Irish regional carrier, CityJet is to launch a new collaboration with SAS Scandinavian Airlines to operate a range of regional services for the European flag carrier. As part of the deal, which take effect from spring 2016, Cityjet has agreed to acquire full ownership of SAS’s subsidiary Blue1, which will become the vehicle to support this new partnership.
As part of its profitability strategy, SAS is turning to regional partners to more efficiently feed its hub airports through the operation of smaller capacity aircraft into lower demand markets. It already has arrangements in place with Cimber Air and Flybe using a mix of Bombardier CRJ900 jets and ATR turboprop equipment.
The new arrangement with CityJet will see more Bombardier CRJ900 enters the SAS system. The Star Alliance member has agreed to wet-lease eight new CRJ900s from the Irish carrier, adding to the 12 already flown on its behalf by Cimber Air.
“We are looking forward to working with Cityjet to further expand our regional route network and thereby strengthen SAS’s offering to frequent travellers. The eight brand new CRJ900s from Cityjet will provide us with efficient and flexible production of regional flights that will complement SAS’s production on the larger traffic flows,” said Rickard Gustafson, President and CEO, SAS.
The new aircraft, which each have 90 seats and are painted in SAS colors, will be put into service from March 2016 on routes and at times when there is a need for smaller aircraft. The wet lease agreement is for three years and covers eight Bombardier CRJ900s with an option on a further six aircraft.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for Cityjet to work with a leading airline such as SAS. We are looking forward to a long-term cooperation, where we will deliver a high level of quality in terms of efficiency and customer service for SAS passengers. We are also keen to benefit from the experience and knowledge of the Nordic airline industry that the acquisition of Blue1 will give us,” said Patrick Byrne, Chairman of the Board at CityJet.
Since becoming independent last year, CityJet has seen continual growth across its network, and will carry over two million passengers this year on its scheduled services, charter services, and a Paris-based wet lease programme for Air France. The airline has recorded 40 per cent growth on its key route Dublin to London City route in the last six month and last week introduced a complementary link between Cork and London City having just weeks earlier revealed a refreshed corporate identity.
“We are delighted to launch our new Cork to London City Airport route which emphasises the progress we have made in building our passenger numbers and expanding our services across Europe. Great plans are underway at Cork Airport and we see great potential in delivering access to London’s most accessible airport for the people of Cork and Munster in general,” said Byrne.
From October 1, 2015, CityJet has been offering up to eighteen flights a week on the route with a three times daily weekday schedule and one flight on Saturdays and two on Sundays. It has emerged already that with strong pre-launch sales that the service will grow to a four times daily weekday schedule next year, while flights to France and Italy could be added to its network from Cork from summer 2016.
“Cork is a vibrant, progressive city and county, boasting many leading ICT, pharma and biotechnology companies. This airlink into the heart of London’s financial district can help propel investment and growth in the local economy and provide ease of access to many thousands of leisure and holiday travellers,” added Byrne.