20 Airlines That Have Gone Out of Business in the Past Year

May 20, 2019 by Steven M. Peters

Neither the size of an airline or its longevity is a guarantee, nor is its continued operation. An examination of industry failures over the last year makes this clear, though demise of relative startups was far more common than those of established companies.

Some good ideas — such as providing regular flights to underserved populations, offering custom business service, and reducing amenities to create ultra-low ticket prices — did not pan out financially in many cases. In other instances, poor management allowed for costly delays and cancellations — two of the most common air travel complaints every year — that ultimately led to poor customer reviews and bankruptcy.

All of the airlines that ceased operations struggled financially, often due to fuel costs, currency fluctuations, unfilled seats, or just old fashioned competition. There is another commonality among the airlines that collapsed: in most cases the suspension of service was without warning, even when financial difficulties were well known.

With the demise of these airlines, tens of thousands of people were impacted: passengers left stranded, ticket-holders robbed of their travel plans, airline employees suddenly without a livelihood, and creditors left fighting for a share of the remains in bankruptcy court. (These are 11 of the largest bankruptcies of all time.)

Click here to see 20 airlines that have gone out of business in the past year

To compile a list of airlines that have recently gone out of business, 24/7 Tempo reviewed dozens of news articles about the status and ultimate demise of many domestic and international airlines. The following list covers the period since January 2018 until present day.

Source: Terrazzo / Wikimedia Commons

PAWA Dominicana
> Headquarter: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
> Ceased operations: February 2018

PAWA Dominicana was established in 2002 as a subsidiary of Pan American Airlines, with routes throughout the Caribbean. As the first Dominican airline in 20 years to offer commercial flights to the United States, it flew a popular route daily between Santo Domingo and Miami. The airline ceased operations after the Dominican government suspended the company’s Air Operators Certificate (AOC) because of the airline’s serious financial troubles, including millions owed to the Dominican Republic’s largest airport. The sudden suspension left many passengers stranded, requiring the Dominican government to charter other planes for their rescue.

Source: Courtesy of OneJet

> Headquarter: Cambridge, Massachusetts
> Ceased operations: August 2018

Founded in 2015, OneJet operated a “public charter” airline out of Milwaukee and Pittsburgh, flying small jets on regular routes for business travel. Following a failed attempt to purchase another charter business, and after the federal government placed a lien on the company for over $600,000 in unpaid excise taxes, OneJet announced a “temporary” suspension of services in August of 2018. It hasn’t operated since and has become the subject of a bankruptcy proceeding with many creditors, who cumulatively have lost millions of dollars in contracts and investments.

Source: Robert Jones / Wikimedia Commons

Fly Jamaica Airways
> Headquarter: Kingston, Jamaica
> Ceased operations: March 2019

A tiny airline company with the callsign “Greenhart,” Fly Jamaica Airways began operations in 2012 with only one airplane; a second was added two years later. It flew regular routes to New York, Toronto, Guyana, and Cuba. Its demise came after one of its planes, en route to Toronto, crash landed in Guyana. Passengers filed a class-action lawsuit requesting compensation. Lack of aircraft and funding is what company bosses say led to the airline’s end.

Source: Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia / Wikimedia Commons

> Headquarter: Reykjavík, Iceland
> Ceased operations: March 2019

WOW Air was a budget airline established in 2012, offering flights to Europe for as low as $200, but charging travelers for luggage, refreshments, and relative comfort. By 2018, it had over 1,000 employees, 11 planes, and millions of passengers, but it was struggling with finances and consumer complaints. When an attempted merger with its competitor, Icelandair, fell apart, as did other efforts to attract investors, WOW declared bankruptcy.

Source: Hawaiian717 / Wikimedia Commons

California Pacific Airlines
> Headquarter: Carlsbad, California
> Ceased operations: January 2019

Ninety-seven year old entrepreneur Ted Vallas made good on a longstanding promise to start an airline connecting northern San Diego to the Silicon valley last year. When, on Nov. 1, 2018, his first passengers made that flight on California Pacific Airlines, Vallas’s dream had come true. The flights ceased to operate after only a few weeks, ostensibly because of a nationwide pilot shortage, and on Jan. 18, the company furloughed its 90 employees “with no return to work date.” In its short existence, the airline was plagued with cancellations, delays, and negative customer reviews, casting doubt on its owner’s vow that it will rise again.

Source: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt / Wikimedia Commons

Insel Air
> Headquarter: Willemstad, Curaçao
> Ceased operations: February 2019

Insel Air was launched in 2006, flying passengers to Aruba and other Caribbean Islands.The company grew, adding to its fleet and list of destinations in the Caribbean, the U.S., and South America, becoming the principal airline of the Dutch Caribbean. Its business in Venezuela, its largest international market, became problematic when the airline was unable to recover millions of dollars of its funds needed to upgrade its operations. Suffering from groundings, safety concerns, and poor customer reviews, a court declared the company bankrupt in February after the Curaçao aviation authority revoked the airline’s operational certificate.

Source: Courtesy of Aerolíneas de Antioquia

Aerolíneas de Antioquia
> Headquarter: Medellin, Colombia
> Ceased operations: March 2019

After 32 years of operation, Aerolíneas de Antioquia (ADA) suspended all operations in March, citing unmanageable operating costs and dwindling traffic. ADA provided regional passenger and cargo services to around 20 destinations in Colombia. Like most of the airlines that collapsed this past year, ADA suffered from poor customer reviews and a reputation for cancellations.

Source: Courtesy of Air Philip

Air Philip
> Headquarter: Seoul, South Korea
> Ceased operations: March 2019

Air Philip was a South Korean airline that began its operations in June of 2018, flying only between Seoul and Gwangju, with plans to expand service internationally and to boost tourism in Korea’s southwestern province of Jeolla. It began scheduled flights to Russia and Japan in December but suspended all service only three months later, citing financial difficulties.

Source: Hamish Blair / Getty Images

Jet Airways
> Headquarter: Mumbai, India
> Ceased operations: April 2019

After 25 years of flying domestic and international routes from Mumbai, Jet Airways made its last flight in April, when last ditch efforts to obtain emergency funding failed, following months of negotiations with lenders. Though highly reliable, with good ratings from consumers, Jet Airways attributed its financial struggles to high oil prices, depreciation of the rupee, and market saturation. The airline, which had been India’s second largest, continues to seek investors, hoping to fly again.

Source: hisgett / Flickr

> Headquarter: Castle Donington, UK
> Ceased operations: February 2019

Using 17 small jet aircraft, Flybmi flew between regional airports in Britain and had routes to 25 cities throughout Europe. The airline sought to attract business travelers, but found low demand for its service, flying often with half-filled airplanes. Hundreds of passengers were left stranded, and nearly 400 people lost their jobs when the airline suddenly suspended service in February. The company blamed its failure on high costs, a competitive market, and the uncertainties posed by Brexit.

Source: Javier Bravo Muñoz / Wikimedia Commons

> Headquarter: Berlin, Germany
> Ceased operations: 2019

Declaring insolvency in February, this Berlin-based budget airline grounded its fleet after 41 years of operation. It had flown routes throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, carrying 4 million passengers a year. The airline blamed high fuel costs and currency fluctuations for its financial straits. Germany’s air industry suffered another serious blow only two years ago, when its second largest airline, Air Berlin, went out of business after years of losses.

Source: Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia / Wikimedia Commons

Primera Air
> Headquarter: Copenhagen, Denmark
> Ceased operations: October 2018

Primera Air was a Danish airline that took over the operations of JetX in 2008 and operated out of Iceland under the names Primera Air, Primera Scandinavia, and Primera Air Nordic, a Latvian subsidiary. It declared bankruptcy on Oct. 2 of last year, just weeks after announcing new routes and tickets at astoundingly low prices. In an email sent on the eve of the bankruptcy last October, an owner thanked the airline’s employees, blaming the collapse on delayed deliveries of new aircraft and associated costs. Thousands of passengers, including Primera employees, were stranded throughout Europe after the sudden announcement.

Source: shebalso / Flickr

> Headquarter: Brisbane, Australia
> Ceased operations: July 2018

A regional charter airline that also took on “special missions” and sometimes leased out its aircraft, JETGO flew four small jets out of Brisbane airport in Queensland, Australia. It began flying in 2011, receiving good ratings from its passengers and meeting a need for transport to remote locations. But, in the end, it was forced into bankruptcy, owing at least $17 million to its creditors.

Source: Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia / Wikimedia Commons

Tajik Air
> Headquarter: Dushanbe, Tajikistan
> Ceased operations: January 2019

With predecessors dating back to 1930, when it was part of the Soviet “Aeroflot,” the airline ultimately became Tajikistan’s national airline; Tajik Airways was reorganized for by government resolution in 2009. At its modern peak, it had 500 employees and flew international routes to a number of Asian destinations, including Iran, India, China, Turkey, and several Russian cities. Its gradual demise resulted from debt and competition from Somon Air. Somon Air flies regular routes to Moscow and is the official carrier of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan.

Source: John Coates / Wikimedia Commons

Asian Express Airline
> Headquarter: Dushanbe, Tajikistan
> Ceased operations: January 2019

Asian Express Airline began negotiations in 2007 for the purchase of several aircraft, and was finally granted its AOG by Tajikistan’s Ministry of Transport in June of 2013. It also was involved in an expanding bus transport business. The airline made regular flights to Russia before suspending operations in January.

Source: osdphoto / Flickr

> Headquarter: Sollentuna, Sweden
> Ceased operations: May 2018

Providing only economy class service, NextJet was founded in 2002 to offer regional flights within Sweden and its neighbors, Finland and Norway. Sweden’s Transport Agency revoked its regular license because of its financial straits. The now-defunct airline had provided a service to northern regions of Scandinavia and had received generous subsidies from local governments to help support its operations, but it usually flew with half its seats filled.

Source: Anna Zvereva / Wikimedia Commons

Dart Airlines
> Headquarter: Kiev, Ukraine
> Ceased operations: April 2018

Dart began operations in 1997, flying regular routes and charter flights from Ukraine to Greece, Albania, Montenegro, and Georgia. It was forced by the Ukraine government to suspend services in April 2018 pending an investigation into the airline’s alleged sale or lease of airplanes to Iran and Syria in violation of U.S. sanctions. In September of 2017, the U.S. had imposed its own economic sanctions against Dart for providing service, crews, and aircraft to Iranian and Iraqi airlines.

Source: ajw1970 / Flickr

VLM Airlines
> Headquarter: Antwerp, Belgium
> Ceased operations: August 2018

VLM was famous for its Antwerp-London City route — the London City airport being a central and convenient location — which it began in 1993. The Belgian airline flew out of Antwerp not just to London but several other European cities, too. By the end of its run only the London route was profitable.

Source: Gerard van der Schaaf / Wikimedia Commons

Cobalt Air
> Headquarter: Cyprus
> Ceased operations: October, 2018

An award-winning startup, Cobalt Air emerged in 2016 to fill the gap left when government-owned airline Cyprus Airways ended service in 2015. Last October, Cobalt announced the suspension of all of its flights after just two years of operation, during which time it reigned as Cyprus’s largest airline, with 200 staff, six aircraft, and 23 destinations. Its collapse was blamed on overcapacity and tight margins within its market.

Source: aero_icarus / Flickr

SkyWork Airlines
> Headquarter: Belp, Switzerland
> Ceased operations: August 2018

Founded in 1983 as a flight school, SkyWork Airlines flew economy class routes throughout Europe beginning in 2009, receiving high ratings from its passengers for its service. Burdened with unmanageable debt, suspension of its license, and its failure to attract new investors, SkyWork declared bankruptcy last August, affecting 11,000 ticket holders and 100 employees.

Source: Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland / Wikimedia Commons

> Headquarter: Geneva, Switzerland
> Ceased operations: December 2018

With roots in predecessor airlines going back to 1977, PrivatAir, a business charter airline, built its brand around “distinctive tailor-made service.” Shortly before its collapse, its financial troubles were deepened when Lufthansa ended a lease arrangement for the use of PrivatAir planes. At the time it declared itself insolvent last December, PrivatAir had 226 employees in Germany, Portugal, and Switzerland, and an additional 65 contractual staff in the Middle East.

Source: riikkeary / Flickr

Small Planet Airlines
> Headquarter: Vilnius, Lithuania
> Ceased operations: November 2018

Lithuanian-based Small Planet Airlines was a leisure and charter carrier that contracted with tour operators in Europe. It filed for bankruptcy in October of last year, with a plan to reorganize, blaming its financial distress on the losses accumulated by its German and Polish subsidiaries, both of which had previously declared insolvency. Small Planet planes stopped flying when the government of Lithuania suspended its license in November.

Source: Aktug Ates / Wikimedia Commons

Saratov Airlines
> Headquarter: Saratov, Russia
> Ceased operations: May 2018

Originally flying planes for agricultural operations, and in modern times flying regional routes throughout Russian, Saratov Airlines had been operating for 86 years before one of its planes crashed outside of Moscow in February of 2018, killing all 71 people on board. The Russian transportation authority ordered the airline to shut down operations in May, citing violations found in the inspections that followed the crash.