Moov Airways (Basel/Mulhouse/Freiburg, CH) is planning to take delivery of its first turboprops for its regional operations out of Lugano by early 2022, ahead of a forecasted launch of long-haul low-cost services with A321-200NY(XLR)s in 2023, Chief Executive Alvaro Nogueira de Oliveira told Routes Online in an interview.

"We aim to get [the funding] done in 2021, receive the first airplanes by late 2021, early 2022, and be ready to fly in winter 2022," Oliveira said.

The start-up is one of the bidders in the ongoing tender for the operation of Lugano airport. It signed a Memorandum of Understanding with India's SKN Haryana City Gas to jointly develop the airport in southern, Italian-speaking canton of Ticino. Lugano has not seen scheduled passenger traffic since the bankruptcy of Adria Airways (Ljubljana) in September 2019, and currently caters exclusively to general aviation.

For Moov Airways, the opportunity to launch regional operations out of Lugano would be the first step in its development strategy. Oliveira said the start-up would add an undisclosed number of turboprops to operate via a low-cost carrier model.

"We have studied the market in much detail. There is a very rich market in the Ticino region flowing through either Milan Malpensa or Zurich; there is no other option for them since Swiss (LX, Zurich) stopped flying to and from Lugano about two years ago [after the bankruptcy of wet-lessor Adria]," Oliveira explained.

Besides Lugano, the start-up will base the turboprops out of other cities to build a regional network encompassing 19 destinations, which could later be turned into a feeder network for its long-haul services. Moov Airways plans to launch transatlantic and other long-haul operations connecting second-tier cities in 2023. It also plans to operate routes that do not transit Switzerland.

"Our model is narrowbody airplanes serving point-to-point secondary markets in Europe to destinations in the US, Canada, the Caribbean, South America, Africa, the Middle East, even India. If you put the airport you want to operate in Europe in the centre, and you draw an arc of the new A321neo(XLR) range, then we have a menu of markets to be served," Oliveira said.

He added that the expected consolidation of reduced demand at a few hubs after the COVID-19 pandemic would open more opportunities to serve thinner routes with fuel-efficient, long-range narrowbodies.

However, the execution of the plan remains contingent on the start-up securing sufficient financing. In 2018, Moov Airways - then known as Swiss Skies - failed to raise CHF100 million Swiss francs (USD111.5 million).

"We have developed a strategy to run a security token offering (STO), which is a new way of fund your business or startup, which in simple terms is an advanced IPO. We are already running the first stages of it. Unfortunately, I cannot give you any more details because of restrictions from the financial authority," Oliveira said.

Moov Airways has no commitments with lessors or manufacturers but Oliveira said the availability of aircraft was sufficient enought to permit the start-up's launch.