A new regional feeder carrier that aims to develop the capacity purchase agreement (CPA) concept in Europe is being developed by the former chief operating officer of defunct Irish airline Jetmagic, in conjunction with ExpressJet Airlines of the USA.

ExpressJet Europe plans to offer regional feeder services to airlines throughout Europe using a fleet of 70- to 120-seat aircraft, and is seeking to sign its first customer before ordering its aircraft and applying for an air operator’s certificate (AOC), the proposed carrier’s managing director Jochen Schnadt told Flight International’s sister online service Air Transport Intelligence.

The start-up has the financial backing it needs, including a 49% stake held by US regional ExpressJet, but fleet decisions will depend on the needs of customers, he says. Although no aircraft type has been selected, Schnadt hints that Embraer aircraft will likely be the preferred choice. “Ideally, we want to operate a homogenous fleet and Embraer is the most versatile option,” he says. However, he does not rule out the possibility of the Bombardier CRJ200, despite the fact that “there are not huge opportunities for 50-seat aircraft in Europe”.

He adds: “We are having ongoing talks with manufacturers and the leading leasing companies, and we have excellent relations with GECAS [GE Commercial Aviation Services].” Schnadt says ExpressJet Europe will acquire its fleet through a combination of purchase and lease agreements.

The proposed carrier is “talking to a number of companies” about providing feeder services under CPAs and “discussions are at different stages”, says Schnadt, although he declines to disclose the identity of those airlines. ExpressJet Europe hopes to sign its first feeder contract “within six to nine months” and operations are not expected to begin until “the end of 2006 or into 2007”.

Schnadt is not the only former executive from Jetmagic to back ExpressJet Europe. The defunct Cork-based regional operator’s former chief executive, Barry Perrott, will be the proposed CPA provider’s executive chairman. ExpressJet Europe is also considering buying a European regional to use as an “operational platform” for its CPA model, says Schnadt.

Kerry Ezard / London

Source: Flight International