Is This The Birth Of A New Low-Cost Transatlantic Airline?

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With Norwegian reduced to an unrecognizable shell of the airline it once was, the low-cost transatlantic experiment looked to have finally come to a shuddering halt, but the experiment may be alive and well after all. A little-known airline, Neos, may be about to try to chance its luck against the legacy carriers.

Neos is a charter airline based in Italy (a country not known for success in the world of commercial aviation) which operates a fleet of six Boeing 737-800s (186 seats) and six Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners (359 seats).

a diagram of a plane
A Neos 787-9 Dreamliner seat map

In 2008, the airline was given permission to operate charter flights to the United States but it recently put in an application to the US Department of Transport (DoT) to have its permit altered to allow it to operate scheduled flights between Europe and the United States. [HT: Routes Online].

Neos’ base is Milan Malpensa (ironically, the former home of another Italian airline that tried to make low-cost transatlantic travel profitable – Air Italy) and before the pandemic brought the travel world crashing down, it offered a number of transatlantic charter flights to destinations like Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Guadeloupe, but it didn’t offer any flights to the United States.

Now, having watched Norwegian all but disappear from existence and presumably thinking that it can do better, Neos appears to have its eyes focused on offering regular service between Europe (probably Italy) and the US. The airline hasn’t made it known which routes it would like to operate but it’s probably safe to assume that it will be focusing heavily on the leisure market and just as Norweigan did in the beginning, on the smaller airports in popular metropolitan areas.

Bottom Line

The history of aviation is littered with the names of airlines that tried to make a low-cost transatlantic business model work and while some stuck around for longer than others, all eventually met the same fate – failure. When the pandemic is finally over there will undoubtedly be a sudden rush to travel as people look to make up for lost time and it’s possible that Neos could capitalize on that rush. This, however, would only be a short-term boost and at some point Neos will have to come to terms with the realities that all its predecessors had to face. Only then will we see if the airline’s transatlantic plans have a future. It would be great to see a transatlantic low-cost flyer flourishing, but history isn’t on Neos’ side.