CityJet is an Irish regional airline with headquarters in Swords, Dublin. Since 2017, CityJet had moved away from scheduled flights and has instead focused on wet leasing and charter flights. The airline operates wet-lease services on behalf of Aer Lingus, Air France and Scandinavian Airlines.
Cityjet was founded in 1992 and commenced operations in January 1994 serving a single route between Dublin and London City Airport under a franchise agreement with Virgin Atlantic in which it paid fees and charges to Virgin in order to operate as "Virgin Cityjet" and use Virgin Atlantic' distribution channels. The airline was mainly competing with British Midland and Aer Lingus services from Dublin to London Heathrow and Ryanair services from Dublin to London Stansted. However, Cityjet hold a monopoly on services to London City until Aer Lingus launches services from Dublin to London City as well in September 1999. Deregulation and the Airline Business in Europe
In June 1995, Virgin Cityjet debuted with flights between Dublin and Brussels, competing with Sabena and Aer Lingus initially.
In 1996, the airline terminated its franchise agreement with Virgin Atlantic on short notice and decided to continue operations using its own CityJet name from the end of July that year. By then, the airline flew scheduled flights from Dublin to London City, Brussels and Malaga. The decision to discontinue the Virgin Atlantic franchise came as Virgin itself entered the European short-haul market with budget carrier Virgin Express and CityJet feared customers could confuse the low-cost carrier with its own full-service operation.
Air France era
In 1999, Cityjet was at the verge of bankruptcy. Air Foyle acquired half of the shares in the airline in return of assuming the carriers debts. Air France took another 25 percent while investing £2 million. Under the new structure, Cityjet retained its own scheduled services while also becoming Air France' principal European subcontract airline. However, Cityjet still remained a loss-making business.
In early 2000, Air France took over all shares in CityJet and became its sole owner. At the time, Cityjet already operated seven out of eight aircraft for Air France. Overall savings to Air France by outsourcing regional operations to the Irish subsidiary were estimated at around 40 percent. The French national airline was allowed to outsource operations of aircraft with less than 100 seats to regional partners and subsidiaries under its contracts with Air France' labour unions.
In 2006, Cityjet operated supplemented Air France' operations with flights from Paris to Dublin, Birmingham, Edinburgh, London City, Florence, Gothenburg and Zurich. Furthermore, the airline still operated between London City and Dublin. The fleet consisted of 20 aged BAe 146 aircraft. From December 2006, the airline began replacing them with 23 much younger but similar Avro RJ85 it had acquired in a $221 million deal from Mesaba Airlines.
On 24 December 2007, Air France-KLM announced that it had signed an agreement for a full takeover of VLM Airlines NV from Panta Holdings and announced on 28 May 2009 that VLM Airlines would gradually start to operate under the brand name CityJet. As of 1 June 2010, the whole VLM Airlines Fokker 50 fleet wore full CityJet livery, although VLM remained the owner of its own Airline Operators Certificate, and the Fokker 50 fleet is listed on the Belgian registry.
CityJet filed a pretax loss of €51.5 million for the year to the end of March 2010. This compared to a €53.9 million loss in the year to end March 2009. Revenues fell by 8 percent from €282.4 million to €258.9 million over the same period. Passenger numbers grew, climbing by 6.5 percent to 2.1 million, while average fares dropped by 16 percent. Christine Ourmières joined as new chief executive on 1 October 2010. She has previously held a number of senior posts within the Air France-KLM group. In the IATA year ending 31 March 2010, CityJet carried just over 1 million passengers on its London City network.
In June 2012 it was announced that Air France-KLM was considering selling CityJet to support its own ailing business, with a further statement in April 2013 that the winning bidder would be announced in the summer of 2013.
As of October 2013 the operational agreement with Air France has been replaced by codesharing. CityJet since then operates most routes under its own WX code instead of Air France's. In December 2013 Air France announced it would sell CityJet including VLM Airlines to German investor Intro Aviation. The transfer was completed in May 2014. CityJet subsidiary VLM Airlines was bought by its own management and cut itself loose from CityJet. However, they were to remain flying routes as ACMI operator for CityJet until at least Summer 2015.
In 2014, CityJet started a new codeshare with Guernsey based airline Blue Islands, after Blue Islands pulled out of selected European routes. Blue Islands would operate flights from Jersey to London City, and then passengers would get onto a CityJet operated flight to a European destination. This ended in March 2016.
It was announced in November 2014 that CityJet routes from Cardiff to Edinburgh and Paris-Orly were to be operated by Stobart Air from 1 December 2014. However, both routes will cease by June 2015 since Flybe introduced flights the same routes from Cardiff, supported by the airports operator.
In June 2015, CityJet announced the termination of Dresden, the last of four German destinations, due to low demand. In October 2015, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) announced it would sell its Finnish subsidiary Blue1 to CityJet which however was planned continue to operate the company on behalf of SAS as part of a larger co-operation. However, during 2016 Blue1 has been dissolved and merged into its new parent CityJet.
On 28 June 2016, CityJet inaugurated its Sukhoi Superjet 100 revenue services with its first scheduled flight from Cork to Nantes. Early December 2016, CityJet started recruiting Flight & Cabin Crew for a new Sukhoi Superjet 100 base in Brussels, Belgium.
In March 2017, CityJet stated that it planned to focus more on its wetlease business while reducing its own scheduled flights. This will lead to the closure of routes from London-City to Nantes and Paris as well as a downgrade of frequencies on other routes. CityJet plans to operate 80 percent of all flights on a wetlease basis in the near future.
On 5 April 2017, it was announced that KLM Cityhopper would wet lease two Avro RJ85s from CityJet to operate four additional Amsterdam–London City services per weekday over the Summer 2017 season, starting 15 May 2017. This has since ceased.
In late October 2017, CityJet cancelled most of its remaining routes from London City Airport leaving Dublin and Florence as its only scheduled destinations from there after operating a much larger network in previous years.
In late August 2018, CityJet announced they would cease operating scheduled services under their own brand effective from 27 October 2018 but continue business as a ACMI leasing provider. The London–City to Dublin route was transferred to Aer Lingus, operated by Cityjet using two Avro RJ85 aircraft.
CityJet ceased scheduled operations under its own name in October 2018 and continues to operate several routes on wetlease contracts for Air France, Scandinavian Airlines,, Brussels Airlines and Aer Lingus.
As of March 2019, the CityJet fleet consists of the following aircraft:
|Avro RJ85||9||—||95||Two operated for Aer Lingus|
|Bombardier CRJ900||27||—||90||All operated for Scandinavian Airlines|
The existing entire Bombardier CRJ900 fleet is on wetlease to SAS – operate exclusively on behalf of SAS with crew from CityJet, in SAS livery. CRJ900 on order will replace Cimber aircraft in 2017 and 2018.
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Media related to CityJet at Wikimedia Commons