Air Nostrum's owners are creating a new carrier in Ireland called Hibernian Airlines, which will specialise in European wet-lease operations.
Speaking at the Routes Europe conference in Bilbao today, Miguel Oliver, network planning and scheduling director at Air Nostrum, says Inversiones en Lineas Aereas Internacionales (ILAI), the holding company created by the owners of the Spanish airline, plans to have the new carrier operating by the end of this year.
Hibernian Airlines already has a team of employees and a managing director, and Oliver says it expects to gain its air operator's certificate from Irish regulators in the coming months.
The airline will start with a fleet of three Bombardier CRJ1000s and will specialise in providing wet-lease services to airlines in central and northern Europe, he states.
Technical and maintenance support will be provided by Air Nostrum, and Oliver emphasises that Hibernian Airlines will not seek to compete directly with its Spanish sister company.
He says ILAI initially planned to establish Hibernian Airlines in the UK, but the uncertainty created by Brexit convinced the Spanish company to locate it in Dublin instead.
Oliver notes another advantage of basing the new carrier in Ireland is that it is close to the headquarters of Aer Lingus, which Hibernian would like to secure as a new customer. In total, the start-up is in talks with three potential airline partners, he adds. ILAI is meanwhile in talks to bring new investors into the new venture.
ILAI also owns a separate leasing company in Ireland called Saimer and completed the acquisition of a 51% stake in Maltese wet-lease specialist Medavia in November 2017.