Considering the chaos that’s accompanied this summer’s travel season, it would be easy to think it’s the worst time possible to launch a new airline. But from Scandinavia to Alaska, far-sighted aviation entrepreneurs are setting up new carriers to destinations very far and very wide.
Some of the newcomers – such as Salt Lake City-based Breeze Airways – have been developed by industry legends.
Others, like Anchorage, Alaska-based Pacific Northwest Airways, are testing entirely new bases, routes and consumers.
What all of the new airlines have in common, however, is the canny ability to spot untapped markets. With most of the new arrivals touching down in the Tri-State area, there has never been a better time to travel far and wide.
Here are five of the newest – and most notable – must-fly airlines to know now.
Norse Atlantic Airways fills the void left by the beloved low-cost carrier Norwegian Airlines, which shut down its transatlantic route in early 2021 during the pandemic.
Like Norwegian, Norse – which is based out of Arendal – offers tiered service levels at tiered prices. There are two basic classes: Economy, which includes a seat and not much else (baggage, meals, seat types all cost extra); and Premium, which is roughly twice the price and features seats with 35% more leg room and – depending on whether you select Premium Light, Classic or Plus – meals, luggage or seat assignments at no extra cost.
Whatever the class, all flights are served via next-generation Boeing-787s, considered among the most comfortable, energy-efficient and quiet in the air. For the moment, Norse flies between JFK, Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale to Oslo. Next month Norse launches between Oslo and Los Angeles; JFK and Los Angeles to Berlin; and JFK to London-Gatwick.
Breeze Airways is the latest aviation enterprise from industry legend David Neeleman, who’s best known for launching JetBlue back in 1998. Neeleman is a serial aviation entrepreneur, who after stepping back from JetBlue in 2008, went on to establish Azul in Brazil, which quickly became one of that nation’s largest carriers.
Now Neeleman is back stateside with Breeze, which is based in Salt Lake City. Launched in 2021, Breeze is focused on lesser-served, secondary cities, many on the East Coast, such as Westchester, Islip and Hartford airports (some 30 in total).
Like JetBlue during its earliest days, Breeze is committed to keeping costs low and service high – including no charges for flight changes or cancellations as long as they’re made within 15 minutes of take-off.
Enjoy Breeze’s fleet of Airbus A220s and Embraer 190s and 195s to perennial warmer-weather getaways such as Orlando, Las Vegas and Savannah. “Breeze avoids hubs for nonstop flights and has great fares,” said Neeleman. “We like to say we get you there in about half the time for around half the price”.
Like during the great “Age of Discovery” some five centuries ago, modern travelers are looking for even more efficient passageways to Asia. Enter Northern Pacific Airways, a new – and still-in-development – carrier based in Anchorage, AK. The carrier has acquired a small fleet of 757 aircrafts and – using Anchorage as a hub – will connect cities in the US with equally key cities in Asia.
Although the launch date and launch destinations have yet to be announced, think New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco to Anchorage – followed on by Anchorage on to Tokyo, Osaka and Seoul.
The airline’s pricing model will skew “low-cost” and likely include economy and premium-economy cabins. The airline has already fitted a handful of aircraft with a sleek black-and-white livery and launch should commence by the end of the year.
Iceland-based PLAY arrived statewide in April, a lower-priced competitor of sorts to Iceland Air, which has long been a favorite of travelers looking to hang out in Iceland en route to the rest of Europe. PLAY currently serves around 20 European destinations from the US gateways of Boston, Baltimore and Newburgh, about 55 miles north of New York City in the Hudson Valley.
PLAY bills itself as a low-cost play and – like Norse – the prices are cheap if you keep it simple. That means little more than a single carry-on item is complimentary at the lowest ticket price; everything else – additional carry-on bags, checked luggage and seat assignments will cost ya. PLAY flies a mix of A320 and A321 Neos, with decent-sized seats.
All on-board amenities are also extra – including water for $ 1 a bottle. If you’re gonna splurge on grub, consider the selection of Iceland treats such as Freyja Draumur (a licorice and chocolate treat) or Icelandic caffeinated water.
Launched in October 2021, Aha! is a low-cost airline based out of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport that serves a dozen smaller-sized communities on the West Coast.
It’s an area, says Subodh Karnik, CEO of ExpressJet Airlines, the parent company of Aha !, that’s “an underserved multi-season destination that is experiencing… tremendous growth.”
Aha! flies a fleet of Embraer regional jets to both leisure and business destinations in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Idaho with flights often beginning from as low as $ 29 each way.