MIAMI — With 2017 behind our backs, and a fresh new year ahead of us, it is time we take a look at the carriers we lost in 2017.
Harsh economic conditions, poor business planning, and missed markets have all brought down airlines over the years, and 2017 was no exception.
Some carriers went bust in the past 12 months, some in more dramatic fashions than others. Let’s take a look at those carriers that won’t be soaring the skies in 2018 and beyond.
After a 37-year run serving the Hawaiian Islands, Island Air took its last breath of fresh, tropical air on November 10, after filing for bankruptcy the previous month.
Having served Honolulu, Lihue, Kahului, and Kona with a fleet of turboprop aircraft (including Bombardier Q400s, ATR-42/-72s, and Saab 340s) at the time of its demise, Island Air maintained a codeshare agreement with United (and previously operated with Hawaiian Airlines up until 2012).
Its bankruptcy was brought about by years of net losses, finally occurring with the inability to pay back leases from Wells Fargo and Elix 8.
After a brief run (having commenced flights in May of 2015), Eastern Airlines found itself in the cemetery of aviation history.
Eastern flew charter flights out of Miami to Cuba, as well as other assorted charter operations, with further Central and South American destinations.
Swift Air acquired Eastern in 2017, with its last flight and the surrender of its certificate in September.
A regional airline based out of Geneva and Lugano, Switzerland, Darwin operated throughout Western Europe.
Darwin (Etihad Regional) was owned in part by Etihad Airways and operated in codeshare with Adria and Alitalia throughout its 14-year history. Darwin had a fleet of ATR-72s and Saab 2000s.
Its license was suspended in November as a result of its financial struggles, and finally, on December 12, Darwin met its fate and ceased operations.
This Austrian LCC operated throughout Europe and North Africa from several Austrian and German airports, serving as a leisure airline throughout the region.
Lasting 14 years, Niki operated a complement of A320 Family and 737 Family aircraft.
When Air Berlin filed for Bankruptcy (see below), Lufthansa purchased some of its assets, including Niki, which was scheduled to be absorbed into Eurowings.
However, after Lufthansa removed itself from this deal when it was learned that the merger would not be approved, Niki had no choice but to file bankruptcy, ceasing operations on December 14.
No other airline managed to go out in such a significant and impactful way this year. British charter airline/LCC, Monarch began operating commercial flights in 1968. However, in 2016, talks of bankruptcy became prominent.
In 2017, these rumors were fulfilled: on October 2, Monarch immediately ceased all operations, leaving 110,000 people stranded.
The dramatic demise of Monarch resulted in not only the largest airline to stop trading in the UK but also went down in history as the UK’s most significant peacetime repatriation in history.
Finally, the elephant in the room was Germany’s Air Berlin.
After a 39-year run, Air Berlin had been posting struggling income numbers for years. It operated throughout Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Asia, building a massive international long-haul presence, while also developing dozens of codeshare agreements with major airlines, including American Airlines, British Airways, Etihad, Japan Airlines, Swiss, and Virgin Australia.
While the closure of Air Berlin was undoubtedly shocking due to its massive size, more impressive was the headlines some adventurous pilots made afterward.
On Air Berlin’s last long-haul flight, their pilots brought one of their Airbus A330s through a dramatic unscheduled go-around at Dusseldorf, passing over the terminal at 100ft.
While it is believed that the pilots obtained permission from controllers before the incident, the German aviation authority investigated the event, and both pilots were suspended.
What to expect in 2018?
These were the major airlines we lost in 2017. What will this new year bring to the table?
Despite those we lost in 2017, the aviation world continued to grow larger, making the world smaller and reachable.
Here’s to a great 2018 from Airways.