Recently CityJet‘s new owners (INTRO Aviation) attracted attention when they mentioned the airline’s re-fleeting was considering the CSeries and Superjet. The backdrop here is that CityJet has struggled under ownership by Air France/KLM. Even though it operates out of London City, a potentially high yield market.
We asked INTRO’s Managing Director Peter Oncken a few questions.
- We understand that INTRO is focusing on LCY as part of a re-fleet decision process. Can you explain this thinking please?
The present setup of Cityjet has been the main reason why we got involved with Cityjet in the first place. LCY is a rather secluded market as the positioning is strategically interesting for point to point business traffic and provides dominantly high yield traffic due to limited competition from LCC. The reason is that the airport cannot be served by aircraft which are not certified for this airport such as Boeing 737 and Airbus 319/320 which are been operated by the LCC.
Focusing on LCY has an imminent effect on the fleet decision as the aircraft have to be certified for that airport. As we will continue to operate on the 100-seater jet platform we only have a choice between E190, Superjet or Bombardier CSeries 100.
- Media reports indicate that you are considering both the CSeries and SSJ. Can you walk us through the advantages of each of these from your perspective?
To make it short: both manufacturers need a substantial operator in Europe. With a fleet renewal for 18 aircrafts Cityjet is obviously and interesting candidate for whom it is worth to fight for.
With respect to the trip costs both types are very much comparable. The CSeries having more seats though makes this aircraft interesting on a per seat cost perspective.
Having said this the main question apart from financial conditions will be the timing of certification for LCY. This will influence our decision as much as the answer to guarantees as well as support and training organization in Europe.
- You also have 15 F50s, are these also being considered for replacement? If so, what is the priority in replacement selection?
There is no imminent need for replacing the F50 as they are at half time condition and have no capital costs. We can imagine though subject to opportunistic developments that we will enhance the fleet depending to requirements of the market. Remember, VLM is a charter and ACMI operator and therefore will have to adapt to market needs more than Cityjet as a schedules operator.
- What does Intro prefer to do – lease or buy? Please explain the choice.
We are flexible but actually we prefer to have the airline buy the aircraft. Ownership has always a positive effect on cost development.
- Odyssey and SWISS are planning to use CSeries out of LCY, because of its short field capabilities, low noise and range. Which factors are most important for your network? How important is range – are you looking at additional city pairs out of LCY?
Range at sustainable costs is obviously the answer to your question. Cityjet will have to develop its network and will have to look into city pair niches out of LCY. But we will not make the mistake to focus solely on LCY but rather have a combination of LCY pairings and continental European city pairs. We are presently in the process of evaluation and expect to have the final network up and ready for summer 2016 in the course of fleet replacement.