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KLM uk's no-frills buzz gets off the ground

Buzz, the new low-cost subsidiary of KLM uk, began operations on 4 January with promises of "strong market growth" in the European low-cost sector over the next five years.

Based at London Stansted, UK, the carrier competes with the existing UK-based low-cost airlines Ryanair, easyJet and British Airways subsidiary Go. John MacMahon, director of sales and marketing insists, however, that buzz "will do it differently".

He promises that 30% of the seats in the airline's eight leased 110-seat BAe146s (transferred from KLM uk) will be made available for the lowest fares, which, under its "done deal" offer, can be as low as £60 ($97) for a return flight. Passengers will pay £20 increments for extra services such as access to a business lounge or meals.

All the new carrier's flights can be booked through the Internet website (www.buzzaway.com) and there are no tickets, passengers being issued with boarding cards on production of their passports at check-in.

MacMahon says the main markets of interest are the UK, France and Germany. "Italy is already well served by the Alitalia/KLM/Northwest alliance and Spain is mainly a charter market." He says buzz will break even, with load factors of 50%, and expects to carry between 1 million and 1.5 million passengers in its first year.

He says that, in the USA, one in four passengers fly low cost airlines whereas in Europe the figure is one in 20. "So there is plenty of potential out there. We think the low cost airlines will expand 20% faster than the other carriers."

A pair of leased Boeing 737-400s will join the fleet at the end of January.

The initial route structure covers Paris Charles de Gaulle, Lyon, Vienna, Berlin, Milan, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf. Marseille, Bordeaux, Helsinki and Hamburg will be added in March.

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