Monday 23 April 2018

The Punt: CityJet hoping for blue skies

Christine Ourmieres, formerly of CityJet
Christine Ourmieres, formerly of CityJet

The Punt has been scratching its head at the goings-on at Dublin-based airline CityJet over the past few months.

The airline lost its chief executive Christine Ourmieres (pictured), and deputy boss Michael Collins within relatively quick succession - surprising since each owned a 7.5pc stake in the airline following its acquisition from Air France-KLM last year by Germany's Intro Aviation.

The Punt suspects that there may have been some issue over CityJet's direction, particularly in relation to its aircraft fleet.

Ourmieres had been keen on a fleet renewal programme for the airline to replace jets it operates that are expensive to run.

But that fleet renewal plan was put on the back burner in recent months, with CityJet having held on to its existing Avro jets.

Meanwhile, CityJet founder Pat Byrne has become the airline's executive chairman.

CityJet has also been hit by the arrival of competition on its key Dublin-London City Airport route.

IAG's British Airways is now a challenger.

FlyBe has pulled out of the route after just a few months.

In better news this week for CityJet, it said it's hiring new pilot cadets due to "increased demand" across its routes in Europe. It will train 22 new pilots this year.

"We currently employ 150 pilots but we require additional pilots to deal with our expanding route network and flight frequency," said Byrne.

Blue sky ahead, one hopes.

Craft beer: it's big in Shanghai

The Punt has always been fascinated with Dundalk-born billionaire Pearse Lyons whose animal nutrition behemoth made a €400m play for US animal nutrition company Ridley yesterday.

Kentucky-headquartered Alltech has real global ambitions and operations in 128 countries but one quirky side of this behemoth that gets little attention is Alltech's brewing business.

Not many people know that Alltech makes the top-selling craft beer in Shanghai.

Lyons also goes to some lengths here to promote Irish craft beers and he has regularly come home to support the company's quixotic craft beer festivals in Dublin's Convention Centre. Alltech has also rolled out an education scheme for potential craft brewers.

Of course, he's influenced by the stellar sales of craft beer in the US where Lyons spends most of his time. But the Punt likes to think that his attachment to craft beer may also reflect his childhood in Dundalk which was once home to a great brewing tradition and which is once again enjoying something of a renaissance.

Word to the wise

In the past few years economists at big banks have been almost as adept as start-up technologists at coining the kind of new words that are amusing the first time you hear them and then quickly become annoying.

We have had Brics - for fast growing economies Brazil, Russia,India and China, the PIGS - crisis hit Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain, and of course Grexit and Brexit.

The latter are terms coined to describe either a Greek exit - get it? - from the euro area, or a British exit from the European Union.

Citigroup economist Ebrahim Rahbari is credited with coming up "Grexit" and the same bank has now come up with "Grimbo" - Greek Limbo - to describe the potentially messy state of affairs the Mediterranean country Greece will be in if it does not get a new rescue deal from the rest of Europe but remains - adrift - within the euro area.

Don't worry, for anyone in love with the term Grexit, it is tipped as a likely outcome from any prolonged spell in Grimbo.

Irish Independent

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