CityJet open to additional regional acquisitions if part of a legacy flying contract

Irish regional carrier CityJet has ambitions to become the leading Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance (ACMI) provider in Europe as it seeks to carve out a sustainable operating niche in the continent’s competitive airline market. Although still flying its own scheduled operations, Pat Byrne, executive chairman and chief executive officer of the carrier, confirms to The Blue Swan Daily that an increasing focus will be placed on third party flying as it adapts the popular capacity purchase agreement (CPA) from North America to work effectively within the European market.

In the past year CityJet has acquired Cimber Air, the Copenhagen-based subsidiary of SAS Scandinavian Airlines and has won a major six year wet lease contract from the Scandinavian flag carrier, an existing partner, to operate regional services from the Danish capital with an expanded fleet of Bombardier CRJ900s. It has already flown for a long time for Air France, but is now also providing aircraft for both Brussels Airlines and KLM.

“We are always in acquisitive mode. Not because we like making acquisitions, but because we actually have a plan to become the dominant wet lease provider in Europe,” Mr Byrne told The Blue Swan Daily on the sidelines of the CAPA-ACTE Global Summit in London last month. “We are effectively looking to build the European version of the North American model.”

However, he noted that it is not a case of buying a regional airline to build scale, but if it has direct business benefits in terms of expanding contract flying. “Acquisitions happen as part of a grand plan as opposed to a pursuit in its own right,” he said.

“If that involves taking on or acquiring an existing regional airline that may be a subsidiary of a major, if we are getting a wet lease contract with them then we may make the acquisition. Outside of that no we won’t,” he added.

WATCH our EXCLUSIVE CAPA TV video interview with Mr Byrne where he outlines more about third part flying; its reduction in own branded operations, especially at London City; how CityJet’s Sukhoi SSJ100 SuperJet will likely remain in the lease and charter markets until approved for the Docklands airport (probably from 2019) to return to regular scheduled flying; retirement plans for its long-standing Avro RJ fleet and more.