BWA looking to aid low-cost Sicilian start-up

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UK wet-lease specialist and charter carrier British World Airlines (BWA) is studying the creation of a new low-cost airline based in Sicily, and is notifying air crew in preparation for a possible near-term launch of operations.

The new carrier would operate domestic services from Sicily – BWA has not stated whether the base will be Palermo or Catania – to undisclosed destinations on the Italian mainland with a fleet initially comprising up to two Boeing 737-300s. These would be operated under an ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance, insurance) arrangement with BWA.

BWA commercial director Mike Sessions stresses that no firm deal has been concluded yet, but says: “We are discussing the possibilities with someone down there [in Sicily], and we’re pretty close.”

He says that the operation would be a low-cost service and that it plans to start “shortly”, adding: “We have pilots ready to go – they’re just waiting for us to say [the deal is] done.”

BWA already has ties to Italy. It helped to launch British Airways Italian franchise partner National Jet Italia (NJI), which was operating four routes from Rome using British Aerospace 146-300s before it ceased operations a month ago as financial problems emerged during a change of ownership.