Which airlines are due to start operations by the end of 2021?

Stefano Garau / Shutterstock, Norse Atlantic Airways

While some air carriers were forced to park their entire fleets or even cease operations permanently, others decided to take a risk and launch their business amid the ongoing pandemic. AeroTime investigates which airlines are due to start operations by the end of 2021.

Norse Atlantic Airways: a new Norwegian airline to take advantage of a gap in the long-haul market

Norse Atlantic Airways is a European low-cost carrier due to launch operations in the near future. Founded in February 2021, the new Norwegian air carrier is supposed to take off in late 2021 or early 2022.  

The new holder of a Norwegian Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) is set to operate a monogamous fleet of 15 Boeing 787 Dreamliners powered by the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine. The start-up air carrier has already signed a lease agreement with lessor BOC Aviation for six 789-9 jets. The airline also plans to lease six used 787-9s and three 787-8s w from Irish aircraft leasing company AerCap. Two Norse Atlantic Airways Boeing 787-9s have already received the new airline’s registration as LN-LNO and LN-LNR, Planespotters.com data shows. 

Norse Atlantic hopes that the wide-range Boeing 787 Dreamliners will help it to offer affordable long-haul services since jets of the type are considered a modern and fuel-efficient option for serving transatlantic routes. The start-up airline’s business strategy focuses on a low-cost market for international air travel between various European countries and the United States. 

It is speculated that Norse Atlantic will attempt to take advantage of a gap in the low-cost long-haul transatlantic market left by Norwegian Air Shuttle. Headquartered in Arendal, Norway, Norse Atlantic Airways will fly similar routes as the troubled Norwegian Air Shuttle did, connecting various European cities with the United States. Such destinations will initially include Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Paris, London, and Oslo.

Norse Atlantic Airways shows its livery

Norse Atlantic Airways / flynorse.com

Italia Trasporto Aereo – a promising replacement for the ever-loss-making predecessor Alitalia

The newly born flag carrier of Italy, Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA), which was set up in October 2020 as a replacement for the loss-making predecessor Alitalia, will soon become another new player of the European market. 

The new state-owned Italian air carrier with the main hub in Rome, Italy, will launch operations by mid-October 2021. ITA, which is attempting to secure the brand of its predecessor Alitalia, has already received an Italian AOC and the Air Transport Operating License, issued by the Italian National Civil Aviation Authority. The recent move gave ITA the green light for takeoff in the upcoming fall.

Starting with an initial network of 45 destinations and 61 routes in 2021, the airline aims to expand the network to 74 destinations and 89 routes around the world by the end of 2025. 

By the launch day, ITA plans to have an initial fleet of 52 aircraft, including seven wide-bodies. It then plans to expand the fleet to 78 jets (13 wide-body and 65 narrow-body) by 2022 and reach 105 jets by the end of 2025.

However, it is difficult to name which commercial aircraft ITA will fly since none of the official data on the matter was officially confirmed by the air carrier. Judging on local media reports from July 2021, ITA may own a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing jets. Airbus is reportedly in negotiations with the Italian airline over a $5.3 billion worth of tender. If Airbus wins ITA’s order, the company may manufacture 81 new-generation aircraft within four years. However, Boeing also seems to have a huge interest in providing its aircraft to Alitalia’s successor. The US manufacturer is reportedly ready to offer as much as a 70% discount for the deal if the airline chooses it instead of the European Competitor.


rarrarorro / Shutterstock

Flypop: the start-up carrier betting on Indian travelers

A start-up airline from the United Kingdom, Flypop, could be also added to the list of air carriers that are about to launch their operations. Founded in 2014, the British low-cost carrier has recently confirmed its base at London Stansted Airport (STN), while planning to start flying as soon as October 2021. 

At the beginning of operations, Flypop plans to fly a single-class-configured 8.1-years-old Airbus A330-300 wide-body jet, which previously held registration number RP-C3342 and was flying Cebu Pacific routes since 2013, indicates the Planespotters.com data. The airline aims to expand the fleet by adding a few A300neos in the future and expects to receive three jets in early 2022. 

Flypop’s business model is based on low-cost long-haul services between the UK and secondary cities in India. The start-up air carrier bets on a potential post-pandemic surge of demand of budget travelers, Indian tourists mainly, who lack direct flights between the UK and India. The initial network should include four Indian destinations, including Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, and Goa. 

By 2022, Flypop expects to operate ten routes in and from London, according to its website. The network should consist of the five already named cities and six more destinations, including Lucknow, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, and Kochi.

Currently, Flypop undergoes the final stages of attaining its UK’s AOC.

Connect Airlines: Canadian start-up taking ex-Flybe aircraft

In the North American market, a start-up airline Connect Airlines was founded in April 2021 and intends to launch operations as soon as October 2021. Based in Toronto, Canada, the airline is backed by Waltzing Matilda Aviation, a Massachusetts-based air charter company.

The fleet will consist of two De Havilland Canada DHC-8-400 turboprops, which the air carrier has already leased from Canadian lessor Chorus Aviation Capital. Both 13-year-old planes previously belonged to Flybe, a British airline that ceased operations in March 2020. Both turboprops are supposed to be delivered to the new owner in September and November 2021. 

Connect Airlines hopes to serve daily commuting business travelers. It will focus on regional routes connecting the United States Midwest and Northeast cities with its hub at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ), Toronto Island. 

Canadian start-up airline Connect Airlines will take ex-Flybe air

Laurent ERRERA / Wikimedia Commons

Ecuatoriana Airlines: a nostalgic brief of the now-defunct national air carrier in South America

Ecuadorian start-up air carrier Ecuatoriana Airlines will likely enter the South American aviation market in mid-fall 2021. Set up in 2020, the new airline was named after its predecessor, the now-defunct national air carrier of the country Ecuatoriana de Aviacion. Ecuatoriana Airlines is expected to fill the gap of regional connectivity left after Ecuatoriana de Aviacion was liquidated in 2006.

Even though Ecuatoriana Airlines, or so-called Ecuatoriana de Aviacion 2.0, should start operations in October 2021, it is still not yet clear what fleet it will operate.  It is speculated that Ecuatoriana might operate Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprops and Boeing 717-200 jets. However, so far the airline has only confirmed the livery of its 717 jets.

Ecuatoriana Airlines currently is undergoing its Ecuadorian AOC obtainment process, which it hopes to complete by September 2021.  

The new air carrier plans to offer short flights between its base at Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO), Quito, and Guayaquil, Cuenca, Loja, and Manta, as well as a direct connection between Ecuador and Galapagos Islands.

Zambia Airways: a new joint venture between the government and Ethiopian Airlines

The aviation market in Africa is set to welcome a new player in the upcoming fall. September 30, 2021, marks the day when a new African air carrier, Zambia Airways, is supposed to launch operations. 

A joint venture between the Industrial Development Corporation an investment company wholly owned by the Zambian government, which owns 55% of the airline’s shares, and Ethiopian Airlines, which holds 45% of the new company, was established in 2018 and was supposed to launch passenger flights the same year, but due to certification issues Zambia Airways was delayed.

In early August 2021, the new national air carrier confirmed to the local media outlet ZNBC that it would fly two DHC-8-Q400s turboprops as well as a single Boeing 737-800 jet, all of them leased from Ethiopian Airlines. Zambia Airways is expected to operate domestic Zambian routes to Livingstone, Ndola, and Solwezi as well as regional destinations to Johannesburg in South Africa, and Harare in Zimbabwe from its base at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN) in Lusaka.


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