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Club Air heads for Eastern Europe

Charter flights to Bulgaria and Romania set for October

Italian charter start-up Club Air is preparing to inaugurate services to Eastern Europe using two leased BAe 146-200s.

Launched by tour agent Valsole Viaggi, Club Air plans to start operating charter flights in October, initially on routes from its Verona hub to Sofia, Bulgaria and the Romanian destinations of Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca and Timisoara, says chief executive Bruno Tercatin. It has finalised a lease deal for the ex-FlightLine aircraft with IMP Group of Canada, arranged by Cabot Aviation, and signed a three-year support contract with UK company Casco.

The tour operator has been serving routes from Italy to Romania for 10 years using aircraft wet-leased from Tarom, including ATR turboprops and a Boeing 737-300. According to Tercatin, Club Air plans to continue the link with the Romanian flag carrier, which could see the 146s operating "in synergy" with Tarom between Romania and Northern Italy. The aircraft could also be flown on wet-lease for Tarom from Bucharest to points such as Amman, Berlin, Cairo and Copenhagen.

Tercatin says that he hopes to add a third BAe 146 next year, and may change to another aircraft type if expansion plans go ahead. This could see more European destinations added, and possibly Italian domestic services.

Ad hoc freight charter operator SixCargo, in which Tercatin holds a 50% stake, is to be re-named Club Air/6C to bring it into the new brand. The airline is about to add a second Fokker F27 freighter, and is considering the BAe ATP freighter for future growth.