The world is huge

Don't miss any of it

Travel news, itineraries, and inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.

By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.


9 Airlines You Haven’t Heard of Yet

9 New Airlines
(Photo: Thinkstock/Digital Vision)

The airline business—like show business—somehow keeps attracting would-be operators into what has largely been, over the years, an investor’s black hole. Since deregulation, about 200 new airlines were started in the U.S. and Canada, but only a handful survive: Allegiant, (the new) Frontier, JetBlue, Porter, Spirit, Sun Country, WestJet, and Virgin America. (Some folks also include Southwest, but it actually started several years before deregulation.)

Surviving start-ups focus on some combination of very low costs and low fares, per Frontier, Spirit, and WestJet; superior coach/economy products at competitive fares, per JetBlue, Porter, and Virgin America; a substantial number of seats sold to tour operators, per Sun Country; and unique nowhere-to-somewhere routes, per Allegiant. Only one airline, Midwest Express, survived more than a year with a “first class at coach prices” strategy; a dozen or more others flopped very quickly.

The start-up scene was very quiet following the great recession, but it seems to be heating up again. Here are nine start-up airlines (based in or flying to North America) that have mainline aspirations. Will they survive? You decide.

Don't Miss a Trip, Tip, or Deal!

Let us do the legwork! Sign up for our free newsletter now.

By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Top Fares From