Airbahn: New SoCal-Based US Airline Startup

There are three airline startups that have launched in the United States in the last few months. I first wrote about this airline a year ago, and thought it was worth following up, especially in light of the other startup that we have seen.

The basics of Airbahn.

Airbahn was founded in February of last year. Airblue is Pakistan's second largest airline and has a fleet of nine A320-family aircraft.

The airline requested permission to launch operations from the DOT in October. The carrier's plans were as follows at the time, but some details have changed.

Initially, the airline will operate flights from Southern California to Northern California, Nevada, and Western Canada.
Long Beach Airport or the Orange County Airport will be the base of Airbahn.
Every day, all planes and crews will return to the base.
Airbahn will have two planes within a year and will lease A320s from Airblue.
The A320s will have 174 seats each, in a one class configuration.

In October 2020, the DOT issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity for air transportation. This will allow the airline to move people, property, and mail within the United States and beyond.

Airbahn is the first to take delivery of an A320.

Airbahn just took delivery of its first A320 in the US. The plane has a registration code. On November 20 the plane flew from Istanbul to Keflavik, and on November 21 it flew from Bangor to Ontario.

The first plane was 12 years old when it entered service. This plane used to fly for Airblue and had the registration code AP-EDA. The plane flew from Karachi to Istanbul on November 30, 2020, and spent almost a year in Istanbul being prepared to fly for Airbahn.

Airbahn has the first A320.

Airbahn is looking for staff in California.

The delivery of Airbahn's first plane in the United States and the fact that the airline is hiring for many positions gives us a sense of what destinations the airline could serve.

The headquarters of Airbahn will be located in Irvine, since the carrier is hiring for management roles there.
The airports that Airbahn plans to serve are Oakland, Sacramento, and San Jose.
Airbahn is hiring for flight attendants and maintenance personnel in Ontario, so it seems likely that the airline could primarily be based there; while the carrier's plan was to be based out of Long Beach or Orange County, those airports are slot restricted, which probably explains why Ontario is in.

My thoughts on Airbahn.

The airline's details are still limited. Airline executives are suggesting that operations are about to start. We can piece together some details based on where the airline is hiring from the DOT filing.

The airline has filed with the DOT for permission to launch flights, it has already taken delivery of a plane, and there is someone with airline experience behind it. It is more legitimate than the other airlines.

It seems that the airline might initially operate flights from Ontario to Oakland, Sacramento, and San Jose. Southwest already serves those routes. It seems like launching a new carrier would be impossible.

The person behind the airline has airline experience, but I don't think he has a good understanding of the market in the United States. Avelo Air is run by a former Allegiant Air and United Airlines executive, and Breeze Airways is run by the founder of JetBlue.

I don't think the current plan will gain traction, but it looks like this airline will become a reality.

Airbahn is an airline startup in the United States that plans to operate out of Southern California, to destinations in California, Nevada, and Western Canada. The airline will get two A320s from Airblue. The first of those planes has just arrived in the United States, and is painted in full Airbahn livery.

It would appear that the airline may be based in Ontario, and that it will operate routes to Oakland, Sacramento, and San Jose, all of which are also operated by Southwest. I am skeptical about the viability of that business model.

Will Airbahn become a reality?


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