10 Famous Airlines That No Longer Exist!

Aviation industry has existed for more than a 100 years now, but it has seen many airlines come and go.

Whether it’s rising oil prices, politics , mismanagement or financial loss, this notoriously fickle industry can have an effect on even the biggest airlines in the world.

In fact, on 2nd October 2018, “Primera Air”, a Scandinavian low-cost airline, left thousands of flyers stranded in the Northern Atlantic and European region, when it abruptly ceased its operations.

To give you more insight into the airlines of the past, here are 10 Carriers that managed to make an impression on the industry and passengers before their final flights.

1.Pan Am

Pan Am, short for Pan American World Airways, started off as a tiny, airmail carrier that hopped from Florida to Cuba and back in 1927.

However, it went on to become the world’s largest airline and an industry innovator.

Graduating from small planes to Boeing 747s, the airline pioneered flight routes, opened hotels (InterContinental hotel chain), and symbolized the glamor of the jet age.

Oil crises, hijackings and other operational setbacks plunged Pan Am into financial crisis, and the carrier ceased on December 4, 1991.

Delta airlines acquired its assets for $1.39 billion.

2.Virgin America

Known for its colourful cabin lights and a desire to offer its passengers a stylish flying experience, Virgin America captured the US air travel market and won many prestigious awards for it.

Although Virgin Group head Mr. Richard Branson was only a minority owner, his stunts combined with innovative marketing approaches often grabbed headlines making it a household name in America.

Many hearts broke across the country when the carrier was purchased by “Alaska Airlines” and the final Virgin America flight took off on April 24, 2018.

3.Air Berlin

Founded in 1978, the airline operated holiday flights from Berlin to vacation destinations in the Mediterranean. Eventually, the airline became popular and Air Berlin went on to become one of the biggest airlines in Europe.

Expansion plans, which were dependent on the future, didn’t go as planned and the airline had to scale back its operations leading to financial loses.

It flew its final flight in October 2017. Lufthansa group swopped in to buy 81 airplanes and employed more than 3,000 former Air Berlin employees.

4.Monarch Airlines

Primera Air isn’t the only airline to abruptly fail and strand travellers far from home.

The budget British airline, founded in 1967, flew vacationers to tourism hotspots around Europe and Israel.

However, financial difficulties drove the airline to desperately seek funding and, despite Boeing’s investment in 2016, the airline flew its last flight on 2nd October 2017.

The airline stranded around 111000 passengers, who were shifted to other airlines. It is estimated that this whole operation costed $78 million.

5.Kingfisher Airlines

Since commencing its flights in 2005, Kingfisher wasn’t just a brand name associated with beer in India. It had taken over the masses who wanted to fly in style.

Its international flights featured a bar in first class and top of the line entertainment systems and full-size pillows in the economy class.

Consistent heavy financial losses drove Kingfisher to the brink of shutting down several times before the airline was forced to end operations in 2012, when the government suspended its license and froze its accounts for non-payment of taxes.

6.US Airways

Founded in 1937 as “All American Airways”, the airline went through a lot of name changes (from ‘US Air in 1979 to “US Airways” in 1997), but it was the world’s largest airline during the mid 70’s and early 80’s.

On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 landed on the Hudson River following engine failure from multiple bird strikes. All passengers and crew survived in the event, now termed the “Miracle on the Hudson.”

US Airways merged with American Airlines in 2013, forming the world’s largest airline. The final US Airways-branded flight flew in April 2015.


Continental’s long history started in 1937, when the airline was rebranded and refocused from flying airmail to carrying passengers.

The airline was responsible for many historic “firsts” such as, hiring the first African-American pilot to work for any major US carrier (1963), inaugurating the first regular jet routes connecting islands across the Pacific (1968), flying the first non-stop route over 16 hours (Newark to Hong Kong, 2001) and offering 24-hour online support (2009).

Headquartered in Houston, the airline flew until it merged with United Airlines in 2012.

8.Air Australia

About 4000 passengers were left stranded in 2012 when Air Australia went bust out of the blue, suddenly grounding flights in its network.

It had pushed itself to the financial brink, literally running out of money to buy fuel. The Brisbane-based carrier failed to pay its debts of up to $90 million and was liquidated.

Up until a few hours before liquidation, tickets were still being sold online. The airline ended up making $36 million from about 100,000 tickets for future travel, which became worthless.

9.Swiss Air

For years, the national airline of Switzerland seemed unbreakable. Founded in 1931, it was known as the “Flying Bank” because it was so financially stable and had a reputation for great service.

Throughout the 1980s the airline continued to thrive and was one of the major carriers in western Europe. But it didn’t last.

A disastrous overexpansion program and an unstable economic environment hit the airline hard during 2001.

With its entire fleet grounded, it was only kept alive by the government. After months of chaos and injections of millions of dollars, it was closed down the following year in a move that shocked the country.

Most of its airplanes and routes were taken over by a new airline, Swiss International Air Lines a.k.a ‘SWISS’.

10.Trans World Airways (TWA)

One of Pan Am’s main rivals, TWA has a long and glamorous history spanning 71 years.

In its early days, it flourished under billionaire Howard Hughes, however, poor management in the 1980s hurt the airline, which eventually suffered huge losses.

The airline declared bankruptcy in 1992 and 1995 but that was not the end of it. Disaster struck In 1996, when flight TWA 800 exploded and crashed just minutes after taking off from John F Kennedy Airport, killing all 230 people aboard, which garnered negative media publicity.

The airline continued to struggle until it was once again forced into bankruptcy in 2001 and was acquired by American Airlines.

Spread the love

Facebook Comments

Comments are closed, but <a href="" title="Trackback URL for this post">trackbacks</a> and pingbacks are open.