Busted Airlines #9: The Worst of the Rest
Theoretically, this series is about Airlines That Went Bust Since 2017.
In reality, it's about Montenegrin banana importers, Turkish truck drivers, false claims about negotiating with Somali pirates(!), Ibiza techno club collabs, the Indian Mafia, and the urgent government rescue of 110,000 sunburned Brits On Tour.
(all of this madness is stuff we stumbled across while updating our tool that tells you carry-on luggage restrictions for every airline in the world).
If there's any airline – or any wild story – we missed, let us know.
The Worst of the Rest
The airlines below didn't have as many (publicly available) wild stories as others in the series, but deserved honorable mentions regardless.
Founded in 1978 in Cologne, Germany, the then-named Special Air Transport (SAT) kicked off with one plane, a Fokker F-27 Friendship (aww).
Our tender feelings towards Germania quickly disappear as we learn they "pioneered" the use of aircraft for advertising, making them a direct ancestor of "let me just apply this advertisement to your eyeballs, that'll be 15 quid" Ryanair approach.
In another marker of questionable taste, Germania decided to use its jet fleet (acquired from the bankrupt US Airways) to launch a low-budget airline named – and I can barely bring myself to write this –"gexx".
(Is gexx a worse branding crime than Monarch's FlyKandi? Let us know in the comments...)
Germania eventually stopped flying, without notice, in the middle of the night in February 2019. Passengers on flight ST3711 from Fuerteventura boarded a functioning airline, and got off their plane in Nuremberg at 1:11am to find that it was BUSTED, possibly because it was flying almost-certainly-uneconomical routes like Fuerteventura-Nuremberg.
Interjet was a Mexican LCC headquartered in Mexico City.
It launched in late 2005, with just one Airbus A320, but in 2012 the airline committed to purchasing only the Sukhoi Superjet 100, which sold for about half the price of comparable aircraft. Reviews on the Superjet are... mixed.
We'll cut a long story short: in 2020 Interjet cancelled a ton of flights because they couldn't pay for fuel despite promising to, they got sued by their own employees for stranding them in far-flung destinations, got thrown out of the IATA, and the Mexican Government refused to bail them out. Finally, the police captured one of its former owners, and Interpol is hunting for the other.
Given the history, you'll forgive us for being skeptical of any claimed comebacks – no no, friends, Interjet remain BUSTED.
One of the more exotic airline founding stories: Meridiana was set up (under the original name of Alisarda) in 1963 by Aga Khan Prince Karīm al-Hussaynī, with the aim of promoting tourism in Sardinia. Alisarda initially served as an air taxi service, connecting its base in Olbia, Sardinia to the Italian capital city of Rome. Sounds legit! And looks dreamy:
By 2010, Meridiana fly (yes, the lower case f is intentional, they merged with Eurofly and... 🤦♂️) had become the second-largest carrier in Italy.
It was all looking good in 2018, as Meridiana rebranded (again) to Air Italy and announced an ambitious plan to expand its fleet and destinations, to become Italy's flagship carrier. Great success was on the horizon!
Air Italy ceased operations in early 2020.
Tiger Airways Singapore Pte Ltd, operating as Tigerair, was a budget airline headquartered (as you might expect) in Singapore.
It served regional destinations in Southeast Asia, Bangladesh, Taiwan, China and India from its main base at Changi Airport. Yes, this Changi Airport:
In 2005, the company – a liiiiittle pompously, if you ask us – produced a report card on its first year of operations, with a total of over 500,000 passengers carried, 5000 scheduled flights flown, and a flight completion rate of 98.7 per cent.
And look, we can't say that it all fell apart. The end game for Tiger is actually a little different to every other airline in the Busted Airlines series: their ultimate owner, Singapore Airlines, realised it was complete madness to run four (4!) airline brands – Singapore, Tiger, SilkAir, and Scoot – in a city-state of 5M people, and merged both Tiger and SilkAir into Scoot.
So technically, Tiger was "forcibly merged". But you think we're going to finish this entire series on an objective, generous, fair note?!
Let us remind you: this is the same series that brought you Yugoslavian air strikes, mystery DELL SonicWALL booking sites, Catalan conspiracies, extremely ineffective hijackers, ridiculous route maps, questionable corporate behavior, upside-down family members, and OK-this-is-probably-actually-criminal corporate behavior.
So. In that spirit.