HERMAN DE WULF / BRUSSELS
Belgian businessman Tony Gram has purchased an undisclosed stake in Dutch charter airline Air Holland. The purchase came as Gram's Belgian carrier VG Airlines launched scheduled operations last week to the USA with Brussels-New York Kennedy services, filling the gap left by the demise of Sabena.
According to sources, Gram, who also owns luggage company Delsey, becomes majority owner of Air Holland. Before the launch of its scheduled services, VG had been operating long-haul charter flights for the Dutch carrier on a wet-lease basis. Air Holland operates two Boeing 757-200s on long-haul charters. Gram had previously made an offer for former Sabena charter subsidiary Sobelair and observers suggest he is unlikely to pursue that acquisition now. Gram has also indicated interest in taking over Sabena Technics.
VG, meanwhile, plans to add services to Boston on 30 May and hopes to make Los Angeles its third US destination in June. The airline is considering Miami as an alternative, however, due to US and European Union opposition to the Los Angeles route, which would include a stop in Armenian capital Yerevan to cater for the 1.5 million Armenians living in the USA, says VG founder and chief executive Freddie Van Gaever.
US authorities, however, have expressed security concerns as Armenia is neighboured by Muslim states, says Van Gaever, while the EU has objected to VG's plans to hire non-EU cabin crew.
VG is leasing three former Sabena Airbus A330-200s from International Lease Finance, one of which is painted in a Delsey livery.
Source: Flight International