2018 has been a tough year for the airline industry, and we’ve seen many airlines, both big and small, go under, merge with other carriers, or perish in some other fashion. Here’s a list of airlines that disappeared in 2018.

The Dominican flag carrier, PAWA Dominicana, flew its last flight on 28 January. It succumbed to financial woes that were present since the airline resumed commercial operations in mid-2015. PAWA Dominicana operated a fleet of seven MD-80 aircraft at the time of bankruptcy, and it had orders for used Bombardier CRJs and Boeing 757s to expand and modernize.

US regional carrier Great Lakes Airlines went under in March. The airline faced financial challenges after losing multiple Essential Air Service (EAS) contracts, and it finally ceased operations, with many of its 30 aircraft sitting idle. At one point in its history, Great Lakes Airlines was the largest EAS provider in the country. However, just before devlaring bankruptcy, it only operated two out of its seven EAS routes.

The regional arm of SWISS, SWISS Global Airlines, folded in April. However, its fleet of 27 aircraft still operates with SWISS, SWISS Global Airlines’ parent airline.

In the year’s most publicized airline merger, Virgin America turned its operations over to Alaska Airlines in April. Virgin America’s large fleet of Airbus A320 family aircraft flies on at Alaska Air, and many of Virgin’s routes are still alive. Nonetheless, Virgin America liveries will soon be gone from the skies.

A Virgin America A320. Photo by Zaref Anderson / Aeronautics Online

Swedish regional carrier Nextjet ceased operations in May. It was the final passenger operator of the BAe ATP aircraft, which were transferred to EnComm after Nextjet’s bankruptcy.

Domestic and regional carrier Aserca Airlines went bankrupt in 2018. The Venezuelan carrier owned eleven MD-80 family aircraft and operated six domestic and three international destinations across South America and the Caribbean. 

Russian regional airline Saratov Airlines stopped flying in May after the crash of Flight 703 in February.

US Charter airline OneJet ceased operations on 29 August after its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) was revoked. The airline operated two Embraer ERJ aircraft and eight Beechcraft Beechjets.

Wataniya Airways was among the largest airlines of Kuwait before closing in September. At that time, it had three Airbus A320 aircraft, including two operated by Greek charter airline Olympus Airways. The other aircraft was grounded shortly after Wataniya’s bankruptcy due to engine troubles. The airline had 25 Airbus A320neos and 10 Embraer E190E2s on order. Those planes will not be delivered

Primera Air became the first low-cost, long-haul airline to fail when it ceased operations in early October. The airline’s fleet included 737-800s and A321neos (the A321neos were used for the trans-Atlantic flights). Primera had A321LRs and 737 MAX 9s on order. However, none of the orders will be delivered. 

Low-cost carrier FastJet Tanzania ceased operations on 17 December, according to Cranky Flier. The airline operated a fleet of just two Embraer E190 aircraft, and it had three ATR 72s on order for more regional operations. The ATRs may go to another FastJet group airline, or the orders may be canceled. 

 The only low-cost carrier in Jordan, Air Arabia Jordan, stopped flying this year as well. It operated a fleet of two Airbus A320s at the time of closure.

An Air Arabia A320. Photo by Alvaro Lanza / Aeronautics Online

 PrivatAir, an airline known for operating long 737 and A319 routes for other airlines, disappeared this year after a downturn in the charter industry.

Bern-based Skywork Airlines stopped operating earlier this year, even after a promising upturn after a Saab 2000s delivery and Embraer E170 order. Now, Bern airport, which relied heavily on Skywork services, has lost most of its service, and it is unclear whether another airline will step up to fill the gap.

 Small Planet Airlines, which had subsidiaries in Lithuania, Germany, Cambodia, and Poland, was grounded in 2018. Small Planet faced a tough year financially, especially due to increased competition from Ryanair and Wizz Air. 

36 smaller airlines that you may not have heard of also ceased operations this year, including:

A Cobalt Airlines Airbus A319. Photo by Alvaro Lanza / Aeronautics Online

ADI Aerodynamics

Air Costa Rica

Air Link

Air Viking


ASL Airlines Switzerland

ASL Airlines Spain

Azur Air

BackBone Aviation



Business Jet Travel Airline

CABI Airlines

Cello Aviation


Cobalt Air

Dart Airlines

Express Airways

Fly Viking




Latin American Wings

Laynha Air

Linea Turistica Aereotuy

Naysa Aerotaxis

Norfolk Island Airlines

Orca Airways

Palau Pacific Airways


Rossair Charter

Royal Wings

SBA Airlines

Sparrow Aviation

VLM Airlines


Featured Image by Catarina Madureira / Aeronautics Online

Categories: Editors Choice

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Which Airlines Stopped Flying in 2018?

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