Fly Nonstop...literally: some thoughts on virtual airlines

A Flynonstop Embraer E190 landing at Barcelona airport

A Flynonstop Embraer E190 landing at Barcelona airport

As a regular follower of the airline industry it is not very often that I come across an airline I haven't heard about before, but this is what happened last weekend.

 I hope you don't take it into account if I confess that I did not know anything about Norwegian carrier "FlyNostop" . Actually they have painted the livery of their only Embraer E190 in a way that, had I known them before, would have got them added to my own list of the World's 20 most colourful airlines (I think the guys at Skift would agree on this one!). 

FlyNonstop is actually a "virtual" airline, since they do not have an air operator certificate, they can not market themselves as an airline so, to speak properly they must be called a "travel operator". They take care of distribution and marketing (selling tickets and developing their brand), but the actual flying is and their single-aircraft fleet is outsourced to Dutch carrier Denim Air.

Another particularity of FlyNonstop is that it was launched to serve a very narrow geographical niche: the city of Kristiansand, in Southern Norway, although it has since started to fly from Alesund, also in Norway.

All of this takes me to the topic of virtual airlines: mobile virtual network operators in telecoms and white label products at supermarkets enjoy massive success, however the "virtual airline" concept is much less developed, at least when it comes to branding and public perception (there is a fair amount of wet leasing in the industry but travelers are often unaware). For example, there is the recent case in Spain of virtual airline called Pyrenair, that was also conceived to serve a very specific market, the small airport of Huesca, currently without traffic after this airline's demise. ..but I think virtual airlines are an interesting enough topic to deserve a blog post of its own...

In the meantime, planespotters get ready, if FlyNonstop flies to an airport near you, it should be easy to spot from the distance!