At a time when the Covid pandemic is still hitting the four corners of the world, new low-cost companies consider the environment favorable enough to get started, in the United States especially with Breeze and Avelo. A phenomenon also observed in Europe, where air carriers are seizing new expansion opportunities such as the Norwegian Norse Atlantic Airways and the Greek Sky Express.
« Now is the right time to create a startup company with much lower costs. If I was 30 years younger, this is what I would do! »Last January in our columns, Marc Rochet, the president of the Dubreuil Aéro group (Air Caraïbes, French bee) surprised his world by putting forward two weighty arguments: aircraft acquisition costs significantly lower than before the crisis ; air personnel – and in particular pilots – available in large numbers on the market. An opinion shared by many entrepreneurs, if we judge by the current proliferation of projects to create airlines. This is particularly the case in the United States, where airline activity has now returned to half of its pre-crisis level.
Thus, two new companies announced the start of their operations this spring. The low-cost Avelo Airlines intends to connect Burbank (California) to around ten American cities in the next few weeks, with a fleet of B737s. Breeze Airways, also a low-cost carrier dedicated to the US domestic market, plans to start operations this May. Based in Salt Lake City, it has today ordered 80 examples of the Airbus A220. Breeze is worn by David Neeleman, who participated in the creation of the Canadian low-cost WestJet, American JetBlue and Brazilian Azul. The Brazilian-American businessman is also known in France for having been a shareholder of Aigle Azur.
In Europe, another revenant is at the initiative of the creation of Norse Atlantic Airways. One of its main investors (15% of the capital) is in fact Bjorn Kjos, the co-founder and ex-CEO of Norwegian Air Shuttle. The new company, based in Oslo, intends to be inspired by the economic model of the former Norwegian Long Haul, with low-cost long-haul flights launched next December, including transatlantic flights from Paris-CDG, London- Gatwick and Oslo. Flights operated by second-hand Boeing 787 Dreamliner recovered cheaply from Norwegian… Which is now back in service only on short-medium haul.
Other European companies have launched since the beginning of the year. The Italian EGO Airways started its activities this March on the Italian domestic market. With its Embraer E190 fleet, it intends to take advantage of Alitalia’s difficulties while focusing on lines connecting so-called secondary airports. Also in Europe, the Greek Sky Express opens this year to international flights, using its new A320neo. Its representative in France, Aviareps, announced the opening in early June of services between Athens and France (Paris, Lyon, Nantes).
Europe and the United States are of course not the only continents where new low-cost companies intend to make their hole. Elsewhere in the world, we could also cite the Middle East with Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, South Africa with Lift or India with FlyBig. With the arrival of these new players, with optimized cost structures, we can already expect localized price wars on the lines where the major airlines operate. Which, weakened, do not intend to let these new entrants prosper without reacting …