Startup Sky Alps Starts Flights Following Short Delay

Following a few initial hiccups, the Italian regional leisure startup airline Sky Alps began commercial operations on June 17, 2021. The airline’s initial launch date was delayed by five days due to the late delivery of the first of two leased De Havilland Dash 8-400s from Canadian lessor Chorus Aviation. Because Sky Alps is not certificated, the aircraft will be operated on the Italian’s behalf by Maltese private air charter company Luxwing.

Sky Alps Dash 8-400
Luxwing will be operating the flights on behalf of Sky Alps. Photo: Sky Alps

Aviation data website ch-aviation says that the delay was due to a bureaucratic hold-up involving the aircraft’s registration in Malta and the issuance of documents needed for the aircraft to commence commercial service.

The second aircraft is expected to arrive from Malta in the coming days. The two aircraft registered as G-ECOK and G-ECOO are both just over 12 years old and were previously operated by now-defunct British short-haul specialist Flybe.

Other airlines tried flying from Bolzano

Sky Alps is a subsidiary of Italian renewable energy firm Fri-El Green Power. The company also has the management contract for Bolzano – Dolomiti Airport (BZO), where the two aircraft will be based.

Located in the Province of South Tyrol in Northern Italy, Bolzano is a city in the Italian Alps, home to around 107,000 people. Other than its tiny airport, the two closest airports of any size are Verona Villafranca Airport (VRN) which is 155 kilometers (96 miles), and Innsbruck Airport (INN) in Austria, which is 122 kilometers (75 miles) away.

Since BZO was modernized in 1999, several airlines have tried to establish air connections from Bolzano. Austria’s Tyrolean Airways was the first to try offering flights between Bolzano, Rome, and Frankfurt. Unfortunately, both routes were unprofitable, and the Innsbruck-based carrier pulled out.

In 2013 another Austrian airline, Air Alps, tried and failed, as did Switzerland’s Darwin Airlines, with its attempt to connect the Alpine city with Rome.

Over the past couple of years, charter flights operated by Austrian Airlines to resort destinations in Southern Italy have seen promise, which is perhaps why Sky Alps thinks they can make a go of it.

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Sky Alps has six destinations from BZO

Just like Austrian Airways, Sky Alps will be using Dash 8-400s on its routes to the following destinations:

  • Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport (OLB)
  • Rome–Fiumicino International Airport (FCO)
  • Parma Airport (PMF)
  • Düsseldorf International Airport (DUS)
  • Berlin Brandenburg Airport Willy Brandt (BER)
  • Ibiza Airport (IBZ)
Startup Sky Alps Starts Flights Following Short Delay
Several flights will make a stopover in Palma. Image: GCmaps

Calling themselves “The Ambassador of the Alps,” Sky Alps hope to succeed as a leisure-based airline with its summer flights to Sardina and the Spanish Balearic Island of Ibiza. The flights to Rome make sense as it is the Italian capital. However, the ones to Germany are a bit of a head-scratcher until you realize that most people regard German as being their first language in this part of Italy.

The flights will have a stopover at PMF

Besides being a foodie heaven with its famous prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano–Reggiano cheese, Palma seems like a strange city for a flight originating in Bolzano. However, looking at the Sky Alps route map, we see that the airlines’ flights to Sardina, Ibiza, and Rome all make a stopover in Palma. Sky Alps’ first flight to Ibiza also stopped in Sardinia, which we will look into to see if it was a one-off or if they plan to stop at OLB before going on to IBZ.

Sky Alps Dash-8
Bolzano is the gateway to the Dolomites. Photo: Sky Alps

During the winter, the flights to Sardina and Italy will be dropped while Sky Alps looks to bring winter sports enthusiasts to the Italian Alps. Regarded as being the gateway to the Dolomites, Bolzano has 42 ski areas within an hour’s drive that include the popular resorts of Val Gardena, Selva -Sella Ronda, and Alta Badia.

Do you think that Sky Alps will be able to succeed where others have failed? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.