Goodbye -The airlines that vanished in 2018

You know the scene, as you have seen it on the news programs. Passengers milling around desks in airports whilst a news commentator drones on about the number of planes grounded. Usually, the news does not affect you unless you are flying or when you might be an employee or family member of an employee. This scene repeated itself about fifty times around the world in 2018.

Some of these airline collapses were with a bang and some with a whimper. A number of carriers were merely folded into their parent company or another subsidiary. One of the airlines that vanished in 2018 had been operating for 77 years. Four of the airlines did not make it to one year.
No huge names collapsed this year compared to last year when we lost Air Berlin and Monarch.  I was sad to farewell Virgin America as they merged into Alaska.  They were the only carrier that vanished in 2018, that I have actually flown.
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Source: Alaska Airlines

Following the airlines that disappeared through the year, two common factors appear. The first is Cash is king. Airlines need mountains of cash and patient investors who are willing to see that cash burn through before any real money appears. The second is that that you need a real market. It is not a case of “build it and they will come“.  So many of the new airlines that came and went had opened flights on routes where other airlines had already failed. Seems arrogant to assume that a new player will be able to do what an established player could not do.

Who will disappear in 2019? Brexit will have an impact on airline revenues, as will the slowing Chinese and US Economies. Norwegian which has had massive expansion is reportedly struggling as are Iceland’s WOW and FlyBE is up for sale. Hong Kong airlines is running at a loss as  its parent the debt-burdened HNA Group which is fast running out of cash options. Watch this space in 2019.


Air Arabia Jordan

Air Arabia Logo.svg

  • Amman, Jordan
  • 24 May 2015 to April 2018 -just shy of 3 years
  • Two planes, eight destinations
  • The first low-cost Jordanian carrier
  • Joint venture between Jordan’s  RUM Group ( a transport and hotel holiday company) and UAE low cost carrier Air Arabia
  • They suspended scheduled flights claiming that Jordan’s Civil Aviation Authority was stunting its growth by withholding traffic rights.


Air2there Logo.gif

  • Kapiti Coast Airport, New Zealand
  • October 2004 to July, 2018 -14 years old
  • Two planes, three destinations
  • The company was set up as a city hopper service flying small aeroplanes
  • It reportedly struggled with regulatory costs and the supply of pilots

Air Costa Rica

  • San Jose, Costa Rica
  • December, 2015 to July, 2018 – 2 years old
  • Two planes, three destinations

AirLink (Australia)

Air Link logo.svg

  • Dubbo, Australia
  • 1971 to September 2018 -47 years old
  • Five planes, three destinations
  • Airlink served some very small regional towns in outback Australia, on behalf of its larger parent Regional Express (Rex).
  • Following the news that Airlink’s government subsidy wold cease, Rex terminated the scheduled and chartered services and sold the airline
  • The company still provides charter flights



Aserca Airlines logo.svg

  • Venezuela
  • 1991 to 24 May  2018 -27 years old
  • Eleven planes, nine destinations
  • Major domestic player
  • A victim of the Venezuelan economic collapse and probably its own mismanagement
  • It shut down with little notice when they ran out of funds to pay for the insurance of its last McDonnell-Douglas MD-83
  • Code shared with PAWA which failed in January 2018.
  • It also owned SBA which closed in April 2018 (see below)

ASL Airlines Spain formerly PAN Air Líneas Aéreas S.A


  • ASL Airlines Spain logo.pngMadrid, Spain
  • December, 1988 to August 2018 -almost 30 years old
  • Eight planes
  • Cargo operator, providing coverage for the TNT Express European Network. It also provided ad-hoc charters
  • ASL Switzerland closed in February and operations transferred to ASL’s Irish operations

  • Code shared with PAWA which failed in January 2018.
  • It also owned SBA which closed in April 2018 (see below)

Azur (Germany)

Azur Air logo.png

  • Düsseldorf, Germany
  • 4 July 2017 to 26 September 2018 -1 year old 3 months
  • Two planes, eight destinations
  • Founded  by Turkish-Dutch tour operator Anex Tourism Group as part of an expansion into the German leisure market, the airline never generated enough business
  • Owners attempted to sell the air operators license before shutting down airline completely

Backbone Aviation

Logo of BackBone Aviation

  • Esbjerg, Denmark
  • 2011 to 17 January 2018 -almost 7 years old
  • Two planes,
  • blamed financial difficulties on delayed delivery of additional aircraft in 2017 causing a UK  contract to be cancelled.
  • The insolvency of Powdair led to termination of a multi-aircraft ACMI deal days before commencement
  • it was sold to a group of Irish and American investors


Bin Air logo.png

  • Cologne, Germany
  • 1996 to 29 October 2018 -12 years old
  • Eight planes, Charter
  • in 2011, airline faces inclusion in the EU no-flight blacklist of banned airlines
  • German authorities revoked Bin Air’s air operator’s certificate
  • This was the front page of their webpage which does not inspire confidence for me:

a white text on a white background


Image result for blink air logo

  • Surrey England
  • May 2008 to July 2018 -10 years old
  • 15 planes, 600+ destinations
  • Provide on-demand private jet travel with the worst company slogan I have encountered: “Imagine a world where you Blink and you’re there“
  • Taken over by Luxembourg operator Wijet in October 2016 who shut down Blink blaming poor performance of the division, an aging fleet post-Brexit uncertainty, and rising competition.
  • Wijet said they believed the acquisition was a mistake: “The company [Blink] was found to never have been profitable,” Ouch!

Cello Aviation formerly Altavia Jet Services

Cello Aviation logo.jpg

  • Birmingham, England
  • 2009 to 12 October 2018– 9 years old
  • 2 planes, Charter
  • Biggest claim to fame is that they flew Queen Elizabeth II,  to Dublin in 2011
  • the company had not made profit for some time and owed more than $US8.3 million – to its parent company Gill Group.
  • I liked the logo. Wondering why it was called Cello.



  • Cobalt Air Logo.svgNicosia, Cyprus
  • 1 June 2016 to 17 October 2018– 2 years old
  • Six planes, 23 destinations in Europe, Russia and the Middle East
  • Probably one of the most significant collapses of 2018
  • Originally started as low cost carrier, it transitioned to a full service carrier adding Business Class, a lounge and frequent flyer program. Code shared with Etihad
  • they were CAPA Airline Start-Up of the Year in 2017 having delivered “the greatest impact on the industry since its launch”
  • The cash-struck airline reportedly lost the support of their key Chinese investor and was unable to reach a deal with a European investor. It apparently had only $USD16million in its account when it ceased operating

DART Ukrainian Airlines

  • Dart airlines logo.pngKiev, Ukraine
  • 1997 to April 2018 -21 years
  • Three planes, six destinations in Albania, Georgia, Greece, Montenegro & Ukraine
  • The USA added them to a sanctions list for allegedly “supporting Iranian activity the Trump administration considers hostile”
  • Dart Ukrainian advertisement:

Fly Orange
Logo of FlyOrange

  • Maastricht, Netherlands
  • April 2018 to 27 July 2018- 3 months
  • A Dutch virtual carrier which operated regular flights between Netherlands, Belgium and Morocco.
  • Airline ran into dispute with one of its partners
  • Passengers stranded in Europe and Morocco


FlyViking Logo 2.png

  • Lyngseidet, Troms, Norway
  • 27 March 2017 to 12 January 2018- 9.5 months old
  • Three planes, eleven destinations
  • Airline ran out of cash

Great Lakes Airlines
Great Lakes Airlines (logo).png

  • Denver, USA
  • 1977 to 26 Mar 2018- 41 years old
  • 34 planes, ten destinations
  • Shutdown blamed on“availability of pilots…At the end of the day, it’s about the pilot-supply issue”.
  • The airline will still provide some charter services

Imagine Air

IA Logo Official - 2010.png

  • Atlanta, USA
  • November 2005 to May 2018- 12.5 years old
  • 34 planes, 900 destinationsI
  • ImagineAir was an air taxi service with reportedly the largest piston engine fleet in the world
  • In 2016 it warned “Scaling the business with its high overhead costs–each aircraft costs ImagineAir around $700,000–has been tough.”
  • In 2018, the airline was “unable to secure the necessary short-term funding to continue operations, nor the long-term funding to scale the company to profitable scale.”



JETGO Australia logo.svg

  • Brisbane, Australia
  • 2011 to 1 June 2018- 7 years old
  • Five planes, 12 destinations
  •  1 June 2018  placed under voluntary administration
  • Supreme Court of New South Wales ruled that JETGO be liquidated
  • Jetgo owed A$38 million to creditors and may have been trading while insolvent since 30 June 2016

Laynha Air (Gove)

a helicopter and plane flying in a triangular shape

  • Gove, Australia
  • August, 1989 to 1 June 2018- almost 29 years old
  • One plane, multiple destinations
  • Operated charter flights out of its base at Gove serving the needs of the Aboriginal communities spread around the Arnhem Land in Northern Australia.
  • Ceased operations after its owner the Laynhapuy Aviation Aboriginal Corporation saw no further business case to keep the airline running. Its services were taken over by Mission Aviation Fellowship of Australia


LAW –Latin American Wings

Logo of Latin American Wings.png

  • Santiago, Chile
  • 27 January 2016 to 10 March 2018 -2 years 1 months
  • Five planes, six destinations
  • Domestic flights ceased in the January
  • airline blamed the suspension on competition from other low-cost competitor. I think they did not have enough cash invested up front


LTA – Linea Turistica Aereotuy

Línea Turística Aereotuy logo.png

  • Caracas, Venezuela
  • 1982 to June 2018 -35 years old
  • Three planes, two destinations
  • A victim of the Venezuelan economy. It plans to re-start



Nature Air (was Travel Air until 2000)

Nature Air logo.svg

  • San Jose, Costa Rica
  • 1990 to 2 May 2018- 18 years old
  • Two planes, 15 destinations in Costa Rica
  • World’s first carbon neutral airline and used biodiesel fuel in 90% of their ground vehicles and generators.
  • In 2017, had two fatal crashes and four planes were repossessed meaning the airline could not operate
  • The General Directorate of Civil Aviation of Costa Rica indefinitely suspended their operating permit in early 2019



Nextjet logo.svg

  • Stockholm area, Sweden
  • 2002 to 16 May 2018- 16 years old
  • 15 planes, 22 destinations in Finland and Sweden
  • Björn Ulvaeus former ABBA member was invested in the airline.
  • Many of its routes were subsidised by the Swedish government.
  • NextJet had one of its planes sabotaged at Gällivare airport in October 2017.  
  • SAS stooped code sharing with them in late 2017.
  • Air Leap has taken over the remnants of bankrupt NextJet
Norfolk Island Airlines

Norfolk island Airlines logo. (Norfolk Island Airlines)

  • Norfolk Island, Australia
  • June 2017 to 19 March 2018-  10 months old
  • One plane, two destinations (Brisbane and the Island)- the airline was also flying to Auckland but this soon proved unprofitable
  • Flights had been operated on a wet-lease basis by Nauru Airlines in competition
  • They offered three cabin classes:  economy, premium and business classes. All passengers arriving on the island were given a three day tour
  • The airline cited prohibitive costs
  • The airline will continue to operate freight services to the island. Air New Zealand will offer a thrice weekly service from Brisbane
One Jet

OneJet logo.svg

    • Pittsburgh, USA
    • 2015 to 29 August 2018- 3 years old
    • Eight planes, 19 destinations
    • OneJet provided scheduled point-to-point flights operated by small business jets and regional aircraft under a public charter arrangement
    • Offered a range of free facilities including WiFi and checked baggage
    • Airline ran out of cash and Investors lost patience
    • They claimed they would begin operating again October 1, 2018 but have not to date returned

Open Skies


  • Paris, France
  • 19 June 2008 to 29 August 2018- 10 years old
  • Two planes, three destinations (Newark, New York, Paris)
  • OpenSkies opearted under the EU-US Open Skies Agreement, which permits any US or EU airline to operate services to/from any EU or US airport
  • Merged with L’Avion on 4 April 2009
  • Ceased operating under its own brand to operate for IAG’s new low-cost subsidiary Level


Orca Airways



Palau Pacific Airways

Palau Pacific Airways logo.jpg

  • Koror, Palau
  • November 2014 to July 2018- almost 4 years old
  • One planes, two destinations (Hong Kong, Koror)
  • Launched scheduled charter flights between Hong Kong and its base Koror
  • A victim of politics. In October 2017, the Chinese government banned the use of the word ‘Palau’ in all sales materials on all online and offline sales and marketing. In 2018, it become illegal to sell tour packages for Chinese tourists to visit Palau. China has labelled Palau an “illegal tour destination” as it recognises Taiwan which is against Chinese policy. China barred its citizens from visiting.


PAWA Dominican (Pan Am World Airways)

a close up of a sign

  • Dominican Republic– Flag Carrier
  • 14 Aug 2015 to 28 Jan 2018- 2.5 years
  • Seven planes, eight destinations (Antigua, Aruba, Curaçao, Havana, San Juan and St. Maarten )
  • Collapsed owing money to 7000 customers and the Dominican government
  • PAWA Dominicana’s assets were seized by the Dominican government
  • the airline’s President, Gary Stone, was taken into custody as he tried to flee to Miami in the first week of February.


Primera Air logo.svg

  • Copenhagen, Denmark and Riga, Latvia
  • 2003 to 2 October 2018 – 15 years
  • Seven planes, 41 destinations
  • Airline expanded from its original Nordic/Scandinavian regional carrier to compete in the trans-Atlantic market. Its planes arrived late leading to cancellations and expensive emergency leasing arrangements
  • The expansion killed an already unprofitable carrier
  • Some passengers learned that the airline was shut down while in line to board the plane

Saratov (founded as Saratov United Air Squad, then became Saravia until 2013)

  • Saratov Airlines logo.pngSaratov, Russia
  • 1931 to 31 May 2018- 77 years old
  • Eight planes, 21 destinations
  • From 2015 Saratov had several safety concerns. Its operating certificates were suspended then reinstated by Russian aviation authorities.
  • On 11 February 2018, a Saratov Airlines flight 703, operating as an Antonov An-148-100B crashed six minutes after takeoff with all 71 on board killed. The reason was human error as the pilots didn’t switch on the heat detection sensors on the plane causing the airspeed sensors to become covered with ice.
  • This crash resulted in the airline finally losing its permissions to operate


SBA (formerly Santa Barbara Airlines

  • SBA Airlines logo.svgCaracas, Venezuela
  • 1 March 1997 to 26 April 2018- 21 years
  • Five planes, three destinations
  • Had been the country’s leading carrier since the demise of VIASA and AVENSA
  • In late January 2018, the Venezulan National Institute of Civil Aviation suspended SBA Airlines for 90 days as the airline had cancelled flights that had stranded passengers in Miami.



    • Sky Work Airlines logo.svgBern, Switzerland
    • 1983 to 29 August 2018- 35 years old
    • Six planes, 20 destinations
    • The airline had financial troubles for most of 2017. Flights were suspended in October 2017 while they looked for a new investor.

Small Planet Airlines

Image result for small planet airlines logo

  • Vilnius, Lithuania
  • 2008 to 28 November 2018- 10 years
  • 29 planes, 20 destinations
  • A complicated airline structure with subsidiaries in  Cambodia Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, and Thailand (never flew)
  • On 24 October 2018, Small Planet Airlines entered a restructuring process due to financial difficulties.  Its German Polish and Cambodian subsidiaries ceased operations in Novermbers. On 28 November 2018, the Lithuanian aviation authority  revoked their operations license resulting in the grounding of all of its flights

Sparrow Aviation (previously known as Flyglinjen)

a purple and orange logo

  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2010 to 25 June 2018- 8 years
  • One plane, Two destinations
  • Sparrow Aviation kept adding and dropping Swedish domestic routes. Each route it flew had a very short lifespan.
  • Its only remaining route was taken over by the Swedish carrier BRA
  • Sparrow filed for bankruptcy.

UP by El Al

  • Up Airlines logo.pngTel Aviv, Israel
  • November, 2013 to 4 October 2018- 5 years
  • Four planes, Six destinations
  • This low cost El Al subsidiary was folded back into the main carrier after an experiment that clearly did not work as intended.

Virgin America*

Virgin America logo.svg

    • San Francisco area, USA
    • 8 Aug 2007 to 24 Apr 2018- not quite 11 years
    • 67 planes, 24 destinations
    • Virgin America never made any money but were a great airline to fly. Bought by Alaska, their name has now disappeared. I will miss them.


  • VLM Airlines logo.pngBrussels, Belgium
  • 30 October 2017 to 18 December 2018- 1 year 1 month
  • 4 plane, 2 destinations
  • One of my pieces of advice for aspiring airline owners is do not re start an airline or use an old name. VLM did not listen to me
  • In June 2016 VLM Airlines declared bankruptcy and completely shut down 
  • In 2017 it re started as VLM Brussels and VLM Antwerp
  • VLM Antwerp went into liquidation in August 2018 and VLM Brussels declared bankruptcy in December 2018


Wataniya Airways

  • WA Logo.svgKuwait City, Kuwait
  • January 2009 to 2 September 2018- 9 years 9 months
  • 1 plane, 17 destinations
  • Started as Business and Premium Economy only airline but suspended operations in 2011 after finding this model did not work. In July 2017 the airline resumed operations but changed to all Economy class!
  • August, 2018 saw cancellations and delays with Kuwaiti government warning it of imminent shutdown
  • The September 2018 loss of its two leased A320s and the grounding of its only owned plane for maintenance issues resulted  cancellation of all flights
  • Wataniya’s AOC was revoked in December 2018 putting the carrier out of business again. I think they are gone



  • Germany
  • 15 December 2017 to July 2018- not quite 9 months old!
  • One plane, two destinations
  • Yourways was founded in 2016 by the two former Air Berlin managers who planned to connect mainland Germany and North Sea islands
  • First aircraft was an eight seater Quest Kodiak. They promised major expansion and larger planes


  1. Nature Air, wow, I flew them several times many years ago in Costa Rica, they had really cool liveries and went to a lot of little places in the middle of no where. Hope someone will be picking up their routes.

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