Byrne quits as Air France buys CityJet
By KATHLEEN BARRINGTON CITYJET founder Pat Byrne is to resign as chief executive following yesterday's takeover of the airline by Air France.
CITYJET founder Pat Byrne is to resign as chief executive following yesterday's takeover of the airline by Air France.
Mr Byrne is leaving the company he founded after seven turbulent years to set up two new businesses in the consultancy and e-commerce areas. However, Mr Byrne said he will remain as non-executive chairman of CityJet for two to three years.
CityJet announced yesterday that Air France had gained total control after buying out the 67pc of CityJet previously held by UK-based Air Foyle. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Air Foyle founder and chief executive Christopher Foyle said the terms were ``satisfactory.''
But other sources said Air Foyle was unlikely to have made a return on the £4m it paid for its stake in CityJet early last year.
Air France, which already held 33pc of CityJet, said the takeover was in keeping with its strategy of developing its feed to the Paris hub.
CityJet operates a fleet of eight aircraft, seven of which are engaged on Air France routes in Europe. It plans to add two new jets this year.
Mr Byrne said the investment by Air France secured the future of the company and its 320 employees. Mr Byrne quit Woodchester Bank to set up CityJet in 1993. But it went into examinership in 1996, emerging with the backing of Swedish airline Malmo. That relationship soured over disagreements about strategy.
Air Foyle and Air France then came on board, but Air Foyle decided to review its investment in CityJet late last year following a decision to concentrate on its cargo business.
Mr Byrne, who surrendered his shareholding in CityJet as part of the restructuring of his airline, said that his objective since then has been ``to get the ship in to a safe harbour.''
As well as his e-commerce plans, he is also setting up a strategic marketing consultancy called Rainmaker. Meanwhile, he predicted that Air France would continue CityJet's legal action against the government for alleged breach of EU procurement rules which he claims resulted in a £2.5m loss for CityJet.