Avanti Air operates Rostock Airways' initial flights

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German start-up carrier Rostock Airways has begun operations on its inaugural Bremen-Zurich route.

The first flight departed from the Hanseatic city with a Fairchild Dornier 328 operated by Austria-based wet-lease specialist Welcome Air on 3 February, but later that day Germany’s Avanti Air took over the operations with an ATR 72-200.

Avanti Air has been contracted to conduct the twice-daily return flights from Bremen to the Swiss city until 7 February, although that deal could be extended, the Burbach-based wet-lease operator says.

Rostock Airways had planned to acquire Welcome Air’s defunct regional subsidiary carrier Air Alps, but the deal appears not to have been completed in time for the start of the Bremen-Zurich operations.

The planned transaction comprised Welcome Air’s 76% stake in Air Alps and the latter’s last remaining Fairchild Dornier 328 turboprop (registration: OE-LKA).

When Air Alps ceased operations in November 2012, its fleet comprised three Fairchild Dornier 328s. The second aircraft (OE-LKB) has been transferred to Welcome Air and is operating Austrian Airlines’ domestic route between Vienna and Linz under a wet-lease arrangement. The third aircraft (OE-LKH ) had been part of Welcome Air’s fleet and was leased to Air Alps.

Negotiations with Rostock Airways’ began after Welcome Air decided to sell Air Alps’ assets in August 2013. The talks were delayed a number of times and eventually a deal was targeted for late January 2014, Gunther Gast, an Innsbruck-based lawyer who acts as Air Alps’ chief executive, told Flightglobal towards the end of that month.

No agreement had been signed, he said.

Aside from the Zurich flights, Rostock Airways wants to start services from Bremen to Brussels during the summer 2014 schedule and is planning additional routes, its says on its website.

The carrier declined the opportunity to comment further.