Private Airlines


In the “Aviation Blogs” topic of the “Notable Activity” forum, damiross noted that Spirit Airlines is a privately owned airline. That is, shares are not traded on the stock exchanges.

Google Finance reports on Spirit:
“Founded in 1969 by entrepreneur Ned Homfeld, Spirit began as a ground transportation company and expanded into charter flights. The airline provides scheduled and chartered passenger service to 15 destinations using a fleet of MD-80s, which it is replacing with Airbus jets. A cash infusion of $125 million from Oaktree Capital Management in 2004 will allow Spirit to expand its fleet; it also gives Oaktree a 51% stake in the airline.”

I know that Midwest Express was also originally a private airline.

“Midwest Airlines began life in 1948, when Kimberly-Clark Corporation began providing air transportation for company executives and engineers between the company’s Appleton headquarters and their mills.”

Can anyone add some other private airlines (no stock traded) to the list?


I believe Ryan International - the USA based charter airline, not Ryan Airlines based in Europe - is privately owned.


Colgan Air is family owned and operates as Continental Connection, United Express, and US Airways Express.


Thanks for the input, guys!

I ought to add another, a special situation:

When an airline goes Chapter XIII, the creditors negotiate their settlements in a federal bankruptcy court along with the employees and the shareholders (who are at the bottom of the food chain). The airline sometimes brings in a savior who has the money to settle claims and wants to take the company private (if the court agrees).

US Air went through this a couple of years back. In the process of taking the airline private (a capital restructuring), the common shares are cancelled. Shareholders lose 100% of their investment. The airline is then “privately owned”.

Then ‘reforms’ are made, which typically means cancelling union contracts and employee pensions, and debts are paid off at a percentage of their face value.

At that point, the private owners offer a minority share of the ownership in the form of an Initial Public Offering (IPO) and, once more, the airline is publicly traded. The new shareholders of course pay for the shares. That money goes to the provate owners who offered a portion of their stock. They make out like bandits, still are majority owners of the airline, and have recovered all their previous costs.

Everyone is happy (except the old shareholders who went down the tubes).

However, for the year or so between the cancellation of old shares and issuance of new shares in the IPO, US Air was a privately owned airline.

Other airlines that have emerged from Chapter XIII typically have had a period of private ownership. I’m thinking that Continental must have also gone through that.


Amerijet International cargo airline out of Miami is a private airline. They also offer the weightless flights.


I thought Diamandis had a “lock” on that with Zero-G.


Have no idea what you are talking about. Zero-G consisits of 2 aircarft operated by Amerijet. When they are not operating Zero G they are hauling freight. Amerijet is a private airline.


Did you click the link I provided?

You seem to be saying that Amerijet operates the aircraft that Zero-G uses for their vomit comet flights? I hadn’t realized that, I thought Zero-G had dedicated aircraft.

Makes perfect sense to utilize the aircraft in freight ops when they’re not busy turning stomachs.


Great I am with you now. Yes Amerijet does provide the aircraft for Zero-G. There is 2 and like I said they are still hauling freight when not G-ing it. They park directly below the control tower here at Miami.


Here’s one now.


At the risk of (gasp!) getting back on topic, Aloha Airlines is also privately owned.