Airlines We Lost in 2013

Airlines We Lost, Kingfisher

Another year has come to a close, and with it, so have the lives of several airlines. There weren’t any spectacular shutdowns as we’ve seen in previous years, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a handful of interesting stories to pop up. I’m sure I missed some obscure airlines out there, so feel free to add your own in the comments.

Kingfisher Airlines Shut Down
Kingfisher – January 1, 2013
Admittedly, this one was a little late. Kingfisher really shut down in 2012 but there were so many promises that it would come back, I wasn’t convinced it was truly dead. I was wrong. Founded by the Richard Branson of India, Vijay Mallya, Kingfisher had a meteoric rise when India deregulated air travel. It grew fast, bought Air Deccan, announced plans to join oneworld, and ordered a ton of airplanes. It created amazing service levels and won plenty of awards, but it was horribly unprofitable. Management continued to lie about how things would all work out. In the end, a lot of workers were stiffed and the airline fell apart.

Ryan Intl Shut Down
Ryan International – January 11, 2013
No, no, this isn’t Ryanair. That airline continues to make silly money flying around Europe. Ryan International was a US-based airline that you probably never knew. Why? Because Ryan flew airplanes mostly under the names of other companies. It was an airline for hire, basically. It did a lot of military work as well, but it lost those contracts over time. Ryan also leased out airplanes to whomever needed them. I guess nobody needed their small fleet anymore, because they disappeared without making any real noise.

OLT Express Germany Shut Down
OLT Express Germany – January 28, 2013
For years, OLT was a small regional airline in Germany, but things went downhill and eventually it was purchased by a Polish company. That’s when things got interesting. The Polish company also purchased two Polish airlines and merged them into OLT Express in Poland. The German airline became OLT Express Germany and they were going to take over Europe with their awesomeness… or not. The parent company’s fortunes (or lack thereof) crumbled and OLT Express in Poland failed last year. OLT Express Germany hung on until this year. Under new ownership it merged with Contact Air, but it wasn’t enough. The airline was struggling and it was eventually put out of its misery.

Bahrain Air Shut Down
Bahrain Air – February 13, 2013
Bahrain Air was a confused little airline from the beginning. When it launched in 2008, it was supposed to be a low cost carrier. That lasted for a couple of years until the airline made an about-face and decided to become full service. That didn’t work, and the airline bled to death. Apparently, it didn’t want to go down without a fight, so it hoisted the blame on to the government. Bahrain Air said the unstable political situation led to the failure of the airline. I guess there’s only room for one poorly-run airline in Bahrain, and that’s Gulf Air.

Chathams Pacific Shut Down
Chathams Pacific – March 3, 2013
If you want to hear a tale of crazy government policy, look no further than Tonga. Air Chathams is based in New Zealand specializing in flights to the distant Chatham Islands. But back in 2007, it stepped into the domestic Tongan market, one that has seen failed airline after failed airline. Things were going ok but the government decided it wanted competition. So it took an MA-60 airplane that was gifted to it by China (who knows why) and offered it on lease to a local mechanic to start his own airline. Air Chathams, realizing this was an impossible competitive situation, decided to walk away and shut down Chathams Pacific. I can’t say I blame them.

Armavia Shut Down
Armavia – April 1, 2013
Armavia really was the closest thing Armenia had to a national airline for the last few years. Unfortunately for the company, that standing didn’t prevent the airline from going down the tubes. The owner simply was never able to get the airline on strong financial footing and racked up debt like crazy. The state has apparently agreed to repay the debt, but the airline isn’t coming back. Armenia is now primarily reliant upon foreign airlines with a few flights by Air Armenia thrown in for good measure. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before someone else tries to start an airline there.

Saha Airlines Shut Down
Saha Airlines – April 9, 2013
I wasn’t quite sure whether to include Saha since it has shut down previously and come back from the dead. But this time, I fear it might be done for. And why do I care? Saha, based in Iran, was the last commercial operator of the 707. Yes, the 707, an airplane that makes Delta’s DC-9s look young. Saha clearly was only flying the airplanes because it couldn’t get any other airplanes thanks to the embargo against Iran. But enthusiasts loved it and flocked to the chance to fly the 707. For now, it appears those flights have ended. Maybe they will come back, but I’d be surprised. So long, 707.

Dutch Antilles Express Shut Down
Dutch Antilles Express – August 26, 2013
The Netherlands Antilles no longer exists, and now neither does its short-lived carrier Dutch Antilles Express (DAE). DAE was based in Curacao and bounced around the Caribbean, even reaching into the US. It did so while losing a bunch of money and relied on bailouts from the Curacao government to keep flying. Its last attempt at a loan was turned down by Curacao and that was the end of the line for the airline. It’s not uncommon to see Caribbean airlines disappear, so this one will probably be forgotten quickly.

Augsburg Airways Shut Down
Augsburg Airways – October 26, 2013
Augsburg Airways began life as a domestic airline within Germany. That lasted a couple decades, but by the turn of the century, change was in the air. In 2000, Augsburg became a regional affiliate of Lufthansa’s. The partnership grew and Augsburg decided to pass over more of its core functions to Lufthansa. But in 2012, Lufthansa decided to restructure its regional operation. As part of that, Augsburg found itself out in the cold with no flying left to do on Lufthansa’s behalf. The writing was on the wall, so, like Cirrus last year, Augsburg decided to just shut down. Its last flight was on behalf of Lufthansa on October 26.

flynonstop Shut Down
Flynonstop – October 29, 2013
These guys had a great plan. They were going to fly nonstop. But that’s kind of where the plan stopped. Six months after launch, they were out of money. Really they just wanted some more international flights from their base in Kristiansand, Norway (home of fewer than 100,000 people). So they leased an airplane and flew throughout Europe. Turns out the reason nobody flew internationally beyond Scandinavia was because there wasn’t enough demand. Unfortunately for their pocketbooks, it took them 6 months after launch to realize that fact.

Belle Air Shut Down
Belle Air – November 25, 2013
Little Belle Air started up as the first low cost carrier in Albania and when it shut down, it left… no carriers at all based in Albania as far as I can tell. What caused this airline to fail? How about the “general economic situation, the decline of the purchasing power, recession in the markets it operates as well as from the freezing for over 18 days of its bank accounts.” I’m gonna say that the last point might be the most salient. When Belle Air failed, its subsidiary Belle Air Europe in Kosovo went down as well. But fear not, they say it’s temporary. I’m sure they’ll be back up and running in no time. Yeah, that’s it.

Tulpar Air Shut Down
Tulpar Air – December 25, 2013
Tatarstan is a Russian republic that lies about 500 miles east of Moscow. Its capital, Kazan has over a million people and is pretty wealthy. So you would think this would be a good place to start an airline. It very well may be, but so far it doesn’t appear to be a place where people want to start a safe airline. The government started looking into airlines in Tatarstan after another airline’s aircraft crashed. Inspections at Tulpar revealed problems with “violations of established norms for flight hours, failure to observe the duty and rest schedules of flight crew members, and maintenance issues.” As you can imagine, that was enough to shut the airline down.

Tatarstan Airlines Shut Down
Tatarstan Airlines – December 31, 2013
Remember what I said about another airline’s plane crashing above? Yeah, it was this airline’s plane. Tatarstan Airlines lost a 737 in November, and inspections that followed revealed issues with “violations in established flight norms, working hours and rest periods for the flight crew and qualification standards of the crew.” As with Tulpar, you’d think that would be enough to shut it down, and you’d be right… sort of. The airline was told it wouldn’t lose its license until December 31. So, you still have a full day to fly on this unsafe airline, just in case you’re a gambler.

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39 comments on “Airlines We Lost in 2013

    1. David – Hmm, good question on Pet. I kind of wrote them off years ago but I don’t believe I ever gave them a tombstone. 2012? 2013? Not sure, but they’re clearly gone now.

    1. David – Ooooh, you’re right. I knew that Aerosvit had nearly failed but I thought they had kept a couple flights. It looks like that plan fell through as well so they are indeed toast.

      As for Hop, I guess I could count that too.

  1. Also
    Air Italy – merged into Meridiana
    Air Asia Japan – died after a row between Malaysia’s Air Asia and ANA
    Lauda Air – could be deemed to have died in 2012 rather than 2013. Famous for being founded by a racing car driver
    TACA – used to be the dominant brand for flying within Central America – now merged into Avianca

    1. David – Air Italy is a weird one to me. The I9 code is still flying around so I wasn’t quite sure how to categorize it. Usually I count mergers when the code disappears.

      Air Asia Japan – Yes, good one. Reincarnated as Vanilla.

      Lauda Air – I didn’t realize Lauda was still around this long since Niki moved on to another project years ago. Too bad – that would have been a good one to memorialize.

      TACA – As with Air Italy, the TA code is still flying so I’m guessing that’s one for 2014.

      1. I have a TACA flight in Aug that I booked through United. The code has changed to an AV flight, but my United itinerary says “operated by TACA”.

  2. ALso worth noting that Flynonstop was set up by a family who had made their fortune in ice cream. Alas the 2 businesses are somewhat different…

  3. While some airlines are doomed from day one, it is sad when you see airlines cease operation after so long in business like Ryan International (41 years) and OLT Express (55 years). Even if you never flew them, you just have to think how bad that is. It’s like when local businesses in your area close after being in business for eons it seems. Even today I’d rather shop at the Woolworth’s of my youth, then the Walmart of today.

  4. I flew Armavia once or twice… U8 was an interesting little operation. Sad to see them go, but practically all their former routes (the vital ones, anyway) are well served by a slew of European airlines.

  5. not bad I only heard of Kingfisher out of all of them, did Southwest buy the vacant routes slots????

  6. I have a nephew who lives in Kristiansand. He had great hopes for the flynonstop since he goes home to see family in England regularly.

  7. Poor Kingfisher – an airline with a fine concept, but beset by mismanagement, and a founder who was ignorant of and/or oblivious to the fact that the market he was serving wouldn’t support the premium price necessary to support the premium product (the financial crisis of 08-09, which really hit India hard, didn’t help matters). Which is too bad, because IT provided a great hard and soft product, better than anything else in the Indian domestic market, in my opinion.

    1. I was just going to ask if Ryan International ever flew charters for Suntrips or Pleasant Hawaiian… because I have some terrible memories of charter trips to the islands. Rich International… SkyService USA (operated by Ryan International) … a bad way to start a trip to Paradise.

        1. Leisure Air was bad; the legroom was so tight that even as a kid, my knees almost touched the seat in front of me.

          I flew Onmi Air on a SunTrips charter to Hawaii once too. They used SkyserviceUSA boarding passes.

      1. I too was going to ask about Evergreen. They did not have Part 121 pax service, but probably had some charter pax and/or wet leases. RIP.

    1. Evergreen’s website still claims it’s operating despite “market rumors” that they have ceased operations, although the oregonlive article does have a more recent date than the Evergreen press release.

      I remember flying Evergreen in the mid-90’s when they had the scheduled weekly military rotator from Yokota Air Base in Tokyo to LAX and STL. What was interesting was the mix of defunct airlines’ onboard equipment–The seat belt buckles still bore the Pan Am logo, the inflight carts and boxes were branded Eastern, the earphones (the old airtube ones) were branded Braniff. The only branding as Evergreen was on the side of the airplane. However among the various providers, Evergreen was one of the better ones.

  8. The JAT Airways brand is dead. It’s been completely rebranded to Air Serbia. While not technically dead, it’s is a departure of a relatively large regional airline from the 70s and 80s.

    1. ogi – Ah yes, JAT relaunched as Air Serbia flush with Etihad’s backing. Good point. And JAT as a brand has been around for a very long time.

  9. Back in the days when AirTran (long before the Southwest merger) was flying only Boeing 717s with a limited range from Atlanta, they used Ryan International’s 737s for a couple of years to inaugurate some of their longer routes (such as LAX, SFO, etc.) before their own brand-new 737s arrived from Renton. I never heard anything good about them though.
    I am also surprised you didn’t mention Lauda Air. They also hold the notorious distinction of being the first airline to have lost a Boeing 767 with fatalities, in a 1991 crash caused by the unintended deployment of a thrust reverser at cruise.

  10. You may want to add 1 more from the Middle East / Asia region:
    RAK Airways, which died it’s 2nd death today:

    RAK Airways suspends operations indefinitely

    RAK Airways flew to Doha, Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore, Jeddah, Riyadh, Calicut and Kathmandu

    By Staff

    Published Tuesday, December 31, 2013

    UAE’s RAK Airways has announced the suspension of all operations starting January 1, 2014, and until further notice.

    In a written statement today [Tuesday], the airline said: “The decision for suspending operations was taken following increased pressures on the carrier’s performance due to continuous market conditions, increased operating costs and the impact of the regional political instability on the overall aviation industry.”

    ‘‘The board of directors took the decision today to suspend the operations until further notice. We believe this decision is in the best interest of the airline and its shareholders. We will take this time to re-evaluate the best options available for RAK Airways future as well as those that fit the industry requirements of the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.”

    RAK Airways current network included flights from RAK International Airport to Doha, Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore, Jeddah, Riyadh, Calicut and Kathmandu.

    RAK Airways regrets the inconvenience caused to its customers as a result of this decision. All passengers who have made bookings with RAK Airways will be re-booked on alternative airline or receive full refund for any payments made.

  11. I remember seeing super cheap fares from Miami to Curacao in April on Dutch Antilles Express. We’re talking $150/round trip including taxes. Guess they were desperate to show growth in passenger volume.

    Many of these smaller airlines are screwed by not being in sites like kayak or ITA’s system.

  12. Good list. But it has some gaps. Aerosvit went down together with its partner Donbassaero (while their other two partners – Dnepravia and Windrose – are still flying).

    Kuban Airlines finally lost its certificate in 2013 after being a regular airline for a couple of decades, then charter, then low-cost aspiration for a brief period. Mordovia Airlines in Russia as well lost its certificate, though their planes are leased to other regional carriers.

    In the rest of the world your list misses Batavia Air from Indonesia.

    But thanks for compiling such lists. They inspire me as well in my AviaSaturday rubric. I even put up a picture with lost airlines logos here –

  13. I flew Chatham’s in 2007! And you’re not lying about Tonga’s failed airlines. When I booked my trip I had two airlines to choose from to get around Tonga. I chose Chatham’s based on the recommendation of a dive operator in Ha’apai. Well we get to Tonga and it turns out the other airline had folded just the week before! Lots of people on our Air New Zealand plane were scrambling to get a flight out of Nukualofa as a result of that. So now Chatham’s has bit the dust. I’m not surprised.

  14. There is also Air Sweden, aka Fly Swedish. They didn’t even last the year, starting in March and closing in Augsust.

    A Swedish friend of mine was on their inaugural flight from Karlstad to London. We thought something was up when, a few days later, the airline changed the time of his return flight from the afternoon to very early in the morning. As we couldn’t get to the airport in time, he had to book another flight with another carrier. He later made a claim for compensation but the airline went bust so he got nothing.

  15. Please note Brindabella Airlines was lost in December 2013. This was a vital regional air service that for 20 years flew to East Coast destinations of Australia. Qantas has since picked up some of the slack to some of these destinations in the interim.

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