Maastricht Airlines Delays Planned Launch

Netherlands regional start-up Maastricht Airlines has set May 1, 2013 as its revised launch date after deferring the start of operations due to the late arrival of its first aircraft and the knock-on delays this has caused in it completing the regulatory processes to secure its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC).  The business, backed by both the Municipality of Maastricht and Province of Limburg, has planned to begin operations from Maastricht Aachen Airport on March 25, 2013 using a fleet of two Fokker 50s and had already opened reservations for its initial flights.

“The process to get an AOC is very complex and receiving your first aircraft in time is a very crucial aspect, as without this the process cannot be completed.  Due to the four weeks delay in delivery of the first aircraft, the other processes have been delayed too,” explained Hamid Kerboua, Chief Executive Officer, Maastricht Airlines.  “We have looked at alternative solutions, but these did not guarantee a good service for our guests.  We have decided to go for the most-safe solution, and start operations on May 1 with our own fleet.”

Maastricht Airlines still plans to initially operate a daily service on the domestic route to Amsterdam with up to four flights every weekday, a six times weekly link to Berlin Tegel and twice weekday services to Munich.  However, with plans to expand its fleet to six aircraft by the end of 2014 it has ambitious plans to expand its network to also include Copenhagen, London and Paris. 

The list of destinations shows that the carrier’s main emphasis will be on the premium business market and it is confident of being able to develop sustainable operations despite the excellent ground transport infrastructure and competition from domestic and international airports that have much stronger competition.  “The main focus is business travel, as well as tourists looking to travel to other destinations from the Maastricht region,” said Marjolein Peerboom, Sales & Marketing Manager for the start-up carrier.

The southern Netherlands city of Maastricht, famous for being the birthplace of the European Union, is located in the south east of the country, close to the Belgian border and therefore many potential travellers in its vicinity can easily make use of alternative airports, including examples in Belgium and Germany.  Operations from the city’s Maastricht Aachen Airport, a popular cargo facility, are currently limited with Ryanair the only other year-round operator (Corendon Airlines and Transavia also provide seasonal services mainly serving the leisure markets of Greece and Turkey).

Maastricht Airlines will be firmly positioned as the number two carrier at Maastricht Aachen behind the Irish budget carrier, which now has a base at the airport.  All three of its initial destinations have been served previously from the facility although none are flown currently.

The Amsterdam route was a previous mainstay of national carrier KLM Royal Dutch Airlines which inherited the service in March 1991 route from NLM cityhopper. According to MIDT for 2008, approximately 8,000 bi-directional O&D passengers flew on the route that year with around 34,000 more transferring in Amsterdam to other services.  The two German routes have seen more limited operations from Maastricht.  The Bavarian city of Munich was linked to Maastricht by KLM Exel on behalf of its parent between May 2000 and May 2002.  The German capital, Berlin has been served directly from Maastricht by two low-cost carriers: easyJet offered flights between April 2005 and January 2007 and then Germanwings served the route from March 2011 and October 2012.

In the table below we highlight the ten largest O&D markets from Maastricht in 2012 according to MIDT data.  The majority of these markets are served by Ryanair, but interestingly, the number one destination in 2012 was proposed Maastricht Airlines destination, Berlin, which was served for the first ten months of the year by Germanwings.

ESTIMATED O&D DEMAND FROM MAASTRICHT AACHEN AIRPORT (bi-directional O&D passengers; 2012)

Rank

Destination

Estimated O&D Passengers

% Total O&D Demand

1

Berlin Schoenefeld (SXF)

42,959

11.7%

2

Alicante El Altet (ALC)

40,341

10.9 %

3

Girona Costa Brava (GRO)

37,339

10.1 %

4

Bergamo Orio al Serio (BGY)

36,032

9.8 %

5

Trapani Birgi (TPS)

32,229

8.7 %

6

Palma Son Sant Joan (PMI)

29,246

7.9 %

7

Pisa Galileo Galilei International (PSA)

24,449

6.6 %

8

Malaga Pablo Ruiz Picasso (AGP)

21,222

5.8 %

9

Faro (FAO)

19,788

5.4 %

10

Bari Palese (BRI)

19,536

5.3 %

TOTAL

368,713

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