Will 2022 Be The Year Low-Cost Long-Haul Finally Takes Off?

Many have attempted low-cost long-haul flying, though few, if any, have succeeded. However, in the past couple of years, the industry has been significantly shaken. Airlines launching now don’t carry the burden of the pandemic and can also take advantage of things that may not have been possible before.

Long Haul, Low Cost, Successful
Could 2022 be the year that low-cost long-haul takes off? Photo: Getty Images

After the strong recovery experienced by the aviation industry in 2021, next year seems as though it will be far closer to business as usual. This has been helped by the removal of harsh travel restrictions across the board. The expected demand will likely create new opportunities for the industry.

2022: The year of low-cost long-haul?

In the past, it has been hard to make the low-cost model work on a long-haul basis, and we’ve seen many airlines stumble on the way. One only needs to think of Primera, Wow, or even the long-haul arm of Norwegian. In the wake of the pandemic, others now wish to give it a try, and there’s reason to think that it may well pay off this time.

The pandemic has opened some doors to prospective long-haul low-cost airlines that were firmly locked previously. One significant benefit that such carriers have now been able to take advantage of is power-by-the-hour agreements. Essentially, only paying a lessor for an aircraft while you’re flying it.

PLAY, Launch, Expansion
PLAY has a power-by-the-hour agreement with lessors. Photo: PLAY

The pandemic grounded many aircraft, while airlines canceled orders from lessors. With aircraft to lease and nobody to take them, lessors became creative and started offering their planes on a pay-per-fly basis. Typically airlines want their jets in the skies making money, but with such models, not flying a plane is less of an issue for carriers. In addition to the models becoming available to low-cost airlines, such airlines have also been able to lock in attractive lease rates.

Speaking to Simple Flying earlier this year, Birgir Jonsson, CEO of the Icelandic startup PLAY, commented,

“It’s all about price. We have to offer the best price. And in order to be able to offer the best price, you have to have the lowest cost… We have a lot of flexibility, especially now, at the beginning of our operation, to basically control the way we put our supply into the market based on power by the hour negotiations or terms.”

While one of the only low-cost long-haul airlines to have begun flights since the start of the pandemic, PLAY is not alone. Next year, Norse Atlantic Airways intends to launch transatlantic services filling the gap left by Norwegian. Meanwhile, flypop plans to fly east, launching flights from London Stansted to India.

Hear more from the low-cost long-haul leaders

If you want to hear more from aviation’s decision-makers, Simple Flying has the event for you. Next month the Future Flying Forum will be held on November 10th and 11th. Tickets to attend the two-day event are free, so why not register now.

David Neeleman, Breeze Airways, Future Flying Forum
Grab your free boarding pass for the event now!

There will be something for everybody from keynote interviews to breakout discussions and even a daily Simple Flying avgeek quiz. If you’re interested in the future of low-cost long-haul flying, we even have a panel just for you. In a session moderated by AviaDev Europe’s Juraj Toth, Birgir Jonsson will be joined by Bjørn Tore Larsen, the CEO of Norse Atlantic Airways, to discuss,

Can low-cost long-haul ever really work?


The two-day event is free to register and attend, so why not secure your Future Flying Forum boarding pass now?