th Mar 2017
  • Fleet size 2 Destinations 5
  • After a change of ownership, two years ago, the airline ceased flying suddenly


Seventy-nine new airlines were launched in 2017. How many will survive to 2018? If you want to keep an airline flying you need:

  1. A real, diversified market
  2. a sound strategy
  3. deep pockets
  4. the right number of planes (not too many and not too few).

Get any of these wrong and you have an airline that will vanish. Lets see who is around in 12 months.


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