Dutch start-up Amsterdam Airlines is aiming to secure its air operator’s certificate on 1 June and receive its first aircraft later that month in time launch operations on 27 June.

Amsterdam Airlines will specialise in three business areas: tour operator charter flights, business-to-business all-premium operations and wet-lease work.

It will launch using an International Aero Engines IAE V2500-powered Airbus A320, currently in service with Mexicana, sourced on lease from International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC). Amsterdam Airlines tapped Airbus to design its livery.

Former Denim Air CEO and Amsterdam Airlines founder Matthijs Boertien tells ATI: “We will take delivery of the first aircraft [in Mexico City] on 16 June. On 27 June we will operate our first commercial flight, originating in Amsterdam and flying to Ankara in Turkey. Tickets have been sold by the tour operator for that date.”

The initial flight will operate as a 100% guaranteed charter for travel agency consolidator Tourjet, which will continue to use the A320 for Turkish charter flights during Amsterdam Airlines’ first season.

Boertien says the start-up aims to secure its economic approval and air operator’s certification at the start of June.

The start-up’s pilot and cabin crew training programmes have been approved and will begin in May. Trained pilot Boertien will fly for Amsterdam Airlines this summer as an interim measure, minimising the airline’s headcount during its start-up phase.

He says Amsterdam Airlines is looking to build its fleet to three aircraft by next year. Although the carrier is focussed on A320 operations, he says one of the additions could be an A319.

The second aircraft, which will be configured with a low-density, 42in seat pitch for premium charters, is slated to arrive in November. Boertien says Amsterdam Airlines is in talks with two suppliers and has received an offer for the aircraft.

“We have postponed delivery of the second aircraft, because it has been very hard to source. The Dutch ecotax also played a role. We are postponing it until after the summer, to see how things develop,” he says.

The Netherlands is planning to introduce the ecotax fee in July, charging €11.50 ($18) or €45 ($70) per departing passenger, depending on sector length.

Boertien says some Turkish destinations from Amsterdam may fall in the €45 zone, potentially pushing fares up by a sizeable 25% and prompting Amsterdam Airlines’ management to take a cautious approach.

He says the second aircraft will be deployed on medium-haul sectors, serving the business-to-business market. It will perform missions for top-end tour operators and oil companies.

The start-up’s premium medium-haul ambitions have not been blighted by recent turbulence in the all-business transatlantic market. Boertien says: “You look at them and you see that there is a comparison. If we don’t have a provisional contract in place to fly the aircraft, that plan will change and we won’t take the aircraft.”

A third aircraft, which is at analysis stage, will join Amsterdam Airlines’ fleet in April 2009.

Boertien says: “The third aircraft will probably be configured in an all-economy layout and used for the tour operator business during the summer, and aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance (ACMI) lease work by winter 2009, when we will have all three elements up and running.”

Amsterdam Airlines is owned by Boertien, Denim Air founder Hamid Kerboua and managing director Jaap Horsten, who holds a minority stake. The start-up has also attracted three new informal investors, but Boertien declines to comment on their identity and says: “We are still keeping the majority between the three of us.”

Source: flightglobal.com's sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news

Source: FlightGlobal.com