CITY BIRD, the new long-haul holiday airline launched by former EBA boss Victor Hasson, will begin operations between Belgium and the USA next March with two McDonnell Douglas MD-11s.

Hasson's City Hotels group holds a 62.5% stake, with the rest being taken up by private investors who were Hasson's partners in EBA, the airline he sold earlier this year to Richard Branson's Virgin group and which now trades as Virgin Express. An investment of some BFr 158 million ($5 million) has been made in the new carrier.

The two 371-seat MD-11s will be delivered on operating lease from the manufacturer.

City Bird will specialise in long- haul scheduled operations from Brussels, adopting the same low- cost formula as that of EBA. The aircraft will be configured in a two-class business/economy layout, with the capacity of the latter being sold at low prices. The airline will initially serve Los Angeles, Miami, New York (Newark), Orlando and San Francisco, with points in the Caribbean being added later.

Hasson says that he has a gentlemen's agreement with Branson not to become a rival to the Virgin Express operation in Europe.


Source: Flight International