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Start-up Great Dane sees Jutland market opportunity

Start-up Great Dane Airlines has outlined plans for rapid growth.

Chief executive Thomas Moller tells FlightGlobal that the Aalborg-based carrier has one Embraer 195 in service as it prepares to begin scheduled services later this month and plans to take a second of the type next month.

The nascent carrier intends to take one to two additional E195s each year under an expansion plan which Moller expects will generate profitability by 2020.

While the carrier will stick with the E195 for the coming years, he sees Embraer's new E195-E2 as a potential jet for the airline in the long term.

Having secured its air operator's certificate earlier this month, Great Dane has already begun charter flights and will inaugurate scheduled services from Aalborg to Dublin, Edinburgh and Nice in the coming days.

Load factors on the carrier's planned routes are around 40% and while they are "picking up, they could be better", says Moller. He expects the figure to rise as people in the region "see we are now flying".

He says the carrier picked Edinburgh over London because the Scottish capital lacks links from Aalborg and there is demand for pursuits such as golf, hunting and outdoor holidays from the Jutland area. A similar rationale guided the decision to add Dublin and Nice services, adds Moller.

Great Dane is seeking to fill a gap in connectivity in the northern Jutland region, but ahead of the start of operations Moller says the carrier has discovered a similar demand across Scandinavia.

He says the regional airline is also in talks with tour operators to begin services from undisclosed regional airports in Sweden.

Charter services will account for 70% of Great Dane's operations, while scheduled services – focused on the city break market – making up the remaining 30%, says Moller.

In the long term, he sees the potential for Great Dane to sign a codeshare agreement with either Lufthansa or Finnair to feed traffic into Frankfurt and Helsinki respectively.

The airline expects to carry approximately 100,000 passengers in its first year of operations.

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