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36 start-up airlines line up for take-off. Part 3: Africa, N America

While most of the airline industry is working out how to survive the next two years, burdened by massive debt and confronting an uncertain world still deeply challenged by COVID, would-be airlines are queuing up to enter one of the least profitable industries in commercial history. After 42 startups in the last 18 months, there are at least 36 still to come. Why?

Perhaps startup conditions are more fertile than ever before. The barriers to market entry have always been relatively low; today, much more so. Survival conditions might be another matter though.

Speaking to CAPA Live on 12-May-2021, Air Lease Corporation's executive chairman Steven Udvar–Házy identified the raw ingredients for making a new airline as: "cheap money, capital, cheap aircraft, and pilots".

"Today we have relatively easy access to capital. There's venture money that's available", said the 50-year aviation industry veteran, adding, "There's good young used aircraft at reasonable prices, and there's plenty of pilots and flight attendants that are looking for work. That's a temptation to start a new airline."

Mr Udvar–Házy might have added there are also lots of lessors keen to place surplus existing orders somewhere. According to CAPA's databases, 42 start-up airlines launched operations between Jan-2020 and 12-Jun-2021.

At least 36 more are actively planning to launch within a timeframe of 12 to 24 months, of which 13 are based in Europe, eight in Latin America, eight in Asia Pacific, four in Africa, and three in North America.

This is Part 3 of the three part CAPA report looking at these 36 start-up airlines, in Africa and North America.


  • There are 36 global start-ups yet to launch, in addition to 42 new airlines that became active between Jan-2020 and 12-Jun-2021.
  • Of those, 13 are based in Europe, eight in Latin America, eight in Asia Pacific, four in Africa and three in North America.
  • "The jury's still out" on whether all these start-ups will succeed, according to Air Lease Corporation's Steven Udvar–Házy.
  • This, Part 3 of a three part series, looks at the Latin American and Asia Pacific wannabes.

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