DEBONAIR, THE LATEST UK start-up hoping to bring the US low-fares experiment to Europe, has promised fares of 50-70% below existing levels.

The airline is planning to launch services from London Luton on 19 July, with free flights on its routes to Barcelona, Munich and the Dusseldorf Express City Airport.

Initial fare levels, will be set in the region of £40-50 ($65-85) one-way, says chairman Franco Mancassola, a veteran of the US airline industry.

Services will begin, with two British Aerospace 146-200s, on lease from USAir, but will build up to five by August, with the opening of a new domestic service to Newcastle and routes to Madrid and Copenhagen. Like other low-cost start-ups, the airline will offer standard one-way fares without restrictions and direct free telephone booking.

Debonair will not provide a full in-flight meal, but from September the fleet will have seat back interactive in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems. Mancassola questions the "no-frills" tag, arguing that, with IFE and a 820mm seat pitch, it will be a "quality" service.

Longer-term plans are to begin linking other city pairs within the network, says Mancassola. He dismisses fears of a shortage of BAe146, saying that he has agreements on a total of seven, with two further options.

Mancassola has starting capital of £15.7 million ($10.1 million), raised from around 420 private investors, including some of its suppliers, all of which are on strict risk-sharing contracts.

Starting with two BAe 146s, Debonair will operate five by August

Source: Flight International