CityJet chief hails airline’s ‘rebirth’

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CityJet chief executive Christine Ourmieres has welcomed the imminent completion of an acquisition by Intro Aviation as a “rebirth” for the regional airline, and indicated that a project to renew the fleet will take “a few months”.

German turnaround specialist Intro signed the deal on 28 December 2013, and on 28 March vendor Air France followed suite. “We now have one month to close the transaction,” Ourmieres told Flightglobal at the ERA Regional Airline Conference in Lisbon on 2 April. “Our intention is to close by 30 April, so to be fully independent by 1 May.”

Ourmieres says replacement of the carrier’s 95-seat Avro RJ85s is “one of the major projects” lying ahead. “We are already working on it but we take time to do the right study and to find the right offer for the company,” she says. “We need a few months to go through this project.”

Asked whether the replacement type will be of the same size, Ourmieres responds: “I think it would be logical to find aircraft of that size.”

Cityjet has 21 BAE Systems Avro RJ85 regional jets, while its Belgian subsidiary VLM operates 12 Fokker 50 turboprops. “As an airline, our fleet of Avro RJ85s with four jet engines are the opposite of fuel efficient,” Ourmieres acknowledged during an environment-themed session at the ERA conference. “Our daughter company, VLM, is much more efficient with the Fokker fleet. We know we have a real challenge with the fleet we have today, being fuel efficient and being eco friendly.”

The CityJet chief tells Flightglobal she is still in the process of negotiating her own contract but says that working with Intro is “a real pleasure”.

She says meetings with staff have already been conducted and more will follow this month. “I think everybody’s very excited because it’s very dynamic, it’s the rebirth of CityJet, so it’s a new adventure,” she says.

In the interests of stability, the airline does not intend to make any great network changes imminently, but Ourmieres notes that “from 1 May, we’ll be able to go and meet potential new partners.”

An “operational cutover” has already taken place, following an inventory cutover in November 2013. Late last month, the airline began flying under its own WX operating code. “We have our own DCS [departure control system], our own revenue accounting system, our own revenue management system and our own inventory,” adds Ourmieres. “We are ready.”