This article was originally posted on on March 16th, 2018 at 12:32 AM. To see the full article in it’s original location click here.

There has been an average of three long haul low cost airlines launches per year since 2012. There are now more than 160 widebody aircraft operating scheduled long haul low cost services under 21 operator’s certificates from 17 countries.

The US is an obvious white spot as the world’s largest aviation market still does not have a local long haul low cost airline. World Airways aims to fill this void, recognising that US full service airline groups are unlikely to follow their counterparts in Asia or Europe in establishing a long haul low cost subsidiary.

In 2017 a US private equity firm purchased the intellectual property of World Airways, which had suspended operations in 2014, and aims to relaunch the airline in 1Q2019 following the long haul low cost model. There is clearly an opportunity in the US for a long haul LCC, but pursuing this niche as an independent without affiliation to an existing airline could be challenging.


There are now 21 long haul low cost airlines based in 17 countries, but the US still does not have a single long haul low cost operator.

World Airways is aiming to fill this void and launch services in 2019. World Airways plans to launch with narrowbody aircraft but quickly transition to widebody aircraft.

Over the past six years, 19 LCCs have launched widebody services.

Long haul low cost airline sector has grown rapidly since 2012. There are currently 21 long haul low cost airlines operating scheduled services with widebody aircraft. This excludes any LCC operating only narrowbody aircraft – although a few of these airlines are operating routes of five to six hours, meeting some definitions of long haul.

A remarkable 19 LCCs have launched widebody services within the past six years as the long haul low cost model has started to gain momentum and become more mainstream.

Australia’s Jetstar and Malaysia’s AirAsia X were the pioneers of the long haul low cost model, launching their widebody operations in 2006 and 2007.

Long haul low cost scheduled airlines in order of launch date

Airline Country Affiliation or parentage Launch

Aircraft type currently in use

  • Jetstar Australia Qantas 2006 787-8
  • AirAsia X Malaysia AirAsia 2007 A330-300
  • Scoot Singapore Singapore Airlines 2012 787-8/9
  • Norwegian Air Shuttle Norway Norwegian 2013 787-8
  • Air Canada rouge Canada Air Canada 2013 767-300ER
  • Cebu Pacific Philippines Cebu Pacific 2013 A330-300
  • Norwegian Air International Ireland Norwegian 2014 787-8/9
  • Jin Air South Korea Korean Air 2014 777-200
  • Azul Brazil Azul 2014 A330-200
  • Thai AirAsia X Thailand AirAsia 2014 A330-300
  • Indonesia AirAsia X Indonesia AirAsia 2014 A330-300
  • NokScoot Thailand Singapore Airlines 2015 777-200
  • Lion Air Indonesia Lion 2015 A330-300
  • WestJet Canada WestJet 2015 767-300ER
  • Beijing Capital China Hainan Airlines 2015 A330-200/300
  • Eurowings^ Germany Lufthansa 2015 A330-200
  • Wow Air Iceland Wow 2016 A330-300
  • French Bee France N/A 2016 A330-300/A350-900
  • Norwegian Air UK United Kingdom Norwegian 2017 787-9
  • Level* Spain IAG 2017 A330-200
  • Thai Lion Air Thailand Lion 2017 A330-300
  • Notes: *Level does not have its own operator’s certificate; all its aircraft are currently operated under Iberia.
  • Eurowings A330 fleet is operated by SunExpress Germany.
  • Norwegian Air International is based in Ireland but does not operate any 787 services from Ireland; it does operate trans-Atlantic services from Ireland using 737 MAX aircraft.
  • Lion took delivery of its A330s in late 2015; it had previously operated 747-400s but these were not operated under a long haul low cost model.
  • French Bee was initially known as French Blue.
  • Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation.

Air Canada rouge is now the largest long haul LCC based on fleet size, operating 25 aircraft. However, AirAsia X is bigger as a group, with a fleet of 30 aircraft that includes 22 at the original subsidiary in Malaysia. Norwegian as a group has 25 787s, spread across three operator’s certificates.

From a brand perspective, AirAsia X and Norwegian operate as one entity across their various AOCs.

There are currently 15 long haul low cost brands – when Scoot and NokScoot, along with Lion and Thai Lion, are also counted as single brands. The two Scoot-branded airlines have a combined widebody fleet of 20 aircraft, making it the fourth largest long haul low cost player in terms of fleet (after Air Asia X, Air Canada rouge and Norwegian), while the Lion Group has only six widebody aircraft.

CAPA will convene the world’s first Longhaul Low Cost Airline Summit in Seville, Spain in Oct-2018

Other CAPA LCC Summits will also be held in Seoul: LCCs in North Asia Summit And in Cartagena, Colombia: Latin America Aviation & LCCs Summit

Long haul low cost airlines ranked by widebody fleet size: as of 14-Mar-2018

Affiliation with short haul LCCs is important

Nearly half of the 21 airlines listed above were start-ups launching with widebody aircraft, while the rest were already operating narrowbody aircraft. However, nearly all of the start-ups have sister short haul LCCs, which is important, as feed has generally been viewed as a critical component of the still-evolving long haul low cost model.

A lack of feed was a factor in the demise of two early independent long haul LCCs – Oasis Hong Kong and Viva Macau. Oasis Hong Kong suspended operations in 2008 and Viva Macau suspended operations in 2010.

The number of long haul LCCs should reach 25, and potentially 30, by the end of this decade.

Joon, a new LCC launched by Air France-KLM in late 2017 with A320s, is planning to launch long haul operations in 2019 with A350s. The independent start-up World Airways is aiming to launch operations in early 2019 – it will likely start with A320 family aircraft but begin operating widebody aircraft within a year.

If it succeeds at launching, World will be only the second purely independent long haul LCC (i.e. does not have a short haul operation, and is not part of an existing airline group or is affiliated with a short haul LCC). The only current exception is French Bee, which launched services in 2016 and currently operates just one route, from Paris Orly to La Réunion, with an all-widebody fleet of two aircraft. (French Bee was initially known as French Blue, but changed its name to avoid a lawsuit with JetBlue Airways.)

World Airways director of business development Adam Weiss discusses the long haul low cost start-up’s fleet and network plan, as well as branding, product positioning and the need to work with short haul airlines for feed

Source: CAPA TV.

World Airways could become the first US-based long haul LCC

World will also be unique as it would be the first long haul LCC based in the US.

Only four long haul LCCs currently serve the mainland US – Azul, Eurowings, Norwegian and WOW. Azul and Eurowings only serve Florida, while Norwegian and WOW have a much larger trans-Atlantic operation using a mix of narrowbody and widebody aircraft.

French Bee plans to start serving the US in May-2018 with the launch of a Paris-San Francisco-Papeete route. AirAsia X, Jin and Scoot serve Hawaii but do not have any mainland US destinations.

World Airways could become the first LCC connecting the US west coast to Asia. However, it plans to start with shorter routes from the US east coast to Europe or Latin America before venturing across the Pacific

World Airways director of business development Adam Weiss told the CAPA Global LCC summit on 1-Mar-2018 that there is “a huge latent population in the US which doesn’t travel internationally”. Mr Weiss pointed out that there are no US long haul LCCs and World Airways is “filling that white space”.