Wednesday 21 August 2019

CityJet in talks to extend Air France deal as it adds Brussels Airlines jet

CityJet chairman Pat Byrne
CityJet chairman Pat Byrne
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

CityJet is in talks with Air France to extend an existing agreement to operate flights out of Paris on behalf of the larger carrier, according to CityJet executive chairman Pat Byrne.

An existing agreement to operate six routes from Paris for Air France, including one to Dublin, expires next March.

But Mr Byrne told the Irish Independent that the talks with Air France on extending the arrangement are progressing well.

Dublin-based CityJet serves Dublin, Dusseldorf, Newcastle, Stuttgart, Turin and Hanover from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, where it has four aircraft. "I'd hope there will be another extension," said Mr Byrne, who added that CityJet had previously secured an extension to the deal up to the end of March next year.

Air France acquired full ownership of CityJet, which was founded by Mr Byrne, in 2000. Air France sold it in 2013 to Germany's Intro Aviation, which in turn sold it to Mr Byrne and investors in 2016.

Mr Byrne said that within the past two weeks, CityJet has also added a fourth jet to its wet leasing service for Brussels Airlines, part of the Lufthansa group, boosting the number deployed there to four.

CityJet signed an initial deal with Brussels Airlines earlier this year and began operating flights for the carrier in April. The jets in use by CityJet at Brussels Airlines are Sukhoi SuperJets.

Mr Byrne said the aircraft had been well received by customers and Brussels Airlines, prompting the deployment of the fourth Sukhoi with the carrier. CityJet currently has six Sukhois in its fleet.

He said that the certification process for the Sukhoi SuperJet for use at London City Airport continues.

The aircraft's winglets have already been redesigned in order to help slow it on approach, allowing it to land with a greater weight on board, he explained.

Mr Byrne said he expects that certification will be secured for use at London City towards the end of 2019, allowing CityJet to use the jet there that year or by 2020.

CityJet posted a €30.2m loss last year due to exceptional costs. Its loss from operations was €1.8m. Revenue hit €198.2m in 2016 and is expected to be €276m this year. The airline is increasingly focused on generating more revenue from wet leasing activity than from scheduled operations.

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