Airlines that never flew

An airline is a very difficult business to make work. Because of this, several carriers over the years never really got very far from the drawing board. Here are five examples.

Family Airlines

Family Airlines was an American low-cost airline proposed originally in the early 1990s. Founded by Barry Michaels, the carrier intended to offer $249 Los Angeles-New York City fares catering for family travellers.

In 1993, the FAA announced it would no longer process the airline’s application to begin service. The US Department for Transportation reviewed lawsuits and judgements against its founder and asked Barry Michaels to relinquish control of the company.

Family Airlines
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Torsten Maiwald

In June 1996, the Securities and Exchange Commission reportedly filed a suit against the airline’s founder and his wife for offering unregistered stock for the airline.

In January 2008, Family Airlines again applied for permission from the FAA to begin services. A year later, the application was denied. Several attempts have been made since to get the airline going, all so far have failed.

AV8 Air

A UK-based airline, AV8 Air was established in June 2003 and started operations in the November of that year. The carrier was a subsidiary of Manchester-based tour operator CT2. The firm wet-leased an Icelandair Boeing 757 while it awaited the approval of its own Air Operator’s Certificate.

This was rejected due to the lack of a bond and the airline subsequently ceased trading after only five months.

Roots Air

Roots Air was a low-cost airline based in Canada that both started and ceased operations in 2001. The carrier was an experiment by Roots Canada, a Toronto-based clothier.

The operator began services in March 2001 and ceased operations in May that year when Air Canada acquired a 30% equity interest and 50% voting stake in Roots Air operator Skyservice.

The carrier’s fleet consisted of three Airbus A320-200s, one Boeing 727 and a single A330-300 which was never utilised because the airline shutdown before it could be moved to its base.

Fortunair Canada

A short-lived Canadian charter airline, Fortunair began operations in 1994 and was created by former Nationair employees. Using an ex-Pan Am Boeing 747, the carrier flew flights between Montreal and Toronto to Fort Lauderdale, Paris and Nice.

Services began on June 30, 1994 but had been stopped by August 19 that year, on the grounds of illicit financing from Nationair which was still in liquidation – the license was never reinstated.

USGlobal Airways

Probably the most famous example of an airline that has never flown is USGlobal Airways. Founded in 1989, the carrier has repeatably acquired aircraft and failed to get the approvals to begin services.

Photo: Baltia Air Lines

If you would like to read more about this unusual airline, Key.Aero has a comprehensive historical review, you can find it here: