6 Up-and-Coming Airlines to Watch

When it comes to the airspace, everything is in constant flux. With fluctuating gas prices, impending technologies, socio-political unrest and strategic and financial players coming and going, change is a constant. From this ever-evolving landscape, a host of new airlines have been bred. Here are six up-and-coming airlines which were established in 2017 or later, ready to make a big splash.

1. Air Italy

We know this isn’t a new airline per se, but it might as well be. Everything changed last year when Qatar Airways bought a 49% stake in the then Meridiana Fly. This year the rebranding to Air Italy went into full swing.

Air Italy's fleet includes eight Boeing 737 NGs and three Boeing 767-300s. It will be progressively renewed with eight new aircraft, including three brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 and five Airbus A330-200 planes this year. Upcoming plans call for those A330-200s to be replaced by Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners next year, with the goal of ramping up to a fleet of 50 aircraft by 2022.

The momentum of Air Italy comes at a very critical time for the Italian airspace. Alitalia, the country’s national carrier, currently suffers from financial issues – going bankrupt in May 2017 – and is faced with an uncertain future.

2. Swoop

One of Canada’s most prominent airlines is getting its feet wet in the low-cost circuit. Westjet’s low-cost arm Swoop made its maiden voyage this year from Hamilton, Ontario to Abbotsford, British Columbia.

The aim is to fill a major need in this North American country. According to transportation analyst Chris Murray, Canada is the only G7 country without a true ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC).

Competition is steep, however, with players such as Flair Airlines and Canada Jetlines. Moreover, low-cost carriers have a sordid history in Canada. Jetsgo, Air Canada's Tango, Canada 3000 and Roots Air have all failed to gain traction.

Swoop’s silver bullet may very well be its president Steven Greenway. He brings with him heaps of experience with stops at Peach, Virgin Blue, Virgin Atlantic and Qantas.

3. Joon

As a subsidiary of Air France, Joon has a unique position as a boutique carrier for millennials. Passengers can partake in organic food and drinks, high-quality alcoholic beverages such as craft beer and cocktails, and a variety of entertainment options such as VR goggles.

Air France doesn’t consider Joon to be a low-cost carrier, but a lifestyle-centric brand focused on design and digital technology. However, the starting price points are quite low and it competes on a number of routes covered by low-cost carriers. Joon also offers a number of upselling levers such as checked baggage and in-flight food and entertainment options.

It’s too soon to accurately gauge the financial performance of this venture. However, it makes for a very interesting business model by blending the classic low-cost approach with a focus on the travel experience.

4. Level

Another new player on the low-cost front is Level. This Barcelona-based subsidiary is under the IAG umbrella, which operates the likes of Iberia, British Airways, Vueling and Aer Lingus. It aims to take on the likes of low-cost transatlantic carriers Norwegian Air and WOW air with flights to North and South America.

Additionally, the low-cost carrier brand has expanded by launching an additional subsidiary based in Vienna, less than three weeks before flights begin. Flights began on July 17 with flights from Vienna to London Gatwick and Palma de Mallorca. The subsidiary will have a 14-route network by the middle of August as it looks to compete with Ryanair and Wizz Air, which operate from the Bratislava airport just 30 miles from Vienna.

The airlines operating for the brand have plans to expand from three A330-200s in 2017 to at least 15 aircraft by 2022, with the possibility of continuing to acquire more Airbus A330s or Boeing 787s.

5. JetSmart

Not to be forgotten is the Latin American market. According to IATA, the region has experienced a 6.4% increase in passenger demand year-on-year. This coincides with a forecasted GDP growth of more than 2%.

One of its newest players is JetSmart. About ten months after the start of its operations in Chile, JetSMART has already reached 1 million passengers. According to Bill Franke, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Indigo Partners, the company that manages JetSMART, the low-cost airline has so far enjoyed great success from its initial operations in Chile. It has its sights set on Argentina and beyond.

As part of Indigo Partners’ historic $49.5 billion order, JetSMART will receive 56 Airbus A320neo and 14 A321neo jetliners in the coming years to fuel its growth.

6. "Moxy Airways"

While this probably won’t see the skies until 2020-2021, we’d be remiss not to include the new venture of JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman. He recently raised $100 million for a new low-cost U.S. airline.

With the unofficial moniker Moxy Airways, the airline aims to use a fleet of lightweight carbon fiber aircraft and secondary North American airports such as Fort Worth, Texas and Burbank, California in an effort to reduce fuel consumption, wait times and other air travel-related costs and hassles.

Moxy recently secured an order for 60 Airbus A220-300s at the Farnborough Airshow. While further details are scarce, this is definitely worth keeping close tabs on, especially for carriers like Southwest.


With these lists there are always noteworthy omissions and differences of opinions, so we’d love to hear yours. What did we get right? Who did we miss?

Joseph Vito DeLuca

Joseph Vito DeLuca

Chief Marketing Officer at Yieldr