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Air Antwerp set for London City launch

Start-up carrier Air Antwerp will operate its first flight to London City on 9 September, following the granting of its air operator's certificate by Belgium's civil aviation authority.

The Belgian airline, a joint venture between KLM and CityJet, will use a 50-seat Fokker 50 turboprop to operate three return weekday flights plus one Sunday evening service. KLM will be a codeshare partner on the route.

"Business travellers will finally be able to fly again from the centre of London to Antwerp," states Air Antwerp chief executive Johan Maertens. "Also for the Antwerp business world – in particular the diamond industry and the port community – it is good news that there is again a direct link to the London Docklands."

The airline expects the KLM codeshare agreement with KLM to provide significant support to the venture. VLM, which operated an Antwerp-London City service before it entered liquidation last year, did not have such a relationship with a major airline, Air Antwerp spokesperson Yves Panneels points out.

"The codeshare agreement with KLM will reinforce the strength of the operation. It is important to have the support of a strong brand," he says.

Air Antwerp has one leased Fokker 50 – which Cirium fleet data lists as being managed by Largus Aviation. Panneels says the operator will explore opportunities to work with other airlines in the future, but for the moment "the first step is to start operations to City".

Cirium schedules data shows that Antwerp already has a direct connection to London Southend, operated by Flybe. However, this service will cease at the end of this month.

Air Antwerp was created to fill the space left by the collapse of VLM, and is 75% owned by Irish operator CityJet and 25% owned by KLM.

The start-up has a stated aim of offering point-to-point services from Antwerp on routes unsupported by mainline carriers, their hub-feeder affiliates or high-speed rail.

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