- The year 2019 was tough for airlines. So far, it looks like 2020 will be the same – especially as the coronavirus outbreak wreaks havoc on the entire travel industry.
- Airlines around the world saw a range of bankruptcies, liquidations, and failures, with many forced to shut down in 2019.
- UK regional airline Flybe just ceased operations and entered administration, ending a 40-year run, putting 2,000 people out of work, and leaving numerous cities without direct connectivity.
- Here are the airlines we’ve lost throughout 2019 and 2020.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The last year-plus has been filled with highs and lows for the airline industry.
On the one hand, established players like Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have seen strong growth, customer loyalty, and new opportunities – in some cases, setting records. Even some budget airlines like Norwegian Air have seen headwinds dying down, stabilizing finances, and an end to maintenance disasters.
On the other hand, the past two years have also been a bloodbath. Tons of airlines have gone out of business, some of which were well-known around the world.
Bankruptcies caused by flawed business models, tight competition, bad management, and unexpected costs caused them to shutter operations and, in some cases, go into administration and completely sell off assets.
Costs associated with the Boeing 737 Max grounding and required inspections and repairs on certain Boeing 787 Dreamliner engines were another pain point.
Now, as the coronavirus outbreak squeezes airline margins and continues to lead to plummeting demand for travel, it looks like this year’s headwinds will continue to grow stronger.
“2019 has seen the fastest growth in airline failure in history,” airline consulting firm IBA told Reuters last October.
The year 2020 looks to be off to a similar start, with Thursday’s news that UK airline Flybe would collapse after years of financial difficulties, an acquisition, and failed rescue efforts.
Here are the commercial airlines that have been forced to close their doors and fold up their wings.
California Pacific Airlines: January 2019
A regional airline based in Carlsbad, California, California Pacific Airlines only flew commercially for a few months before suspending operations. The airline says it is planning to restructure and resume flights, possibly in 2020.
Germania: February 2019
Berlin-based Germania started as a charter airline, but eventually grew to operate commercial service.
Fuel prices, a series of delays in summer 2018, and increasing pressure from low-cost carriers all led to the airline’s failure.
Flybmi: February 2019
A British regional carrier based in North West Leicestershire, the airline was a former subsidiary of British Midland International. The airline blamed an increase in fuel and carbon costs, along with Brexit uncertainty.
Fly Jamaica Airways: March 2019
The Kingston, Jamaica-based airline ceased operations due to a lack of aircraft five months after one of its two Boeing 767-300ER was damaged in a crash-landing in Guyana.
Wow Air: March 2019
The Icelandic ultra-low-cost carrier disrupted the transatlantic market by offering flights between North America and Europe for as little as £99, or $US128, each way with a stop in Reykjavik.
Wow Air began flying in 2012 and expanded to North America in 2015.
“One of the mistakes that I made, that Wow made in the last 18 months, was that we were moving away from the low-cost model,” Mogensen told Business Insider in 2019. “Most significantly we made our fleet structure unnecessarily complex with the addition of the wide-body A330 to our fleet.”
Jet Airways: April 2019
Jet Airways, based in Mumbai, India, fell apart after years of steep financial losses amidst an onslaught of competition from low-cost newcomers.
XL Airways: September 2019
French carrier XL Airways (previously called Star Airlines, XL) was a leisure airline that ran out of cash and could not secure additional investments.
Aigle Azur: September 2019
Another French carrier, Aigle Azur, tried to launch a new strategy, with new routed and planes, as early as 2018, but ultimately ran out of cash and collapsed the following year.
Adria Airways: September 2019
The former flag carrier of Slovenia, Adria lost money in the early 2000s and 2010s and despite several reorganization attempts, was never able to recover.
Thomas Cook: September 2019
The 178-year-old British travel company and airline collapsed after failing to secure £200 million, or about $US249 million, in emergency funding following a demand from its lenders. About 600,000 holidaymakers were left stranded, leading to the largest peacetime repatriation effort in British history.
Air Italy: February 2020
Air Italy started flights in 2018, in an effort to capitalise as Italian flag carrier Alitalia struggled. Less than two years after launching its first flight, it announced on Tuesday that it would liquidate.
The airline said it would continue to operate flights through February 25. Anyone with flights after that will receive a refund after requesting one from the airline. Passengers scheduled to travel before February 25 can also request a refund instead of travelling.
AtlasGlobal: February 2020
Just one day after Air Italy shut down, Turkish airline AtlasGlobal also closed its doors, following a restructuring and operating suspension.
Flybe: March 2020
Despite a takeover in July 2019 by a Virgin Atlantic-led consortium, and efforts at a bailout by the British government, Flybe ultimately could not overcome its financial difficulties.Reduced travel bookings due to the coronavirus proved to be the final nail in the coffin.
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