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Irish regional carrier, CityJet, has confirmed it will close six of its routes from its largest operating base, London City Airport. The airline will end its domestic flights to Dundee and international services to Luxembourg, Munster/Osnabruck, Nuremberg, Paderborn and Pau in summer 2014 as it consolidates its network and looks at new business opportunities as it prepares to enter new ownership.
German company Intro Aviation GmbH has made a firm offer to buy CityJet and its subsidiary VLM, with the deal expected to be completed in the first few months of this year. Into Aviation already controls Austrian operator InterSky and there are suggestions that the two carriers will develop some form of cooperation should the takeover be completed and provide regional connections for business travellers in markets away from the big economic centres of Europe, where low-cost and flag carriers dominate.
The first stage of this is already apparent when CityJet revealed late last year that it was to commence operations from Cardiff Airport from January 20, 2014, initially continuing routes to Glasgow and Paris that are being closed by flybe this month and latterly adding flights to Edinburgh and Jersey from the start of the summer schedules in late March.
According to CityJet, the new schedule strategy for summer 2014 is focusing on strengthening the carrier’s core routes from London City Airport, with increased frequencies on key destinations, while opening a number of new routes from Cardiff Airport. “The increased capacity to existing destinations will strengthen the CityJet current network, and will provide additional connections to passengers flying on partner network hubs,” it claims.
The revised focus will see capacity increased in a number of markets during summer 2014 as additional frequency are added on some of CityJet’s strongest routes. Weekday flights between London City and Dublin will increase from five to seven rotations, all operated by the Avro RJ85, boosting capacity by 38 per cent.
It will be a similar scenario on London City – Paris where capacity will grow 18 per cent as weekday flights also increase from five to seven rotations, while London City – Florence will see a doubling of capacity with 12 weekly flights, versus the current six. Elsewhere, a third weekly flight on the London City – Toulon route will be added, while spare Avro RJ85 capacity will be redeployed on the London City – Rotterdam route further increasing the carrier’s offering on this key business route.
“We are working on a series of improvements to enhance the travel experience for our customers, and optimising our network is the first step. It is designed to offer passengers more choice and convenient schedules to choose from. We’re also very excited to be launching a new network from Cardiff, providing vital connections from Wales to Scotland, Jersey and France,” explained Simon Spinks, chief commercial officer, CityJet.
These capacity changes have been made available by the closure of the six routes, all of which were not living up to expectations. “We are confident that the changes to our summer schedule represent what our customers want and further will help to reinforce CityJet’s position as being the European regional airline of choice,” added Spinks, but he warned that a further network cull could still occur. “At the same time we will continue to rationalise our network by removing unprofitable routes,” he said.
Among the routes closing are two that have been flown by the carrier for over ten years. The London City – Luxembourg link was inherited from VLM Airlines, and is the only one of the six where CityJet faced direct competition with Luxair also serving this market. The London City – Dundee route was formerly operated by ScotAirways and is the only scheduled air route at the Scottish airport. The other four routes are relatively new to the CityJet network: Pau has been served since April 2011, Munster/Osnabruck since October 2012, Nuremburg since January 2013 and Paderborn since April 2013.