By Winston Shek
New U.S. Startup Airbahn Eyes Launch In March 2022
Airbahn — one of the newest startup airlines in the United States — filed its first flights and announced its launch date, marking an important milestone in its startup plans. From March 1, 2022, Airbahn will launch flights from Ontario, Calif. to Oakland, Calif., as per TheAeroNetwork.
Its inaugural flight will depart from Ontario at 8:00 A.M. as UN100 on March 1, 2022, and arrive in Oakland at 10:00 A.M. On the return leg, Airbahn 101 will depart Oakland at 12:00 P.M. and arrive in Ontario at 2:00 P.M.
The flight between Ontario and Oakland sees one main competitor, Southwest Airlines. Currently, per schedule data for March 2022, the route is served by Southwest Airlines four times daily via its Boeing 737s. Indirectly, the flight between Ontario and the greater San Francisco Bay Area is connected via San Francisco on United Airlines and Frontier Airlines and San Jose on Southwest.
Airbahn intends to fly its Airbus A320 on the route, which features 174 seats in a full-economy class configuration, per its initial filing with the Department of Transportation (DOT) in 2018. Last week, the Irvine, Calif.-based carrier revealed that it received its first Airbus A320, a 12-year old bird with the registration N786PB, as part of its preparation for launch.
Tariq M. Chaudhary — the CEO of Airblue, Pakistan’s second-largest airline — launched Airbahn in 2018 as a venture. In an application to the DOT, the carrier revealed its plans to fly throughout the Western U.S., specifically from Los Angeles area airports like Orange County, Calif. or Long Beach, Calif. to destinations in northern California, Nevada and Western Canada such as San Jose, Calif.; Calgary, Canada and Las Vegas. In addition, the carrier revealed its plans to operate two Airbus A320-200s within its first 12 months, the second of which would be dry-leased, though it is unknown whether this plan has changed.
In the past two years, Airbahn has progressed towards its first flights. In October 2020, Airbahn received its’ Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Department of Transportation, granting it authority to carry passengers, property and mail. Airbahn is working on its 14 CFR FAA Part 121 Air Carrier Certification process, which if finished, would grant Airbahn the authority to operate scheduled air service. This procedure is scheduled for completion by the end of the year, pending any setbacks.
While not much is known about the airline’s plans since its initial filings in 2018, Airbahn’s job listings tease possible future destinations. On its website, the new startup airline lists station openings for Sacramento, Calif. and San Jose, Calif., hinting at possible future flights from Ontario to Sacramento and San Jose. In addition, Ontario looks to be its base in Southern California, replacing its previous plan to fly to Orange County in Santa Ana, Calif. or Long Beach, Calif.
Airbahn is not the only airline startup to launch service from California. In April 2021, Avelo Airlines announced its first base in Burbank, Cali. to eleven destinations in the Western U.S. Similarly to Airbahn, the airline operates flights to secondary airports or smaller destinations from a base in Southern California. In addition, Avelo Airlines announced its second base in New Haven, Conn. to multiple destinations in Florida.
Furthermore, two more U.S-based airline startups have sprouted out of the pandemic. David Neeleman — the founder of JetBlue and Azul Airlines — launched Breeze Airways, an airline with a sizeable point-to-point network on the East Coast, using a fleet of Embraer E190s. Like Avelo Airlines, Breeze Airways aims to connect underserved markets, and hopes to broaden its reach to transcontinental and international flights, due to its incoming Airbus A220.
Meanwhile, Aha!, formerly ExpressJet, launched flights out of its base in Reno using its fleet of Embraer E145 regional jet aircraft. It flies to a similar set of destinations as Avelo Airlines — primarily to smaller destinations on the West Coast.