UK Leasing

Airline startups looking for opportunities in a crisis

You don’t think that in the midst of a pandemic, launching a new airline would be a good idea. But there are a few brave souls who believe now is exactly the right time. Let’s take a look at some of the airline startups we’ve seen in recent months that feel they have what it takes to be successful out of a crisis.

For some airline startups, the pandemic was an opportunity shrouded in crisis. Photo: Avelo


In preparation long before COVID became reality, Breeze was officially announced last year. The low cost airline is another startup from serial airline entrepreneur David Neeleman, and is targeting secondary cities with point-to-point routes. Dubbed the ‘best’ airline you’ve ever flown, Neeleman hopes to capture traffic on underserved direct routes.

Breeze presented itself as an operator of new non-stop routes as a “nice” carrier. Photo: Breeze Airways

It will launch later this year with the Embraer 190 and 195, but will soon begin adding A220s to its fleet.

By bike

Avelo took the market by surprise. He had barely been noticed until he burst onto the scene, launching his first flight in late April from Hollywood Burbank in California. Much like Breeze, it targets point-to-point services on underserved routes and is led by former United Airlines executive Andrew Levy.

Avelo Aircraft Interior & Exterior 737
Avelo began flights to the United States last month. Photo: Avelo

It currently has only three Boeing 737 NGs in service, but has big expansion plans. Just this week, it was announced that he was eyeing an East Coast base in Connecticut, which has allowed him to sharply gain market share and seize opportunities where he can.

EGO Airways

Moving away from the United States, EGO Airways plans to fill the gaps in the Italian domestic market. Flying on 11 routes initially, it will link different Italian cities with its two 100-seat E190s, operating in interesting W rotations to accommodate six sectors per day.

EGO Airways
EGO Airways will be an Italian workhorse. Photo: EGO Airways

EGO embarked on its maiden flight in early April, and more routes will be launched in the coming weeks. From June he will base a third plane at Milan Bergamo, providing connections to Rome and other destinations as we enter the peak summer season.


With a gap in the Icelandic low-cost market still to be filled since WOW ceased operations in 2019, PLAY should be the one to fill it. The airline has been building its finances, staff and operational infrastructure for a few years now, and finally seems ready to take off.

PLAY Icelandic Airline
PLAY is expected to receive its first A321neo later this month. Photo: PLAY

PLAY will initially serve European destinations, notably Paris, London, Copenhagen, Tenerife and Alicante. It is expected to receive its first A321neo later this month, with two more joining the fleet in July. The launch is scheduled for June 24e. There is still a lot of ambition at PLAY to go transatlantic as well, with a rough plan to start flying to the United States from December of this year.


It’s been almost two years since Simple Flying met Nino Judge, CEO of British start-up flyPOP. Now the airline is considering launching services between the UK and India, using leased A330s it signed up for last month. With registered planes, the airline can now apply from its air operator certificate, before flights start.

flyPOP leases A330s for low cost services to India from the UK. Photo: flyPOP

Targeting VFR traffic, flyPOP describes itself as “the UK’s only low cost, long haul airline”. It intends to target underserved and overrated direct connections to India, including to Amritsar and Ahmedabad.

AVA Airways

Based in the Dominican Republic, AVA Airways aims to meet demand between its home in Santo Domingo and various destinations in the Caribbean, Latin America and North America. It has also floated in Europe and Africa and plans to launch its service in the second or third quarter of this year.

Ava airways
Based in the Dominican Republic, AVA wishes to connect to several continents. Photo: AVA Airways

Led by Olivier Arrindell, the company has ambitious growth plans. It plans to start service with the Airbus A320s and received its license from the Dominican CAA in March this year. In its long-term plan, there are subsidiary airlines in Curacao and Sint Maarten, both of which have been incorporated under the brand but not yet launched.

Stay informed: Subscribe to our Daily and weekly aviation news summaries.

And there’s more

That’s not all. There are many more airline startups that are risking all of this despite COVID. Lattitude Hub in the Canaries, a bus company founded ITA Transportes Aereos, PRAGUSA.ONE, Super Air Jet, Ecuatoriana… the list goes on.

While air traffic may be stifled due to the pandemic, these startups are actually launching from a very strong position. Aircraft rental rates are very low, there are plenty of used vehicles to choose from, and jet fuel is still cheaper than it has been for many years. Add to that the fact that unlike most existing carriers these airlines are entering the industry debt free, you can see the pull.

Watching startups form, evolve and get started is always interesting, just like getting into the minds of those who found these challengers. The next FTE APEX Virtual Expo offers an opportunity to do just that, with a session specifically for these new and emerging carriers. The “ New Airlines C-Suite Summit ” will take place on Tuesday, May 25e at 1:30 p.m. London time. Featured speakers will be:

  • Olivier Arrindell – CEO of Ava Airways
  • Matteo Bonecchi – CEO of EGO Airways
  • Arnar Magnusson – PLAY COO
  • (Nino) Navdip Singh Judge – CEO and Founder of flyPOP

The session will be moderated by Aaron Heselhurst, a news anchor and service presenter. It should be a super interesting session and a chance to hear from these executives what the visions and ambitions of their airlines are.

In addition to the New Airlines C-Suite Summit, FTE APEX Virtual Expo includes:

  • Over 100 speakers including CEOs of United Airlines, Etihad, AirAsia, WestJet, oneworld, Saudia Airlines, Scoot, Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, Gatwick Airport, Los Angeles Global Airports, Airport from Pittsburgh and Sydney Western Airport.
  • More than 150 airlines and airports have already signed up for a free access pass to all zones, including the virtual exhibition hall, conference sessions and networking zones.

Early bird registration ends today – May 7e – therefore reserve your spot today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.