Major Airlines that Declared Bankruptcy Due to Covid19

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the aviation industry in many ways due to the low profits by airlines, especially last year. In some cases, this leads the airline to have to file for bankruptcy. Today, we have compiled a list of major airlines that filed for bankruptcy due to this pandemic.

Air Italy

One of the first airlines to cease operations was Air Italy on February 11th 2020. Air Italy was one of the largest airlines in Italy, behind Alitalia. Following the announcement, Air Italy would gradually stop flights, with their last ones leaving on April 16th 2020.

Image of an Air Italy Boeing 737 MAX © Conde Nast Traveller


One of the more notable bankruptcies due to the pandemic was Flybe. It was one of the largest regional airlines in Europe, providing more than half of the United Kingdom’s domestic flights. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline was already struggling financially, and the virus was the last straw for them. The airline entered administration on March 5th 2020.

Major Airlines that have filed for bankruptcy due to covid19
Flybe Spirit of Exeter Fleet © Flybe

However, all doesn’t seem to be lost, with the airline is looking to restart operations this year under new ownership.

Virgin Australia

Another airline that was hugely impacted by the virus was Virgin Australia. Virgin Australia is one of the big names in Australian aviation, competing alongside Qantas. The airline initially launched Virgin Blue in 2000 and rebranded to Virgin Australia in 2011 due to high demand. However, on April 21st, 2020, the airline went into voluntary administration due to financial troubles. Despite in administration, Virgin Australia continues to operate routes.


The world’s second-oldest airline, Avianca, filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy on May 11th 2020 and suspended international flights.  This came as a shock as Avianca was one of the biggest airlines in Latin America. Earlier this month, on October 2nd 2021, the airline announced plans to merge with Chilean carrier, Sky Airline, to form a mega low-cost carrier by 2022.

Major Airlines that have filed for bankruptcy due to covid19
Avianca filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2020 © Wiki Commons

Thai Airways

61-year-old airline Thai Airways announced plans to restructure the company under a bankruptcy court after years of financial issues. However, the airline cannot formally announce its bankruptcy due to an objection by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. The airline continues to operate flights as per usual.

Virgin Atlantic

On August 4th 2020, Virgin Atlantic sought Chapter 15 Bankruptcy Protection due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline is still regularly operating its flights and likely not going to cease operations.

Major Airlines that have filed for bankruptcy due to covid19
Virgin Atlantic B747 taking off © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt


Italian airline Alitalia was the largest airline in Italy. However, due to financial difficulties, the airline filed for administration in 2017. After hanging by a thread for a few years, the airline decided to cease operations due to the virus. The airline’s last flight departed yesterday, October 15th, from Rome to Cagliari. Assets from the airline were transferred over to ITA Airways, the new flag carrier of Italy, as Alitalia and Air Italy had ceased operations. ITA Airways is fully owned by the Italian Government and started operations yesterday, alongside the end of operations for Alitalia.

Major Airlines that have filed for bankruptcy due to covid19
Alitalia © Gartano Spataro/Travel Radar

Philippine Airlines

Philippine flag carrier Philippine Airlines filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline filed for bankruptcy earlier this year on September 3rd 2021.

Which airline did you not expect to see on this list? Comment below.
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Sohail Sawlani
Sohail Sawlani
Aviation Reporter - Sohail is an avid aviation enthusiast and having been a previous Editorial Intern, is now an Aviation Reporter with Travel Radar. With a passion for Commercial Aviation and the machines behind the operations, he regularly contributes to the News & Analysis sections at Travel Radar. Outside of TR, he can be found on the Twitter realm as 'Planeopedia', posting about all things aviation!


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