Saturday 18 November 2017

Cityjet fleet set for a multi-million euro upgrade to become 'standalone' airline

Passengers queue to board an aircraft operated by CityJet at City Airport in London. Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Passengers queue to board an aircraft operated by CityJet at City Airport in London. Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

DUBLIN-BASED airline CityJet is to begin a multi-million euro fleet upgrade next year, after its takeover by Germany's Intro Aviation.

The chief executive of Intro Aviation, Peter Oncken, told the Irish Independent that he wants to position Cityjet as an "Irish-UK standalone airline and go from there".

He declined to be drawn on whether Intro Aviation will go beyond fleet renewal and expand the Dublin operation.

Cityjet currently operates 19 jets, while its Belgian operation utilises 12 turboprop Fokker aircraft.

"We'll see," said Mr Oncken. "It depends on conditions. It depends on markets. It depends on many issues, but it is quite obvious that over the next years, Cityjet will have to grow. If an airline has to grow, it has to grow its fleet."

"We all know that fleet transition is one of the key issues over the next months in terms of decisions, because we have to modernise," he said of Cityjet.

Air France-KLM recently agreed to sell loss-making Cityjet to Intro Aviation. Cityjet had been up for sale for two years and was no longer deemed an integral part of its parent's business model. The sale to Intro Aviation will formally close at the end of this month.

Speaking to the Irish Independent at the CAPA international aviation conference in Co Wicklow, Cityjet boss, Christine Ourmieres-Widener, said she welcomed the end to what had been a period of uncertainty for the airline.

"We are so happy. It's a relief to us to be able to announce it to our team. People have been asking a lot of questions about where are we going and what is our vision," she said.

"It's a process that overall took two years. That's very long, but we are very happy to see that ending," she added.

Cityjet made a €209m loss in 2012 – with €185m of it accounted for by redundancy costs and exceptional items. It generated revenue of €260m that year.

Air France has provided considerable financial support to the operation. The Cityjet CEO said that a lot of work had been done at the carrier that had not yet filtered through to the bottom line, including having renegotiated all its contracts.

"We have been remodelling our network in London City, changing they aircraft type, changing the schedule frequency," she said.

Ms Ourmieres-Widener said she was optimistic for Cityjet's future, and that its revenue line would benefit from the airline being "more diverse" in the way it sold its product.

Mr Oncken was reluctant to predict what type of cash injection Cityjet may require in the future.

"An investment at some point in time will be necessary, but let's do our job first, let's build Cityjet."

Irish Independent

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