New owner to address CityJet fleet renewal 'very quickly'

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German turnaround specialist Intro Aviation is planning to quickly replace CityJet’s fleet after the planned acquisition of the regional airline from Air France on 1 May.

The French airline formally accepted Intro’s bid for its regional subsidiary on 28 March after both sides had been negotiating for 13 months. Intro submitted its offer in late December 2013.

Peter Oncken, Intro managing director and shareholder, says that CityJet’s existing fleet needs to be “very quickly” replaced with “more modern” aircraft.

This is “not an easy task”, he says, given that just a few aircraft fulfil the steep approach and “extremely stringent” noise requirements of London City airport, which Intro wants to use as a hub to build up the airline’s European network.

Today, CityJet has 21 BAE Systems Avro RJ85 regional jets, while its Belgian subsidiary VLM operates 12 Fokker 50 turboprops.

A source at French pilot union SNPL told Flightglobal last month that CityJet needs to replace its aircraft by 2017 to remain competitive.

Aside from the fleet renewal, Oncken says the main priorities now are to develop a schedule for the winter 2014/15 season and to change CityJet’s corporate culture from being an Air France-KLM subsidiary to that of a medium-sized business.

CityJet employs around 750 staff members and carried approximately 2.2 million passengers in 2013.

The acquisition is to be completed at the start of May.