Forget airline consultants. Uzbekistan Airways has come up with a novel way of obtaining western expertise: invest in a UK airline.

European Airways, which operates a single domestic route, is 40 per cent owned by the CIS carrier. In exchange, managing director David Allen and board members are 'on call 24 hours a day' for Uzbekistan Airways.

'For Uzbekistan it was an investment in western knowledge and managerial advice,' explains Allen. 'They are very professional, but needed help with the transition to the western way of operating.'

The CIS carrier has invested £100,000 ($160,000) in the UK operator, but Uzbekistan's total potential investment could reach £400,000, if European Airways uses its authorised total share options of £1 million.

In a role reversal, Uzbekistan helped European Airways with distribution by hosting the UK carrier in its Gabriel system. European Airways began operations in February between Newcastle and Southampton with two Jetstream 31s. Allen says the carrier plans to launch a Hamburg route in mid-July.

The carrier's short-term plans include taking on medium range aircraft to expand European operations and offer charter capacity. In the longer term, central Asia beckons. Allen is looking at BAC 1-11s for European routes, as well as the Fokker 100. However, he adds that the newer equipment is likely to be beyond European Airways' current budget.

Allen has 25 years' airline experience and was a consultant prior to setting up European Airways, in which he holds 60 per cent.

Source: Airline Business