Thursday 18 April 2019

End of an era for CityJet as it signs London City deal with Aer Lingus

CityJet CEO Pat Byrne (left) and Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh at the announcement of their partnership on the London route
CityJet CEO Pat Byrne (left) and Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh at the announcement of their partnership on the London route
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The Aer Lingus brand will return to the Dublin-London City Airport route for the first time in more than a decade after the airline signed an agreement with CityJet.

The smaller airline will now operate a service on Aer Lingus's behalf on the route, meaning the CityJet brand will no longer be used in Europe, a first since its foundation in 1993.

The agreement also leaves Aer Lingus and sister company British Airways - both owned by IAG - as the only carriers on the Dublin-London City route.

Dublin-based CityJet will operate the service using two of its aging Avro RJ85 jets, which will be painted in Aer Lingus livery.

CityJet's newer Sukhoi aircraft are not yet certified to operate at London City Airport.

The service will be operated on an ACMI basis, where CityJet provides the aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance.

Aer Lingus shoulders the financial risk, however. That's unlike the franchise arrangement between Aer Lingus and Stobart Air, where the latter shoulders the risk and pays a fee to Aer Lingus.

The agreement is a significant coup for CityJet, founded and headed by Pat Byrne.

He has previously said that he's interested in pitching for the Aer Lingus Regional franchise contract when it eventually comes up for tender.

The deal will also mean CityJet will be able to retire its own booking engine, as all bookings will now be made through partner airlines' websites, including SAS, Air France, KLM and Brussels Airlines. That should result in significant savings at CityJet.

The airline might also generate other cost savings, as some other functions may also no longer be requied.

The Aer Lingus service operated by CityJet will commence on October 28. It will offer six return flights every week day, five on a Sunday and one return service on a Saturday.

"In recent years CityJet has transitioned from being an airline serving scheduled markets under its own brand to becoming a provider of capacity to customer airlines throughout Europe," the airline told passengers on its website yesterday. "Today CityJet announced that, effective from October 27, it will no longer operate scheduled services marketed under its own brand."

In July, CityJet agreed to merge with Spanish carrier Air Nostrum to create what they said will be Europe's biggest regional airline group.

The merged businesses will have a combined fleet of close to 100 aircraft, and annual revenues approaching €700m.

Air Nostrum is controlled by building materials group Nefinsa and Spanish bank Caja Duero. CityJet is controlled by aircraft leasing group Falko.

Irish Independent

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