Busted Airlines #4: AtlasGlobal

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.

Last time, we showed you how Air Berlin got taken down by a conspiracy run by the Catalonian Deep State. So which busted airline is next – and how did they go bust?


AtlasGlobal isn't the most famous airline on our Busted list. Arguably, it isn't the most beautiful airline either. But it IS (we think) the only airline to successfully send another airline bust without also falling over itself.

For a few years, at least.

For those of you encountering the mighty AG for the first time, they were a Turkish airline with HQ in Istanbul (fun fact: competitor Turkish Airlines is the largest carrier in the world by number of destinations).

Established in 2001, Atlas had an uneventful first decade or so. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, in 2013 they pulled an absolutely gangster move on US-based Ryan International Airlines.

The relationship started virtuously enough – Atlas contracted Ryan International to operate religious pilgrimage flights to cities such as Medina and Tel Aviv. But when Ryan hit a tough spot and entered voluntary bankruptcy in an effort to restructure, Atlas (in our imagination) said "oh, haha, perfect timing, our invoice was almost due" and straight up stopped paying their bills.

As you might imagine, this was not particularly helpful during a bankruptcy re-org, and Ryan International found themselves immediately, permanently busted.

Another notable AtlasGlobal episode was their encounter with the world's least-effective hijackers. In August 2007, Atlas Flight 1011 from Ercan, Northern Cyprus to Istanbul was hijacked by two passengers soon after take-off. The hijackers said they were members of Al Qaeda, announced they were carrying explosives, and demanded the pilots divert the aircraft to Tehran. So far, so expected.

Yet somehow, the pilots of 1011 convinced the hijackers that they needed to stop for refuelling in Antalya (which is only a 1hr flight from Ercan, and Very Much Not En Route to Tehran). Soon after, all females and children were allowed to leave the plane. Next, all the remaining passengers kicked open the back door and tried to get out, the hijackers surrendered during the panic, and zero notable injuries were reported.

Anyway! AtlasGlobal is one of the few airlines on our list that wasn't a victim of the pandemic – but never fear, the end was suitably shambolic:

26 November 2019: AG announce a temporary suspension of all flights, until 21 December, due to a restructuring of the airline.

16 December 2019: AG resume scheduled flight operations, five days ahead of their previously announced return. In a statement, they announce their revised business plan will see more focus on charter flights.

7 January 2020: less than one month later, AG announce they're suspending operations again until 9 February.

29 January 2020: again "ahead of schedule", AG announce they've returned their sole two Airbus A330-200s to the owners.

12 February 2020: AG halt operations effective immediately and file for bankruptcy.

And thus, mere weeks before the pandemic becomes global news, AtlasGlobal finally enter into the BUSTED Hall of Fame.

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