From Soaring High to Sudden Falls: The Untold Stories of Airlines Vanishing in 2023!

As the year comes to a close, it’s time to pay tribute to the airlines that did not make it to witness the dawn of 2024. Unlike the relatively modest list of the previous year, 2023 saw a rebound in airline failures. Utilizing the comprehensive ch-aviation database, we highlight some of the carriers that faced challenges and ceased operations during the year.

Flybe (United Kingdom) – January 28 Little flybe, a British regional carrier, succumbed to financial troubles in 2020 during the pandemic’s onset. Despite a valiant attempt at revival in 2022, with bases in Birmingham and Belfast, the airline struggled with route inconsistencies and, ultimately, collapsed again on January 28.

Flyr (Norway) – January 31 Flyr’s ambitious plan to replicate the success of Norwegian in leisure destinations from Norway faltered as the airline faced operational challenges. Despite efforts to secure funding, the airline’s financial peril led to its demise on January 31.

Aeromar (México) – February 15 As the oldest airline on this list, Aeromar, with its ATR props, showcased a glimpse of a bygone era in Mexican aviation. Despite its historical significance and slot holdings in Mexico City, the airline’s financial struggles persisted, leading to its closure on February 15.

Viva Air (Colombia/Perú) – February 27 The ambitious plans of Viva Air, aiming to be a prominent low-cost operator in Colombia and Peru, were thwarted by financial challenges. Attempts to save the airline through Avianca proved futile, resulting in its closure on February 27.

Ultra Air (Colombia) – March 30 Launched in 2022 as part of the wave of Colombian low-cost operators, Ultra Air, founded by William Shaw of Viva, folded just over a year later. Despite aspirations to reclaim past glory, the domestic-only airline ceased operations on March 30.

Niceair (Iceland) – April 6 Niceair’s endeavor to attract tourists to the Northern Icelandic city of Akureyri faced execution challenges from the start. Contracting with Hi Fly Malta and facing air treaty issues related to Brexit, the airline’s operational hurdles led to its demise on April 6.

Go First (India) – May 2 Formerly GoAir, Go First’s journey from being the fourth-largest airline in India to its rebranding during the pandemic culminated in financial struggles. The airline’s reliance on A320neos with troubled Pratt & Whitney engines contributed to its closure on May 2.

Air Moldova (Moldova) – May 2 Rising post-Iron Curtain, Air Moldova faced financial troubles and ultimately shut down operations on May 2, marking the end of an era for the airline that emerged from the local Aeroflot operation in the early 1990s.

Fly Gangwon (South Korea) – May 18 A quirky South Korean airline funded by the province of Gangwon, Fly Gangwon struggled to establish a presence beyond flights from Yangyang to Jeju and Clark. Despite attempts to diversify routes, the airline ceased operations on May 18.

Calafia (México) – August 14 Operating from Cabo San Lucas, Calafia had a remarkable 30-year history before retrenching during the pandemic. Facing regulatory issues and financial challenges, the airline, known for buzzing around with ERJ-145s and a Brasilia, closed its doors on August 14.

Red Way (USA) – August 31 A virtual airline funded by COVID funds, Red Way, operating a GlobalX A320, faced financial challenges and ceased operations after just a couple of months. The airline’s closure led to disputes over promised refunds and criticism from the state auditor.

Buta Airways (Azerbaijan) – October 1 A product of the “airline-within-an-airline” trend, Buta Airways, initially AZALJet, merged into Azerbaijan Airlines. The airline, operating E190s, concluded its operations as it merged into Azerbaijan Airlines on October 1.

Novair (Sweden) – October 1 Stockholm-based Novair, known for flying L-1011s from 1997 to 2000, struggled to sustain its charter business with A321neos. The airline, with a limited fleet, faced challenges in securing enough charter business, leading to its closure on October 1.

Swoop (Canada) – October 28 As WestJet phased out its low-cost carrier strategy, Swoop, positioned as a subsidiary within WestJet, faced an inevitable fate. The airline, attempting various strategies, ceased operations on October 28 after the new WestJet pilot contract.

Thai Smile (Thailand) – December 31 Created to fill a perceived gap between low-cost and full-service carriers, Thai Smile faced closure and will be merged back into Thai. The airline’s fate was sealed on December 31, marking the end of the “airline-within-an-airline” era.