- The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on airlines.
- But some see an opportunity to buy discounted aircraft or add new routes.
- More than 90 new airlines plan to debut before the end of 2021.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit airlines hard. Airline revenue collapsed last year, and more than 40 airlines have paused operations or shut down since the beginning of 2020, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing data from Cirium.
Many airlines have responded by laying off workers and cutting flights, but as The Journal reported on Friday, some carriers have sensed an opportunity in the downsizing and cost-cutting of their competitors.
Citing data from Avolon Holdings, which leases aircraft, The Journal reported that over 90 new airlines are set to debut before the end of 2021. Those startups will take off from six continents.
Some of those companies are using higher rates of availability at airports to fill gaps in the offerings of established airlines. Others have been able to purchase assets at a discount.
Andrew Levy, the founder of Avelo Airlines, told The Journal he was able to buy seats at reduced prices because the seats had originally been ordered by another airline that decided not to buy them in 2020. Levy also told The Journal he believed the reduced demand for travel during the pandemic made it easier for his airline to find availability at its hub, Hollywood Burbank Airport. Avelo, which has several destinations in the western US, is selling customers on low fares and service from smaller airports, a combination the airline says will make air travel more convenient and enjoyable.
Bjorn Tore Larsen, CEO of the new Norwegian airline Norse Atlantic Airways, told The Journal he was able to buy aircraft once used by Norwegian Air Shuttle, which went bankrupt in 2020, for “historically low” prices. Norse is focusing on inexpensive international flights and plans to debut in December.
“We will focus only on low cost, long-haul business. And to my knowledge we will be the only company of size that will do so,” Larsen told The Journal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also created opportunities for established airlines. Rex Airlines CEO John Sharp told The Journal that his airline has found new opportunities to add routes in large cities. The company also received a steep discount, over 50%, on Boeing 747s previously used by Virgin Australia and found it easier to secure openings at airports than it would have if the demand for air-travel was at pre-pandemic levels, Sharp said.