Start-up Ciao Fly to use 146s, drops Rimini hub plan

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Italian start-up carrier Ciao Fly has substantially amended its network strategy, switching a number of airports and dropping plans for a second hub altogether, after settling on the British Aerospace 146-200 as its preferred aircraft type.

Ciao Fly – which is also pushing its launch date back by a month to 1 July – had been planning to operate services out of Parma and Rimini to European capital cities but has opted to axe the Rimini hub plan.

Instead the carrier will focus on two routes out of Parma Giuseppe Verdi Airport, southeast of Milan. It will operate from Parma to Paris Cergy-Pontoise and London Southend rather than Paris Beauvais and London Luton as initially intended – although it is still planning to switch the Paris service to Beauvais in the future.

Ciao Fly would have operated additionally from Rimini to Luton, Beauvais, Brussels Liege and Catania in Sicily but a spokesman for the airline says that the business case does not hold up.

“We have cancelled the Rimini operation,” he admits. “This will never come. We performed a lot of marketing reviews but found that this service would not be viable.”

The airline says that it is making the other network changes for “operational reasons” adding that it is wary of the strong competition on Italian routes from London Stansted, served by UK and Irish budget carriers Go and Ryanair.

Ciao Fly has decided to take two 90-seat BAe 146-200 aircraft for its initial fleet, rather than Boeing 737s. It is still in discussions with potential suppliers for the regional jets but will not identify the parties involved.

Its choice of the 146s was influenced by restrictions at Parma. Although the airport has a 1,900m (6,230ft) runway, the spokesman claims that obstacles in proximity to the airport would have presented difficulties in operating a fully-laden 737 from the location.