Did you see it coming? Airline failures of 2023

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Did you see it coming? Airline failures of 2023




Ishka summarises airlines that met their end in 2023. During the year, multiple carriers ceased operations due to insolvency, or due to the required licensing being lost or withdrawn – and unlikely to be returned.  Separately, we also detailed those airlines that stopped flying but have a chance of being revived.



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Airlines that stopped flying but stand a chance of being revived.

  • Fly CORALway shut down at the end of 2023 due to financial issues and the ongoing impacts of Covid-19. The carrier had pushed back its launch several times since 2020.  It had plans to link New Caledonia with French Polynesia, along with islands in between.
  • Despite appearing in last year’s list, Blue Air, which had suspended operations in September 2022, declared insolvency in March 2023. There has been speculation that another airline is in negotiations with the Romanian authorities to buy the insolvent carrier.
  • Bangladeshi airline Regent Airways was liquidated after stopping flight operations in March 2020. It was reported the airline was one of eleven companies liquidated due to the Wilmington Trust Company initiating legal action in Bangladesh’s High Court against their parent group, Dhaka's Habib Group. At least three former aircraft – a B737-800 and two DHC-8-Q300s - stand derelict at Dhaka airport.
  • iAero Airways and Western Global Airlines signed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The former, founded in 2019 through the acquisition of Swift Air, retains 44 aircraft although 16 are inactive.Western Global filed in August and, after a short reorganising, exited the Chapter 11 process in December. It retained the same fleet, which included a mixture of 747-400 freighters and sixteen MD-11Fs.


Several airline names disappeared following mergers.

  • Buta Airways was amalgamated into AZAL Azerbaijan Airlines in October 2023. It is the airline’s low-cost arm and operates Embraer 190s.
  • S7 Airlines completed the (re)integration of its former subsidiary Globus in November 2023. This is effectively the second time this has happened, after the brand was resurrected in early 2022 to serve as the AOC for new ULCC brand Citrus. This never occurred as Western sanctions on Russia prevented S7 Group from taking on A320neos aircraft for the new unit.
  • ULCC airline Swoop was merged into WestJet in November 2023, along with its mix of B737-800s and B737 Max 8s.
  • Thai Smile was absorbed back into parent Thai International at the end of 2023. This move was initially suggested in February 2023 as part of a strategic plan to streamline operations and improve service efficiency.


The Ishka View

As expected, 2023 registered fewer airline failures compared to the previous year. Given the tough operating environment that remained, it was the low-cost carrier market, with little flexibility in its costs and networks, that suffered most from the resulting competition. This was evident in the mergers of 2023, where low-cost or regional operations were consolidated into their parent groups.

Undoubtably, the airline that garnered the most media attention for its collapse was Go First. This was primarily due to its size, as it was the largest failure of 2023 with a fleet of 54 aircraft leased from various airlines. Additionally, its highly publicised dispute with Pratt & Whitney over engine issues contributed to the extensive media coverage.

Aside from this, a noteworthy aspect of the list is the high number of Latin American airlines – 6 out of 17, or 35% – that ceased operations. This is partly due to the lack of economic support from local governments during the pandemic, as mounting losses eventually led to closures. Factors like high inflation, currency depreciation, and increasing fuel prices in recent years also worsened their financial situations.

From an aircraft standpoint, the A320ceo features prominently in the list of failed airlines. However, an airline failure can often be traced down to poor management rather than to an intrinsic aircraft or route structure problem.  Indeed, some of these aircraft can return to being operated on the same, or similar, routes by another airline and done so on a profitable basis.




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