Aer Arann creating 50 jobs this year
Aer Arann is eyeing up franchise agreements with other airlines – in Europe and further afield – as it seeks to boost its passenger numbers to two million by 2018 and become one of Europe's leading regional airlines by 2015.
Aer Arann currently operates all its flights under the Aer Lingus Regional brand under a franchise deal it has with the larger carrier.
But Aer Arann interim chief executive Sean Brogan said that the airline is hoping to ink similar contracts with other airlines. He also said Aer Arann is on track to be profitable again by next year.
"It's definitely on the cards for us into the future," he said, speaking at the unveiling of a new company aircraft at Dublin Airport, which was attended by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar.
"Expansion in our business will come from Aer Lingus Regional initially, but certainly then we'll look to future opportunities and they may be outside the Aer Lingus Regional franchise."
He said Aer Arann was attempting to create a "franchise flying" platform.
"That could take us anywhere. It's a global product. Once you've got the basics right, it should be something you can just plug and play."
Aer Arann has endured years of financial hardship, but its ownership and financial structure was radically overhauled before Christmas.
Aer Arann is 45pc-owned by UK logistics group Stobart, which also owns Southend Airport. Another 45pc is owned by Invesco Asset Management and 10pc by Cenkos Securities. Former chairman Padraig O'Ceidigh is no longer involved in the carrier.
"The airline is on its way back to running on a profitable basis. I would estimate that 2014 will see us back in profitability," said Mr Brogan.
Aer Arann said yesterday it will create 50 new jobs by the end of this year as it takes delivery of eight new aircraft under a €144m order with ATR.
"Our plan is to manage the introduction of the new fleet. We're constantly looking at new opportunities in terms of new routes and, as that is a moving feast, we're constantly looking at our fleet plan to service that," said Mr Brogan.
Aer Arann is hoping to carry 1.2 million passengers this year. About 100,000 of those are passengers transiting through Dublin either from the US or on their way to the US from the UK.
"That is a huge, growing market for us. We believe there's huge scope in that. We believe we're only scratching the surface. We have plans to continue driving that."