Fearful of a protracted drop in visitor numbers to the Canary Islands, a group of hoteliers on Tenerife have announced a plan to start their own, as yet unnamed, airline.

Flights will begin this winter season, the group of more than a dozen entrepreneurs said in a statement posted on the website of the local hotel association (Asociación Hotelera y Extrahotelera de Tenerife, La Palma, Gomera y Hierro - Ashotel) on June 27.

The group has had “the permanent aeronautical advice of One Airways, which will be the air operator of the project,” the statement said. The hoteliers have acquired their first aircraft, an A320 purchased from Atlantic Airways (RC, Vágar), association president Jorge Marichal told Canarian Weekly.

According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, Atlantic operates one A320-200, OY-RCJ (msn 7465), which is currently deployed on the airline’s 14x weekly route between Vágar and Copenhagen Kastrup. It also has one A319-100 and two A320-200neo. Atlantic Airways CEO Jóhanna á Bergi told ch-aviation last October that the Faroese carrier was targeting an A320neo-only fleet by the first half of 2024, operating four or five of the type.

The new Canaries-based airline aims to guarantee air connectivity in the archipelago, which the coronavirus crisis recently threw into jeopardy. An “airline with a tour operator aspect” would “bring tourists from anywhere - anyone who wants to come will have the means to do so,” Marichal said.

The new carrier would promote connectivity primarily between the Canary Islands and the Spanish mainland but with the option of adding other European routes.

The association’s board of directors and assembly have ratified the creation of a private limited company (Sociedad Limitada - SL), which will involve entrepreneurs from the hotel sector initially from Tenerife but with a view to the participation of other islands. The project has the full support of the Canary Islands government, according to Marichal.

“This is an initiative that we have been defending as crucial for our destiny for years and to which we have dedicated many hours of work,” he claimed.

The bankruptcy of tour operator Thomas Cook Group last September was, in the words of the Ashotel statement, “a jug of cold water for the tourism sector of the islands, which highlighted the fragility of the destination, highly dependent on tour operation.”

“A crisis like this has had to come along, to open our eyes and make us realise that we need to be independent. Many airlines are about to fail. What will we do then if tourists don’t come? I think it is time, what’s more, I think there is no better time. There are stationary planes that airlines want to sell, fuel is cheap, and we will create jobs because there are a lot of unemployed pilots, flight attendants, and ground staff,” Marichal told Canarian Weekly.

As previously reported, charter specialist One Airways revealed in April that it was planning to set up a subsidiary in the Canary Islands, having already incorporated a new company in the archipelago to be based out of Tenerife Sur and to operate an A319-100 and a Cessna Aircraft Company business jet on passenger, cargo, and medevac charter flights.

On June 27, One Airways issued a statement saying: "We confirm that at the moment we are continuing to work according to our strategic development plan in the Canary Islands as a Spanish and Canaries airline company, and that we are registered in the Canary Islands Special Zone (ZEC) and in full harmony with the publication made today by Ashotel."

Editorial Comment: Added One Airways statement. - 01.07.2020 - 07:47 UTC