Sunday 18 August 2019

CityJet's Air Antwerp venture cleared for take-off

Taking flight: CityJet-backed Air Antwerp is set to begin flying to London City Airport. Photo: Bloomberg
Taking flight: CityJet-backed Air Antwerp is set to begin flying to London City Airport. Photo: Bloomberg
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

AIR Antwerp, a small startup venture between Dublin-based carrier CityJet and KLM, has secured its air operator's certificate from Belgian authorities, and will begin flights between Antwerp and London City Airport next month.

CityJet owns 75pc of the venture, with KLM owning the remainder.

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It is using a Fokker 50 turboprop aircraft to operate what will be a four-day-a-week service between the two cities.

Three of the return flights will operate during the working week, and one on a Sunday. KLM is a codeshare partner for the route.

CityJet, which is majority owned by leasing specialist Falko, no longer operates flights under its own livery.

They ceased last year after it inked an agreement with Aer Lingus to operate its Dublin-London City route under the latter's livery.

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

It was the first time an Aer Lingus-branded aircraft had operated on the route in more than a decade. The CityJet brand had been used around Europe since 1993, when the airline was founded by executive chairman Pat Byrne.

CityJet's business is now entirely focused on providing ACMI and wet lease services.

It has a fleet of 25 Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft and 13 Avro RJ86 jets.

The Avros are used by CityJet on its wet lease contracts with Air France, operating from Paris Charles de Gaulle and on the Aer Lingus route between Dublin and London City.

The CRJ900 fleet is operated on behalf of Scandinavian airline SAS. CityJet operates regional services for SAS out of cities including Stockholm, Copenhagen and Helsinki.

Last year, CityJet and Spain's Air Nostrum signed a heads of agreement to jointly operate under a new holding company.

Last month, the European Commission (EC) approved the merger between the two companies, in a deal that will see the Spanish airline being the majority shareholder in the new carrier group.

"The commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns, because the companies have moderate market shares, a sufficient number of competitors remains on the market, and the barriers to entry are low," said the EC's competition watchdog.

The venture will be Europe's biggest regional airline group.

Irish Independent

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