Despite air travel being at a low compared to previous years thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, airlines continue to evolve their products and take on new aircraft.
In many cases their fleets are being revitalised with modern, fuel efficient aircraft types.
And this, in other cases, leaves some airlines becoming more interesting as it leaves them with older types that are hard to fly on anywhere else.
Cathay Pacific A321neo
With the demise of Cathay Dragon, parent Cathay Pacific has made its first move into narrowbody aircraft operations for decades by taking on the Airbus A321neo order made by Dragon. These smart looking aircraft are wearing Cathay Pacific livery and flying on regional routes out of Hong Kong.
Everyone is pleased the A380 has made somewhat of a comeback after things were looking bleak.
If you haven’t flown on one yet, surely the most interesting examples to try are the ‘Flying Honu’ A380s flown by All Nippon Airways.
Each wears a slightly different version of the giant sea turtle livery, and they are mostly used on the Tokyo to Honolulu route.
Very few operators of the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series of aircraft remain around the world. One that has drawn attention recently thanks to a few aviation YouTubers trying them out is TezJet in Kyrgyzstan. They fly a single example in a very smart livery on cheap domestic routes. So if you haven’t flown one yet, this might be an interesting place to try it!
Qatar Airways A380
This airline previously announced it was not bringing the Airbus A380 back to service, but has had a rethink following problems with its A350s being grounded, and a quicker-than-expected rise in demand. But this airline considers the A380 its biggest ever mistake, and I can only see this reactivation as a short-term thing.
So if you want to fly one, I’d go and do it soon before Qatar’s A380s are history.
The Comac ARJ21 regional airliner is a Chinese Douglas DC-9 lookalike which entered service a few years ago and so far is only really seen on domestic Chinese routes.
However, more airlines have been taking them on, including national carrier Air China, so they’re more common. Definitely an interesting type to add to your ‘flown on’ list!
One of America’s newest airlines, Breeze Airways recently took delivery of their first Airbus A220. Soon they’ll have a fleet packed full of them, replacing the older Embraer 190s and 195s that they started operations with in 2021.
The A220s look really smart in Breeze’s livery.
Air France A220
Similarly, over in Europe, Air France is the most recent carrier to start flying the A220.
This is not really anything new, but the type looks great in the Air France livery and will start taking over routes previously operated by A318 and A319 types.
JetBlue Transatlantic A321neo
JetBlue started flying transatlantic routes from New York JFK to both London Gatwick and Heathrow in 2021. It has plans to start routes out of Boston, and possibly cities like Paris, soon.
Their MINT onboard product is receiving rave reviews and, despite being a narrowbody, people are enjoying the brand-new A321neoLR aircraft on these longer-haul services.
The new Flybe is due to launch operations from Birmingham, UK, in the Spring.
Like the first incarnation, it will be using de Havilland Canada DHC-8-400 aircraft, with a slightly modified livery. But it will be interesting to see how they do things and how they differ from last time.
New Californian startup Airbahn aims to begin flying Airbus A320 aircraft out of Ontario Airport near Los Angeles to destinations around California and the West Coast in March 2022.
With so many new carriers starting up recently, it will be interesting to see whether this one makes a go of it, and what they’re like to fly.
SAS Link Embraer 195
Scandinavian Airlines is launching two new subsidiaries in 2022. One is SAS Connect, which will fly the A320neos of SAS Ireland.
The other is SAS Link, which will begin flying Embraer 195s on commuter and feeder services out of SAS’s hubs, much like KLM Cityhopper does out of Amsterdam.
aha! Embraer 145
The re-emergence of ExpressJet Airlines as aha! in 2021 was an interesting move, considering the airline was previously a feeder carrier for the big-name airlines in America.
Now, with its Embraer 145s, this leisure-oriented brand is bringing colour and style out of Reno-Tahoe airport in Nevada.
Ryanair 737 MAX
With deliveries now at full pace to airlines around the world, it seems the 737 MAX issues are finally over.
Ryanair, plus its subsidiaries Buzz and Malta Air, have begun taking delivery of the high-capacity MAX 8-200 variant at a steady pace. They will soon dominate European skies, so 2022 should probably be the year to take your first flight on one.
Whether you choose to take another one after that is up to you!
ITA Airways Airbus
Another one to try which doesn’t really depend on the aircraft type (they fly A319s, A320s and A330s) is ITA Airways – the new national carrier of Italy, following the closure of Alitalia.
At the moment most of the aircraft are still in Alitalia livery both externally and internally, so maybe you’ll want to wait till the blue scheme of ITA is applied. But this will be an interesting time to see whether Italy now has a well-functioning and managed airline to truly represent this great country.
Norse Atlantic Dreamliner
The new airline taking over from Norwegian on long-haul low-cost routes is Norse Atlantic Airways. It is planning to begin flying this spring out of Oslo, London Gatwick and Paris CDG to destinations in the USA initially.
Like Norwegian, they will use Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, with a smart new livery.
What are your plans for flying in 2022 (assuming Covid allows us!)? Do you have any aircraft or airlines you’re looking forward to trying? Leave a comment below.