As in most years, there were a whole slew of airlines that went under in 2006. There were large ones and small ones, old ones and new ones. Some of them were well known while others were gone before you even knew they existed. While many if not all of these deserved to go under, they at least deserve a proper burial. So, let’s remember the airlines that went away and the employees who lost their jobs in 2006.
BWIA has the most history of any airline that went out of business this year. Flying in the Caribbean for more than 60 years, many thought that the airline would never go away. This year it was announced that the airline would fold on December 31 only to be replaced by the new Caribbean Airlines. BWIA flew within the Americas and to Europe and had approximately 1,700 employees.
Air Gabon, a small regional player initially, took on its current name in 1977 after Gabon backed out of the Air Afrique consortium. The airline flew primarily within Africa and to Europe with a variety of aircraft over the years. The government shut down Air Gabon in 2006 in order to replace it with a new privately held airline.
Independence Air proved to be one of the most spectacular airline collapses in history. It took only 18 months to go from a very profitable regional airline to completely insolvent as an independent airline. Management thought that going independent would work despite warnings from just about everyone to the contrary. At its height, the airline had 5,000 employees.
Air Wales was founded to fly regional routes out of Wales, primarily from Cardiff. There were 120 employees at the airline which operated throughout the British Isles and to Paris and Brussels. After several attempts to save the airline, hope was finally lost and the airline shut down for good.
Australian was effectively restructured out of existence by its parent company, Qantas. Australian was born as Qantas’ long haul low cost carrier flying within the Australia/Pacific region. In 2006, Qantas decided to shut down the Australian brand and instead expand its short haul low cost carrier Jetstar into the long haul market.
QuikAir was a small commuter airline flying in the great white north of Canada. The airline flew up to six BAe Jetstream turboprops from its home base in Calgary. The airline found its niche flying between Calgary and Edmonton’s City Centre airport, but once Edmonton forced them to move to the international airport, the airline started its downhill slide.
CanJet didn’t technically go out of business, but they ceased scheduled operations in 2006 only to focus on the charter side. The airline focused on low fare flights in Atlantic Canada, especially from its Halifax base. After a short stint into the West, the airline began to retrench and decided to completely stop scheduled operations in September.
Who could forget Hooters Air? The airline brought horny men from small cities around the country to golf in places like Myrtle Beach and Las Vegas. The airline went in and out of markets all the time, desperately trying to find its niche. The airline is survived by its parent, Pace Airlines, which continues to operate charter services.
Song is the most colorful of the airlines to disappear this year. Song was the airline-within-an-airline concept Delta created that was bound to fail from the beginning. With hand-picked crews, the airline was known for great service and excellent amenities, including live television. Song was folded into Delta but many of the amenities pioneered in Song live on with the parent today.
Styrian Spirit was based in Graz, Austria and also flew as Slovenian Spirit from nearby Maribor, Slovenia. The airline flew regional jets throughout Europe, but Styrian Spirit ran out of money and was forced to shut down in late-March of 2006.
Air Madrid was like a match. It sparked quickly, grew fast, and then went out in the blink of an eye. The airline flew around the world from Spain, bringing its brand of non-existent customer service and massive delays to people worldwide. The airline mercifully shut down before the government was to shut them down for unsafe practices. Over 1,000 people lost their jobs.
Centavia didn’t last very long. The airline was a low cost carrier based in Serbia. It was to fly to surrounding countries, but it was denied rights in all of them. Consequently, the airline had no routes and two planes. That wasn’t the right combination for success (duh), and the airline disappeared in 2006.
FaroeJet was based in the Faroe Islands and flew a single aircraft between the Faroes and Copenhagen, Denmark. I’d imagine there weren’t many people who saw a need for two airlines based in the Faroes, and sure enough, FaroeJet failed while the older Atlantic Airways continues to fly.
OzJet was the creation of auto racing owner Paul Stoddart. The airline flew all business class flights between Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, not the best plan for a flight of barely more than one hour in duration. After barely more than 2 months of bleeding money, the airline was shut down and people promptly forgot the airline even existed.
Air Turquoise was founded as an attempt to fly turboprops around smaller airports in France and to London. The airline first flew out of Reims but moved to Vatry soon after launch. It never caught on, and Air Turquoise stopped flying in July.