A startup airline wants to fill the void at Southend Airport, but will it ever launch?

May 13, 2021

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A new airline has revealed its ambitious plans to enter the U.K. aviation market at a time when carriers around the country have taken to scaling back services.

With the goal of replacing EasyJet’s former presence at Southend Airport, Atmosphere Airlines wants to offer an alternative to EasyJet for flyers from London. But will this new startup actually be able to take off?

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Atmosphere Airlines says it originally intended to open a base at London Stansted Airport and intended to focus on routes between the U.K. and Thailand — to and from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi and Utapao Rayong Pattaya International Airports. However, the airline’s CEO Jason Unsworth told the Echo it’s shifting those plans to first focus on short-haul routes.

Specifically, Unsworth said that the airline is “confident” of getting one route launched this summer. It’s eyeing Portugal as a destination, given the country’s green list designation from the U.K. government.

However, the major setback it’s facing is that Atmosphere doesn’t actually have any planes yet or have its offices opened at this time.

Unsworth said the airline plans to lease aircraft from both Euro Atlantic and Thai Airways. According to the company’s website, it plans to use Boeing 787 Dreamliners to handle long-haul routes, as well as 737-800 NG for shorter flights.

Atmosphere CEO Jason Unsworth told the Echo that he views Southend as an ideal launch point for the startup carrier, though it also plans to fly from Manchester (MAN) as well.

“Southend Airport is a great place to fly and trade from, there is a lot of demand and great train links to London,” Unsworth said. “If all goes well, we are looking at a base in two years time,”

Unsworth says he’s hopeful to be able to get Atmosphere set up at Stansted and flying international routes within two years time, but expects the airline to debut this summer with a flight out of Southend to Portugal, depending on travel restrictions.

EasyJet pulled out of Southend Airport last summer amidst the pandemic, a move that cost 30 workers their jobs. At the same time, the low-cost carrier also pulled bases out of London Stansted (STN) and Newcastle (NCL), though some flights still continue to operate from the airports.

Related: EasyJet plans to close 3 UK bases

According to the Atmosphere website, the company’s financial backing comes from a leading aviation COVID recovery fund. No other details about its financial situation could be found.

Whether or not Atmosphere Airlines comes to fruition is one thing. The timing of the launch comes at an especially precarious time for the aviation industry as airlines around the world struggle to cope with the long-lasting effects of the pandemic.

Featured photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg/Getty Images.

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