Zoom Airlines chairman and majority owner Hugh Boyle’s dual British and Canadian citizenship puts him in a unique position, of which he has taken full advantage to launch two airlines based in two separate countries.

Ottawa-based Zoom, which launched operations as a charter carrier in December 2002, has just formally announced details of its plans to establish a UK-based sister company to operate daily flights from London Gatwick to New York JFK from 21 June.

In regulatory terms, Boyle says that Zoom’s UK operation will be run as a separate entity from the Canadian side of the business to allow it to operate transatlantic services to the USA. However, the two airlines will share marketing activities, liveries and websites, making the brands indistinguishable as far as the public is concerned.

Hugh Boyle, W200Zoom’s ownership has proved to be a bone of contention for Delta Air Lines, which has filed an objection with the US Department of Transportation calling on the regulator to deny Zoom’s application to serve the Gatwick-JFK market until further information on the airline’s citizenship is provided. Zoom has rebuffed Delta’s objections, noting that the carrier is neither owned nor controlled by Canadian interests, with 93% of its issued shares held by UK citizens and corporate entities. Boyle’s dual citizenship has been a strong factor in making this possible.

Gaining approval
While formal US regulatory approval for the service has yet to be granted, Boyle is confident this is merely a “legal technicality” that will be overcome when Zoom takes delivery of its first UK-based aircraft on 21 May 2007 and is awarded a UK air operator’s certificate.

The proposed Gatwick-JFK service could be the first of a number of future flights for Zoom between Europe and the USA, following the recent signing of the European Union-USA Open Skies accord. “Obviously we want to offer new destinations, probably in America,” says Boyle, adding that areas of interest in the US market include Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Zoom is also planning to launch twice-weekly flights between London Gatwick and Bermuda on 8 June 2007, and Boyle says he is looking forward to breaking British Airways’ “41-year monopoly” on the route.

Supplementing routes
The Canadian side of Zoom operates almost exclusively to European destinations during the summer months, with flights linking Vancouver with Glasgow, London Gatwick, Manchester and Paris. Boyle says these services continue during the winter but with fewer frequencies, which allows the airline to supplement the routes with flights to the Caribbean.

On the fleet side, Canadian Zoom operates four leased Boeing 767-300s, while Zoom UK aims to expand its fleet to two 767-300s by the end of this summer. “We will take on more aircraft as we go along and while I can’t give a figure, one can expect significant growth,” says Boyle. He adds that the carrier may consider purchasing future aircraft, noting that it is “just a case of crunching the numbers first”.

Boyle runs Zoom alongside his brother John and between them they hold the vast majority of the carrier’s shares. The Royal Bank of Scotland, which Boyle describes as a “passive investor”, holds a 7.5% stake, while the remainder of the shares are held by various employees.

Zoom Canada is managed by Kris Dolinki, while former Astraeus commercial director Jonathan Hinkles was recently appointed as managing director of the UK operation.

The Boyle brothers have been “on the fringes of the aviation market” for some time, says Hugh, with John having been a board member of First Choice when it launched Air 2000 (now First Choice Airways). He adds that the speciality of both brothers is marketing, a tool he feels is essential to driving a successful airline going forward.

Zoom has ambitions of becoming “the UK’s leading low-cost transatlantic airline, providing an affordable alternative to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic”, and will be hoping that the greater US access afforded by open skies will help it to achieve this objective.   

Zoom W450

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Source: Airline Business