36 start-up airlines line up for take-off. Part 2: LatAm, AsiaPac


While most of the airline industry is working out how to survive the next two years, burdened by massive debt and confronting an uncertain world still deeply challenged by COVID, would-be airlines are queuing up to enter one of the least profitable industries in commercial history. After 42 startups in the last 18 months, there are at least 36 still to come. Why?

Perhaps startup conditions are more fertile than ever before. The barriers to market entry have always been relatively low; today, much more so. Survival conditions might be another matter though.

Speaking to CAPA Live on 12-May-2021, Air Lease Corporation's executive chairman Steven Udvar-Házy identified the raw ingredients for making a new airline as: "cheap money, capital, cheap aircraft, and pilots".

"Today we have relatively easy access to capital. There's venture money that's available", said the 50-year aviation industry veteran, adding, "There's good young used aircraft at reasonable prices, and there's plenty of pilots and flight attendants that are looking for work. That's a temptation to start a new airline."

Mr Udvar-Házy might have added there are also lots of lessors keen to place surplus existing orders somewhere. According to CAPA's databases, 42 start-up airlines launched operations between Jan-2020 and 12-Jun-2021.

At least 36 more are actively planning to launch within a timeframe of 12 to 24 months, of which 13 are based in Europe, eight in Latin America, eight in Asia Pacific, four in Africa, and three in North America.

This is Part 2 of the three part CAPA report looking at these 36 start-up airlines.

  • Despite the challenges faced by the airline industry due to COVID-19, there are still 36 start-up airlines planning to launch within the next 12 to 24 months.
  • The availability of cheap money, capital, cheap aircraft, and pilots has made it tempting for entrepreneurs to start new airlines.
  • The start-up airline trend is global, with 13 planned start-ups in Europe, eight in Latin America, eight in Asia Pacific, four in Africa, and three in North America.
  • The success of these start-ups is uncertain, with industry experts questioning how many will survive in the long run.
  • Factors such as the competitive landscape, management team, route structure, aircraft suitability, growth potential, and capital structure are crucial for the success of a start-up airline.
  • The article provides a list of planned start-ups in Latin America, Asia Pacific, Africa, and North America, along with their business models and launch dates.


  • There are 36 global start-ups yet to launch, in addition to 42 new airlines that became active between Jan-2020 and 12-Jun-2021.
  • Of those, 13 are based in Europe, eight in Latin America, eight in Asia Pacific, four in Africa and three in North America.
  • "The jury's still out" on whether all these start-ups will succeed, according to Air Lease Corporation's Steven Udvar-Házy.
  • This, Part 2 of a three part series, looks at the Latin American and Asia Pacific wannabes.

For Part 1 of this report, please see Part 1: Europe

July edition of CAPA Live, entitled "Surviving a pandemic: LCCs and Full Service Business Models", is on 14-Jul-2021.
Tune in to watch several of the CEOs of new airline startups, along with many other leading voices

Latin America: eight planned start-ups

ITA Transportes Aéreos (Itapemirim Airlines)

ITA Transportes Aéreos, previously Itapemirim Linhas Aéreas, is a proposed Brazilian full service carrier to be based at São Paulo Guarulhos. It received its first A320 aircraft on 20-Feb-2021 and its second on 09-May-2021, and an AOC on 30-Apr-2021.

ITA Transportes Aéreos plans to launch its first service on 29-Jun-2021, serving eight domestic destinations in its first phase of operations, then launching six more from 1-Aug-2021. It plans to have 20 aircraft by the end of 2021 and to expand to 50 aircraft by Jun-2022.

Ecuatoriana Airlines

Ecuatoriana Airlines is a proposed Ecuadorian airline to be based at Quito Mariscal Sucre International Airport, handling commercial passenger, mail and cargo air transport services. It plans to operate services to Cuenca, Loja, Tulcán, Esmeraldas, Salinas, Guayaquil, Santa Rosa, Lago Agrio, Coca, Macas, and Manta.

In Apr-2021, Ecuatoriana Airlines announced it plans to acquire Boeing 717-200s for its "second phase of operations".

Ecuatoriana Airlines also announced that it aims to launch its first service by Oct-2021, subject to receiving its AOC. Its first service will be Quito-Guayaquil, operated with de Havilland Canada Dash 8 Q400 equipment.


FLY-CD is a self-proclaimed "new holiday airline" to be based at Bonaire Flamingo International Airport on the Caribbean island of Bonaire.

It plans to operate services from cities in Brazil and Argentina, such as São Paulo, Brasília, Córdoba and Buenos Aires to destinations such as Punta Cana, Varadero and Aruba in the Caribbean, and Cancún in Mexico via Bonaire.

FLY-CD plans to sell the majority of seats as B2B allotments via holiday packages. Its fleet consists of two A320 family aircraft.

It originally planned to begin operations in 2020, but its website says that this has been postponed to 3Q2022 due to COVID-19.


Flycana is a proposed Dominican carrier to be based in Santo Domingo Las Americas International Airport, serving destinations in the Caribbean and the Americas.

It aims to be the first ultra-LCC in the Dominican Republic. Flycana has an initial investment of USD60 million and a fleet of five A320s, formerly operated by Dominican Wings.

By 2023 it expects to fly to 50 destinations, with more than 25 aircraft, transporting 6.5 million passengers per year. It had originally planned to launch commercial operations in late 2020, but this has been delayed.


Transportes Peruanos Globales SA, trading as Aeroperu, is a proposed subsidiary of Peruvian Airlines to be based at Lima Jorge Chavez airport.

In Jul-2018 Peruvian Airlines signed an LoI for the purchase of 10 Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) aircraft for the new subsidiary. It was expected to begin service operations in 2020, but a revised launch date has not been advised.

AVA Airways

Originally planned as long ago as 2015 in Curaçao, AVA Airways is a Dominican Republic full service airline to be based in Santo Domingo. It plans to serve destinations in the Caribbean, North America, and South America.

AVA Airways had planned to launch in Mar-2020, but this was postponed to Dec-2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The revised launch date is now reportedly planned for 2Q2022 or 3Q2022.

NELLA Airlines

NELLA Airlines is a proposed Brazilian regional airline to be based at Brasília International Airport.

It will focus on connecting remote cities, and plans to operate ATR 42 turboprops. It is also thought to be considering the Boeing 737-500, but Airbus A320 leases are now reported to have been agreed.

A cargo division is also planned, potentially operating 737-400F aircraft.

Ultra Air

Ultra Air is a proposed Colombian low cost carrier to be based in Medellín. It plans to operate domestic routes and international routes to Mexico City, Cancún, Miami, Santo Domingo, Quito, Guayaquil, Lima, Curaçao, Aruba, New York and Punta Cana.

In Dec-2020 Ultra Air announced plans to begin operations in summer 2021 with a service to San Andrés. It reportedly is planning a network of 29 domestic and 15 international routes, and is aiming for a 10% market share in its first year.

In May-2021 Ultra Air CEO William Shaw reported that the start-up LCC had finalised a lease agreement with Airbus to acquire 40 A320 aircraft within the next five years, including A320neo and A320ceo aircraft.

Mr Shaw has said that Ultra Air aims to take advantage of Avianca's restructuring and capacity reduction. Ultra Air will operate an LCC business model, aiming to cut fares in Colombia by 20%, but will distribute through the GDS and is open to codesharing.

Ultra Air raised USD10 million in a first round of capital raising in May-2021, and aims to begin operations by the end of 2021.

Asia Pacific: eight planned start-ups

SKS Airways

Founded in Nov-2017, SKS Airways is a proposed Malaysian charter airline to be based in Senai International Airport, Johor Bahru. A part of the SKS Group, it plans domestic leisure, commuter and charter services using turboprop aircraft.

It received a Conditional Air Services License (ASL) in Mar-2019 and originally planned to begin operations in 1Q2020, but this has been delayed and postponed more than once.

SKS Airways took delivery of one De Havilland of Canada DHC-6-300 on 19-Dec-2020, expanding its fleet to two aircraft. A revised launch date has not been advised.

Thai Summer Airways

Established in 2018, Thai Summer Airways is a proposed Thai LCC with headquarters in Bangkok, but based at U-Tapao-Rayong-Pattaya International Airport, which increasingly acts as Bangkok's third airport. The airline is planning international services to destinations in China, South Korea, Japan, India and Sri Lanka.

Trading as Summer Airways, it will deploy Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Thai Summer Airways secured its AOC and took delivery of its first aircraft in Sep-2020 but has not yet launched operations, and a revised launch date has not been specified.

Yuva JetLines Airways

Planned at least since 2017, Yuva JetLines Airways is a proposed Indian scheduled airline to be based at Ranchi Birsa Munda Airport in the east India state of Jharkhand.

According to its LinkedIn account, it styles itself as a premium low cost carrier and plans to connect tier 2 and tier 3 cities to metropolitan centres. According to other social media reports, it plans to operate Embraer ERJ 145 aircraft

Its launch, originally planned in 2017 with services from Ranchi to Chennai via Tirupati or Shidiri, has repeatedly been pushed back. In 2020 its website said that it would operate from Ranchi to Kolkata, Guwahati, Imphal and Agartala.

In Jun-2021, Yuva Jet's website says that it plans to launch in late 2021.

Air Premia

Founded in Jul-2017 by former JEJU air president Kim Jong Chul, Air Premia is a proposed South Korean hybrid airline to be based at Seoul's Incheon International Airport. It will operate widebody aircraft on medium and long haul services to destinations in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

It took delivery of its first Boeing 787-9 from Air Lease Corporation at the end of Mar-2021. It expects two more by the end of 2021, and is planning to operate ten Boeing 787-9s within five years, with economy and premium economy cabins.

Its website says that its economy fare will be 80% of Korean full service carrier prices, while its premium economy fare will be 140% of full service economy prices.

Air Premia had planned to launch by Sep-2020, but is now seeking approval to launch with a service from Seoul Gimpo to Jeju in Jul-2021. It aims to start Seoul Incheon-Los Angeles service in early 2022.

Greater Bay Airlines

Greater Bay Airlines is a proposed low cost carrier to be based in Hong Kong. It applied for an AOC in Jul-2020 and is looking to launch services in summer 2021. Greater Bay Airlines is backed by Huang Chubiao, who is also the founder of Donghai Airlines.

On 12-Mar-2021 Greater Bay Airlines director Stanley Hui Hon-Chung said the start-up airline hopes to complete all the necessary paperwork by 3Q2021, and for three leased Boeing 737-800 aircraft to begin services before the end of 2021.

In Jun-2021 Greater Bay Airlines CEO Algernon Yau said the airline's licence could be approved in mid Sep-2021, and the start-up could begin scheduled services from mid Oct-2021 to Nov-2021 at the earliest.

Pasifika Air

Pasifika Air (originally named JetRaro) is a proposed start-up airline to be based in Christchurch, New Zealand. It aims to be price-competitive, but not a low cost carrier.

It plans to offer direct flights from Wellington and Christchurch to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, before expanding to other Pacific island nations.

It originally planned to begin operations in July-2020, but postponed this due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been in negotiations to lease two Boeing 737-800s, but entrepreneur Mike Pero suspended plans to launch the airline in Jun-2021.

Mr Pero cited difficulties with finding engineering slots to recommission aircraft, insufficient support from the Cook Islands government, and Air New Zealand's inability to provide maintenance services.

Canh Dieu Airlines (Kite Air)

Canh Dieu Airlines (Kite Air) is a proposed Vietnamese carrier to be based at Chu Lai International Airport.

A division of Thien Minh Aviation, it plans to operate scheduled services using turboprop and narrowbody aircraft. Thien Minh has targeted 30 aircraft by 2024 for the start-up.

Canh Dieu Airlines was expected to begin commercial operations in Jun-2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the licensing of new airlines in Vietnam until the recovery of the aviation industry, expected to be in 2022.

Toki Air

Toki Air is a proposed Japanese LCC jointly established in 2020 by Niigata Chamber of Commerce and Niigata Association of Corporate Executives.

The new airline is expected to operate ATR turboprop aircraft from Niigata on routes such as Sado, Sendai and Sapporo Okadama.

Toki Air operated a test flight from Tokyo Narita Airport to Sado Airport on 24-May-2021. The airline aims to begin operations in early 2022.

Africa: four planned start-ups


FlyWestAf is a proposed Gambian low cost airline to be based at Banjul Yundum International Airport.

It initially plans nine major destinations in West Africa, including Dakar, Bissau, Conakry, Freetown, Abidjan, Monrovia, Praia and Bamako, with a fleet of five DHC-8-400s.

It originally aimed to launch services by May-2021 but this has been delayed, and a revised launch date has not been advised.

Green Africa

Planned since 2016, Green Africa is a Nigerian full service start-up airline to be based at Lagos Murtula Muhammed International Airport.

It has taken delivery of three ATR 72-600 aircraft, including two leased from ACIA Aero Leasing, and plans to deploy up to 15 ATR 72-600s by Dec-2022.

According to the CAPA Fleet Database, Green Africa has 50 unconfirmed orders for Airbus A220-300s and for Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

After delaying its originally intended 2020 launch, the airline then planned to launch routes from Lagos to Abuja, Akure, Enugu, Ilorin, Owerri and Port Harcourt on 24-Jun-2021, before adding two or three more bases in Nigeria over the next 18 months.

Green Africa began ticket sales through its official website on 25-May-2021. However, on 18-Jun-2021 it postponed its launch until Jul-2021, due a delay in receiving its AOC.

Zambia Airways

The original Zambia Airways was established in 1964, but ceased operations in 1995. Zambian Airways replaced Zambia Airways as the national carrier of Zambia, but later suspended services in 2009 citing financial difficulties.

The Zambian Government planned to relaunch Zambia Airways in 2016 as part of a programme to boost tourism, and allocated USD300 million to start-up capital.

Ethiopian Airlines and Zambia's Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) signed an agreement in Aug-2018 to relaunch Zambia Airways, with IDC taking 55% of the equity and Ethiopian Airlines holding 45%.

Zambia Airways received an AOC in Sep-2020, when it said that it was aiming to operate a fleet of 12 aircraft by 2028. However, its planned launch was postponed, and a revised launch date has not been advised.

SkyBird Airlines

SkyBird Airlines is a proposed Egyptian charter airline to be based at Cairo International Airport. It was founded in 2018 by both Saudi and Egyptian partners.

It plans to offer services to Europe from Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada, as well as services to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other regional destinations from Cairo. It had planned to begin service operations in 2019 after it received an AOC from Egypt's Ministry of Transport, but this was delayed.

On 1-Mar-2021 SkyBird Airlines announced that it had signed a contract to acquire one A320 aircraft, marking its first fleet acquisition. However, a revised launch date has not been advised.

North America: three planned start-ups

Connect Airlines

Connect Airlines is a proposed airline brand to be launched in Canada by Waltzing Matilda Aviation, which is a US licensed charter operator of Cessna Citation Bravo aircraft.

Connect Airlines will operate DHC-8-Q400 turboprop aircraft from Toronto City Billy Bishop Airport, Canada, to destinations in the Northeast and Midwest US. It will offer a premium service to business passengers between the US and Canada.

It aims to begin operations in Oct-2021, subject to regulatory approvals.

Avatar Airlines

Planned for at least a decade, Avatar Airlines is a proposed US ultra low cost start-up to be based at Las Vegas McCarran airport, operating Boeing 747 aircraft.

Avatar's roots trace back to the defunct Family Airlines, which was first proposed in the early 1990s.

In Nov-2019 Avatar said that it was expecting to handle more than five million passengers in its first year of operations, with 14 aircraft operating to/from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orlando, Dallas, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Tampa, San Francisco and Phoenix.

It also said that it aimed to market itself to budget travellers in markets where it could achieve close to 100% load factors. It planned a Fly Free Club for members who pay a one-time entry fee, annual membership and taxes for each flight. It also planned to make nearly all areas of its aircraft available for advertising.

Its website says that it is projecting regular fares up to 50% less than the competition, with economy fares starting at USD19, and not exceeding US99, when purchased 30 days or more in advance.

Avatar is planning a high density seat configuration and to lease the 747's cargo space wholesale to freight operators. It aims to transition to the 747-8 after three years.

In Jul-2020 it set out plans to raise USD300 million through a private placement by Oct-2020, later extended to Apr-2021. Media reports posted on Avatar's Facebook account suggest that it only received its first investment towards this total in May-2021, but they do not indicate a revised deadline.

In Oct-2020 it issued a letter of intent to British Airways to purchase 26 Boeing 747-400 aircraft, offering BA a 22% stake in the company. In Nov-2020 it offered to buy Thai Airways' 10 747s and also offered a partnership, including codeshare.

In Oct-2020, Avatar Airlines expected to launch from 2H2021, but its Facebook account currently says that the airline now plans to start flight operations in Apr-2022.

Breeze Airways

Breeze Airways, formerly known as Moxy Airways, is a low cost start-up based in Salt Lake City, Utah, operating point-to-point services between secondary airports.

It is backed by private investors, including David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue, Azul and WestJet. Mr Neeleman is also CEO of Breeze.

It has a firm order for 60 A220-300s, scheduled for delivery from Oct-2021 to 2026. Meanwhile, it has a fleet of 10 leased Embraer E190/195 aircraft and plans to increase this to 13 this summer.

Breeze launched operations on 27-May-2021 with flights between Charleston (South Carolina), Tampa (Florida) and Hartford Bradley (Connecticut).

According to OAG, Breeze is also serving Akron-Canton (Ohio), Fayetteville Northwest Arkansas, Louisville Muhammed Ali (Kentucky), Norfolk International (Virginia), and Tulsa International (Oklahoma), as of the week commencing 21-Jun-2021.

Breeze's website indicates an increase from eight to 16 destinations, focusing on the south and east of the US and routes with no current nonstop service.

"The jury's still out" on whether all these start-ups will succeed

At the CAPA Live event in May-2021, Air Lease Corporation's Mr Udvar-Házy questioned how many of the new airlines would remain. He recalled that US aviation deregulation in 1978 led to 120 new start-up airlines - of which perhaps two or three are left.

"Now, maybe things won't be that bad", he said, "but there's a great temptation now to start a new airline, with a young workforce that's not unionised, at a much lower labour cost, and relatively young used aircraft like A320s, 737-800s, in some cases Embraers or A220s".

Mr Udvar-Házy noted the factors that Air Lease Corporation (ALC) looks at before supporting a start-up with leased aircraft.

These factors include the competitive landscape, and whether competitors can simply allocate a certain percentage of their seat capacity to match their fares and other perks, such as frequent flyer miles.

ALC also looks at the new airline's management team, the economics of the route structure, the suitability of the selected aircraft types, the growth potential and capital structure.

Will all of the current batch of airline start-ups succeed?

"The jury's still out," according to Mr Udvar-Házy.

Appendix: Airlines that launched operations in 2020 and 2021 (for the full list of planned startups, please see Part 1)

Airlines that launched operations in 2020 and 2021 (up to 12-Jun-2021)



Business Model

Main Hub



1. M Jets International (Kargo Xpress)



Kuala Lumpur


South East Asia

2. Air Montenegro


Full service carrier

Podgorica Golubovci


Eastern/Central Europe

3. ETF Airways





Eastern/Central Europe

4. Avelo Airlines


Low cost carrier

Hollywood Burbank


North America

5. Andorra Airlines


Full service carrier

La Seu d'Urgell


Western Europe

6. Aero K


Low cost carrier


South Korea

North East Asia

7. Sky Cana


Virtual airline

Santo Domingo Las Am's

Dominican Republic


8. ASL Airlines UK



East Midlands

United Kingdom

Western Europe

9. EGO Airways



Catania Fontanarossa


Western Europe

10. Bees Airline



Kyiv Igor Sikorsky


Eastern/Central Europe






Western Europe

12. HiSky


Low cost carrier



Eastern/Central Europe

13. Berniq Airways


Full service carrier

Benghazi Benina


North Africa

14. United Nigeria



Enugu Akanu Ibiam


Central/Western Africa

15. Vietravel Airlines



Hue Phu Bai


South East Asia

16. Jiangxi Int'l Cargo Airlines



Nanchang Changbei


North East Asia

17. Wizz Air Abu Dhabi


Low cost carrier

Abu Dhabi


Middle East

18. Air Taxi India





South Asia

19. China Northwestern Cargo Int'l



Xian Xianyang


North East Asia

20. OTT Airlines



Shanghai Hongqiao


North East Asia

21. Air Sial


Full service carrier



South Asia

22. flybig





South Asia

23. OWG


Montreal Trudeau


North America

24. Royal Zambian Airlines



Lusaka Kenneth Kaunda


Southern Africa

25. LIFT Airline



Johannesburg Tambo

South Africa

Southern Africa

26. Lone Star Air


Full service carrier

Monrovia Roberts


Central/Western Africa

27. Humo Air


Full service carrier

Tashkent Islam Karimov


Central Asia

28. GullivAir





Eastern/Central Europe

29. Sky Mali



Bamako Senou


Central/Western Africa

30. Lulutai Airlines



Nuku'alofa Fua'Amotu


Southwest Pacific

31. Lauda Europe


Low cost carrier



Western Europe

32. Luebeck Air



Hamburg Luebeck Blankensee


Western Europe

33. AirGotland


Virtual airline



Western Europe

34. flyBAIR


Virtual airline

Bern Belp


Western Europe

35. Animawings



Bucharest Baneasa


Eastern/Central Europe

36. Air Arabia Abu Dhabi


Low cost carrier

Abu Dhabi


Middle East

37. Air Falcon



Lahore Allama Iqbal


South Asia

38. Zipair


Low cost carrier

Tokyo Narita


North East Asia

39. China Central Airlines



Zhengzhou Xinzheng


North East Asia

40. Hi Air


Full service carrier

Seoul Gimpo

South Korea

North East Asia

41. STARLUX Airlines


Full service carrier

Taiwan Taoyuan


North East Asia

42. GS Airlines



Antananarivo Ivato


Southern Africa

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