The worst crisis in aviation history isn’t over, but new airlines are already sizing up the post-pandemic market. While some may succeed, their aggression bodes better for travelers than investors.
Global airline capacity is still down 40% relative to January 2020 and travel restrictions aren’t coming down. Many carriers, such as Avianca , Aeroméxico and Norwegian Air Shuttle , remain in administration.
Yet startups are sprouting to take their place.
The latest big announcement came last month from the founder and former chief executive of Norwegian, Bjørn Kjos, who will once again attempt to bring low-cost flights to trans-Atlantic routes with a new venture, Norse Atlantic Airways. Similarly, Icelandic startup Play is stepping into the shoes of WOW air, which closed down in 2019 after attempting the unorthodox combination of low-cost routes and a hub-based network strategy.
Most startups will focus on shorter routes. Traditional hub-and-spoke networks have shrunk during the pandemic, and analysts believe they may permanently exclude many regional airports. India’s Flybig, Italy’s EGO Airways and Houston-based Avelo Airlines all plan to fill that gap.