A difficult 2022 for aviation but only 19 airlines went down
January 3, 2023294 views0 comments
By Business AM
A rather difficult year 2022 finally came to an end much to the relief of many in the global economy and the world of business. Smarting from two challenging years of dealing with disruptions from Covid-19 and trying to recover from its aftermath, the world was again hit in February by the Russian-Ukrainian war that brought a great deal of distress, again, to global supply chain and stymied commodities trade.
The global aviation industry, severely harmed by Covid-19 restrictions for much of two years, found itself also caught up in the fallouts of the Russia-Ukraine war, which spread far and wide. But notwithstanding how difficult the year was, data put together by ch-aviation and per Simple Flying, show that just 19 airlines officially went out of operations and business in 2022.
Despite plenty of headwinds, 2022 has been one of the lightest years for airlines going out of business. Officially cancelled airlines number just 19 this year, according to official data from ch-aviation. We take a look at the airlines that failed in 2022.
Africa’s airline exits
In Africa, according to Simple Flying, 2022 saw the end of operations for three scheduled carriers, namely, Eswatini Airlink, Med-View Airline in Nigeria and Tchadia Airlines. Eswatini Airlink had two aircraft in its fleet – a Fokker 100 and a Fokker F28. It was the flag carrier of the nation, having been established in 1999 as Swaziland Airlink. In later years, it didn’t have any aircraft of its own, but flights were operated by Airlink using Embraer regional jets. It ceased operations on June 1st, and is set to be replaced by the new Eswatini Air.
Med-View started life as a Hajj specialist in 2004, but began operating domestic scheduled services in 2012. It has struggled financially for many years, reportedly struggling with huge debts since around 2017. Over the years, it flew four 737-400, one 767-300 and a 777-200ER, but by the point that it lost its air operator certificate, in November 2022, and stopped flying entirely, it had just one 737-400 to its name.
According to Simple Flying, Tchadia Airlines was Chad’s only flag carrier, and was placed into liquidation in August 2022 after three years of loss-making operations. Despite being backed by African heavyweight Ethiopian Airlines, it couldn’t survive the financial impacts of the pandemic. It had just two Dash 8 turboprops, and had only been in operation since 2018.
Europe’s out-of-business airlines
In Europe data show that 10 airlines officially ended service in 2022, just two of which were scheduled commercial airlines. These were Norwegian UK and orange2fly.
Norwegian Airlines’ woes began even before COVID. As the pandemic gripped the world, the airline’s crisis grew worse, entering into bankruptcy protection in late 2020. It emerged from the crisis a slimmer and more efficient regional carrier, shelving all plans for international operations and signing the death knell for its UK operation. Norwegian UK was the home of 24 Boeing 787-9s, and officially closed as the airline exited bankruptcy protection in May, 2022.
The other two airlines are Russian carriers. Kamchatka Airlines was a relatively new airline to be based at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky Airport, and planned to operate charter services with turboprops and narrowbody aircraft. However, the sanctions on Russian aviation meant it was impossible to begin services, and it subsequently shut down last year. Royal Flight traces its history back to 1992 when it flew as Abakan-Avia, and had a fleet of 26 aeroplanes, including Ilyushin and Boeing models. It ceased operations in May 2022.
Rounding off the list are Air Halland, a division of Air Leap; Blu Express, a branch of Blue Panorama; the German virtual carrier Green Airlines; UK-based private charter airline, Arean Aviation; and cargo carrier Star Air, which was merged into Maersk Air Cargo.
Asia’s closed-up airlines
In Asia only one airline is listed by ch-aviation as having gone out of business in 2022, which is quite astounding given the drawn-out travel restrictions that have hampered the recovery of airlines in the region. Regent Airways was a Bangladeshi airline founded in 2010 with two Boeing 737-700s. It flew domestically as well as to points in India, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, Qatar, Singapore, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Over its operational lifetime, the airline flew the two 737-700s alongside four 737-800s, one DHC-6-400 and a pair of DHC-8-300s. By the start of 2022, it had just one 737-800 still operational. It had plans to turn the airline around in 2020 after several turbulent years, but with the onset of the pandemic making things very difficult, it officially ended operations this year.
North American’s shutdowns
The ch-aviation data capturing North America show that only five airlines ended their operations in 2022. The most notable of these is ExpressJet Airlines, formerly Continental Express, and a major regional carrier for the States. It flew under the American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express brands. However, one by one, these contracts departed, with its last mainline partner, United Airlines, pulling out in September 2020.
Not willing to give up, ExpressJet restarted commercial operations in 2021 on behalf of its new division aha! Pegged as ‘Air-Hotel-Adventure,’ the idea of this brand was to bundle deals on hotels in Reno with its air fares, connecting West Coast cities on an all-in-one basis. Although it launched to much applause, the carrier could not make it work, and filed for bankruptcy in August (making aha! number two of the North American shutdowns). At its peak, ExpressJet operated more than 400 regional aircraft, including ATRs, CRJs, DHCs and Embraer. At the point of liquidation, it had just five ERJ145 in service.
According to Simple Flying, two other carriers – Tanana Air Service and Shannon’s Air Taxi – merged into Grant Aviation. Tanana had been around since the 1960s, originally flying under the name Harold’s Air Service and later Friendship Air Alaska. Alongside Shannon’s Air Taxi, the two companies were acquired by Grant Aviation in January of 2022, with the company noting that it was good news for regional Alaska.
Rounding out the North American airlines no longer with us, according to the data, is Ross Aviation, a business/private charter carrier based in Albuquerque. Starting life in 1941 as Louisiana Aircraft, it built a business on flying the US government’s nuclear scientists around. It was merged into Atlantic Aviation, which also saw Atlantic gain three new TAC Air fixed base operations at Omaha, Raleigh-Durham and Hartford.
What about the rest of the world?
Amazingly, no airlines in South America or Oceania are listed as having gone out of business this year. That doesn’t mean that more won’t be coming, as there are several notable airlines that have ceased flying in 2022, but haven’t officially ended business.
Comair is perhaps the most well-known of these, along with its subsidiary Kulula. Although it has stopped flying with no realistic hope of rescue, it is yet to officially close – although we can probably expect it on next year’s list. South Africa’s SA Express hasn’t flown since 2020, but awaits its final liquidation and official closure.
In South America, Brazil’s Itapemirim stopped flying after just six months, as the nation’s regulator revoked its flying licence. Interjet, although not having flown since 2020, entered into bankruptcy in August 2022.
In Europe, bankruptcy was declared by Onur Air in April 2022, but remains ‘in business’ in the official sense. EGO Airways in Italy had to return its fleet after conflicts regarding the leasing contract, and had its operating permit suspended in January this year. And Romanian carrier Blue Air has been in significant trouble, but has new hopes of revival as the Romanian government looks set to take a stake.