Aircraft operator plans to target special event-goers with Belfast-Brussels service
UK business aircraft operator PrimeFlight is to launch a new initiative by the middle of the year, following the inauguration of its Piaggio P180 Avanti-based scheduled service earlier this month.
PrimeFlight, which operates a single wet-leased Avanti through Piaggio's Bologna-based subsidiary FoxAir, is to offer ad hoc scheduled services under its newly created Members Club, once it has built up a client base for its twice-daily service to Brussels from Belfast International airport.
PrimeFlight is proposing advertising event-based scheduled services for ad hoc fixtures, but with an option to cancel the flight within seven days if fewer than five tickets are sold. PrimeFlight director Giles Atkinson says the service, intended to increase weekend use of the aircraft, will be more attractive to its target market of Northern Irish business people than private charter of the whole aircraft. The concept of ad hoc scheduled is the latest in a series of competing business models aimed at secondary airports in Europe.
PrimeFlight started twice-daily services to Brussels on 1 March and Atkinson says other destinations including Geneva, Frankfurt and Zurich could follow. "It is quite difficult to identify exactly where people are travelling to from Northern Ireland, but there is clearly a small niche of people who will pay more to avoid transferring through Birmingham, Dublin or London," he says. PrimeFlight was created by the Flight Excel consortium of Northern Irish investors as a response to the lack of direct services to mainland Europe. The company expects to hit its break-even target of three passengers a flight in the seven-seat twin-pusher turboprop by the end of March and is aiming for a 60% load factor, he adds.
PrimeFlight is recruiting crew and expects to receive its own aircraft operators' certificate in the second quarter, Atkinson says. Flight Excel then plans to purchase the Avanti from FoxAir, he adds. PrimeFlight also expects to add a second aircraft by year-end.
JUSTIN WASTNAGE / BELFAST
Source: Flight International