Sweden's Skyways announces further expansion

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Skyways is continuing its rapid expansion programme with a further clutch of new routes, although it has postponed the start date of one previously-announced destination.

The Swedish regional operator will begin a Kristianstad-Berlin Tegel service on 2 May, operating the route three times weekly with a Fokker 50.

The German capital also features on a new Jonkoping-Berlin-Geneva route due to open on 16 May, which Skyways will operate with Embraer ERJ-145s. It currently has three ERJ-145s, with a further two to arrive by mid-May says senior vice-president business and commercial development Peter Browall.

He foresees Berlin, with its business bias, being the stronger of the two destinations initially, but believes Geneva will gain in passenger numbers over the winter as leisure travellers take advantage of the nearby Alps for skiing.

The 50-seat Embraer will also be employed as Skyways re-opens the domestic Swedish Skelleftea-Stockholm Arlanda service on 26 April after a 10-month gap.

Previously, Skyways operated a Fokker 50 into the northeast Swedish city in competition with Scandinavian Airlines.

"They used a Bombardier Q400, which was quite a good balance with the Fokker," says Browall. "But when SAS started having problems with their Q400s they stepped up to a [McDonnell Douglas] MD or a Boeing 737, the route was flooded with seats and we couldn't handle it."

The arrival of the Embraer on the new, five-weekly service, together with revised timings, will make Skyways much more competitive, he believes.

Skyways has postponed its planned Jonkoping-Brussels route, due to start this week, because of weak bookings, says Browall. The airline will now conduct further research among business organisations in both cities to see if the route is viable.

Skyways has been on an expansion course since it was acquired by asset management company Manswell Enterprises in December 2010. The new owners aim to broaden the carrier's route network outside Sweden.