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AirlineGeeks Year in Review: 2021

Undoubtedly, 2021 was another historic year for the aviation industry. On a global scale, airlines continued to fly through turbulent times as the Covid-19 pandemic dragged on and new variants arose. With vaccine availability increasing around the world, the industry slowly blossomed: countries loosened restrictions, opened borders and once again welcomed travel. In the U.S., this summer marked a unique recovery with unprecedented leisure travel demand as wide-body jets found a new niche whisking passengers around the U.S., and new airlines began operations on both coasts.

As we fly into a new and promising year for the aviation industry, let’s take a moment to look back at some of this year’s biggest headlines. The articles below are listed in chronological order and relevant articles may be linked in each header.

Several U.S. Carriers Grow During the Pandemic

2021 began with a promising outlook as multiple airlines reported growth despite the onset of the pandemic. Both Sun Country and Allegiant expanded their fleet to support new ventures such as cargo flying.

Boeing Delays 777X Entry into Service

A Boeing 777X at the Dubai Airshow. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

After posting a $11.94 billion loss for 2020, Boeing announced a launch delay for its new 777X jet. After the delay was announced, the FAA also sent a letter to the manufacturer in June clarifying that the manufacturer will likely not receive certification until mid to late 2023.

Boeing Secures Additional 737 MAX Orders

A Southwest 737 MAX 8 over the threshold in Las Vegas. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

After receiving the green light to re-enter commercial service in the U.S. in Nov. 2020, the Boeing 737 MAX received a major vote of confidence when Southwest topped its previous order for 100 additional jets. The airline now has 380 MAX aircraft on order.

Several Airlines Leverage Pandemic to Enter Heathrow

While slots at U.K.’s busiest airport are very hard to come by during a normal year, the pandemic opened opportunities for new airlines to enter the market. JetBlue has successfully secured an extension of its slots at Heathrow until at least fall of 2022.

While Most 747s Are Retired, One Special Jet Returned to the Skies in 2021

In a year when multiple airlines expedited the retirement of its 747s, one unique 747-300 made an unexpected return to the skies. After over five years of work, a heavy C-check and with two engines replaced through the cannibalization of EP-MND, a retired Boeing 747-300 also previously owned and operated by Mahan Air, the aircraft was able to return to service.

Avelo Airlines Begins Operations Ahead of Busy Summer

Boarding Avelo’s first ever commercial flight in Burbank. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Taylor Rains)

Avelo was the first of three new airlines to take off in the U.S. in 2021. Since commencing operations in Burbank, Calif., the airline has also added an east coast base. Just a few weeks later, Breeze Airways operated its first flight from Tampa, Fla. The airline has since added its first Airbus A220 to its fleet and announced additional destinations for 2022. Aha! Airlines — the reincarnation of ExpressJet — began operations from Reno, Nev. in late 2021.

Airbus Posts First Pandemic Profit

The European aircraft manufacturing giant said in a statement that it booked a bottom-line net profit of $440 million during the January to March period, compared with a loss of $581 million from the previous year. The manufacturer received orders for 906 jets in 2021 — outpacing Boeing by 58 orders.

Ryanair Flight Redirected by Belarusian Government

Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair found itself in the middle of an international political incident when one of its flights was forced to divert to a foreign capital, and one of its passengers was apprehended by law enforcement.

Qatar Airways Grounds Multiple A350s

Qatar Airways A350-900 A7-AMF touching down on runway 25L at Brandenburg Airport (Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

At the request of Qatar’s aviation regulators, the nation’s flag carrier has grounded 21 Airbus A350 jets. The airline recently sued Airbus as the dispute between the two companies continues.

United Plans for Supersonic Travel

United Airlines and start-up company Boom Supersonic announced an agreement for up to 50 supersonic aircraft to be delivered from 2029. The airline also made headlines this year when it announced an order for 270 narrow-body jets as well as an investment in Heart Aerospace’s electric aircraft.

Boeing 737 MAX 10 Completes Maiden Flight

Boeing’s first 737 MAX 10 arriving after an initial test flight (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

The Boeing 737 MAX 10 is the largest version of the latest type of the Boeing 737 family. Boeing touts the MAX 10 to offer up to 204 seats in two-class configurations and 230 seats in a single class. The aircraft offers the shortest range of the family at 3,300 nautical miles but has the largest length at 143 feet, 8 inches.

U.S. Orders Airlines to Assist in Afghanistan Evacuation

The Secretary of Defense officially ordered the third activation in the history of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet — utilizing Stage 1 of its operations. Previously, the Civil Reserve Air Fleet served in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm from August 1990 to May 1991 and Operation Iraqi Freedom from February 2002 to June 2003. The program was launched after the Berlin Airlift, which took place in the late-1940s.

Italy’s New Flag Carrier Takes Flight

Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA) succeeded Alitalia as Italy’s flag carrier with a fresh balance sheet, 52 aircraft from its predecessor and 2,800 employees on Oct. 15.

Alaska Airlines Announces Development of Hydrogen Engine

The new engine will be installed on a De Havilland Q400, operated by Alaska’s wholly-owned subsidiary Horizon Air. Alaska and ZeroAvia will work together to modify one of ZeroAvia’s existing powertrains to a new ZA2000 engine family that will be able to produce between 2,000-5,000 kilowatts of power.

Maskless Travel Slowly Returning Around the World

An SAS A320 in Oslo. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

The move was followed by other local carriers Norwegian, Flyr and Widerøe, the latter two of which have route networks that are much more heavily concentrated within the Nordic countries. In the U.S., the TSA has extended its mask mandate through March 18, 2022.

Play Takes Flight, Restores Competitive Field Left by WOW Air

Play is bringing competition back to Iceland after the closure of WOW Air. The airline commenced flights in June and will begin flights to the U.S. this year. Play’s first U.S. destinations will be Baltimore/Washington International Airport and Boston.

Emirates Takes Delivery of Final Airbus A380

Emirates’ final Airbus A380 delivery. (Photo: Emirates)

As the year came to a close, Airbus also delivered the 251st and final A380 to Emirates. The end of 2021 also marked the return of the A380 back into the skies for multiple airlines including British Airways, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways.

AirlineGeeks 2021 Review

2021 was another significant year for AirlineGeeks.com. We welcomed readers from 235 countries to our website. Internally, we grew our team with eight new writers based in countries around the globe including Australia, China, Indonesia, Italy and Singapore. As the site continues to grow, we are continuing to recruit for various positions. Additionally, we hosted multiple webinars including a unique discussion with Honeywell’s chief pilot.

As we take off into 2022, we look forward to expanding our global coverage of the aviation industry and look forward to hosting several exciting events for our readers.

Most importantly, we would like to thank all of our readers for your continued support, and we can’t wait to show you what we have in store for the future.

While there were many unique stories to hear this year, the following list includes some of our favorite exclusives that we posted in 2021.

Sun Country Using Proven Model to Forge New Trails

Inside Advance Air – The Do It All Airline

Hawaiian CEO Talks New Route, Future U.S. Growth

How Martin Gauss is Leading AirBaltic Through Trying Times

Inside Victorville Airport, 400 Airliners Face an Uncertain Future

Mateen Kontoravdis


  • Mateen Kontoravdis

    Mateen has been interested in aviation from a very young age. He got his first model airplane at six and has been airplane spotting since he was nine years old. He has always had a passion for aviation and loves learning about different aspects within the industry. In addition to writing for AirlineGeeks, Mateen is also an editor for his high school’s newspaper. You can also find him on Instagram (@Plane.Photos) where he enjoys sharing his aviation photography with thousands of people everyday.

    View all posts

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