|Ceased operations||22 June 2016|
|Frequent-flyer program||Pro Pass|
|Headquarters||Deurne, Antwerp, Belgium|
VLM Airlines started operations in May 1993 with a scheduled service between Antwerp International Airport and London City Airport. "VLM" is an abbreviation of Vlaamse Luchttransport Maatschappij, "Flemish Air Transport Company". Its original hub was Antwerp, then this was changed to London-City, and since its independency through management-buy-out end 2014, this is again Antwerp Airport.
On 24 December 2007, Air France-KLM announced that they had signed an agreement for a full takeover of the company from Panta Holdings. In 2008 the airline reported its tenth consecutive year of profits; for the year ending 31 December 2007 it had a net profit of 3.6m euros. Turnover grew to 112m euros and passenger numbers rose 9% to 745,781 during 2007. The airline now employs over 400 people, and carried 745,781 passengers in 2007.
Air France-KLM announced on 28 May 2009 that VLM Airlines would gradually start to operate under the brand name CityJet. The name CityJet was already in use by the Irish regional partner of Air France-KLM. In 2010 the name VLM Airlines had been replaced altogether by CityJet. This merger was never completed. On 16 February 2010 CityJet launched a new seating configuration on their aircraft, including the Fokker 50 aircraft added during the merger. They were fitted with CityPlus, a 4-abreast premium economy class along with CityValue, the standard economy.
VLM used to promote itself as Europe's leading "business airline" and tried to reflect this in its pursuit of superior service. Passengers were served fresh meals on board, and were able to request a vegetarian or kosher meal at the time of reservation. Meals were presented on a half-tray, and all passengers were served drinks in real glasses with tea and coffee served in china cups. Such features are not commonly found on short-haul airlines. After the CityJet/Air France takeover, this product was downgraded to reflect the Air France-KLM product on short-haul flights—a simpler service of sandwiches and drinks, with glassware and china cups replaced by plastic. However, the airline did continue to distribute boiled sweets to its passengers before take-off, and Belgian chocolates mid-flight.
Development since the 2010s
In early 2014, following the sale of CityJet by Air France to German investor Intro Aviation, the latter decided to "demerge" Cityjet and VLM. VLM would from then on provide aircraft and crews on an ACMI basis.
In October 2014, however, the management of VLM Airlines undertook a management buyout and VLM became independent from CityJet and Intro Aviation. The CEO, Arthur White, became the majority shareholder. The company continued to provide services to Cityjet and to offer charter services and reintroduced scheduled flights from Antwerp Airport to Geneva and other destinations. In the same month the airline signed a contract to lease two Sukhoi Superjet 100s, with options for 12 more, as a possible replacement for the Fokker 50s, to be delivered from April 2015. This date was later revised to 2016 due to certification delays, however the order was cancelled.
In March 2015, it was announced that VLM would take over two routes from Waterford Airport, Ireland to the UK which were previously served by Stobart Air and Flybe. The routes to London Luton and Birmingham started late April 2015 and continues throughout 2016. In June 2015, VLM announced it would discontinue all operations to and from their new base at Liège Airport (to Avignon, Nice and Venice) after only six weeks of service, due to low demand. In December 2015, VLM Airlines announced it would base three aircraft at Friedrichshafen Airport in Germany by February 2016 to take over the domestic routes to Berlin, Düsseldorf and Hamburg previously provided by bankrupt regional carrier InterSky.
On 13 May 2016, VLM Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection at a court in Antwerp after accumulating €6 million of debt. Bankruptcty protection was granted for a duration of six months on 25 May 2016. VLM planned to continue its operations with a turn around plan that envisaged a return to break even in mid 2017 with the main focus on improving cash flow, stabilizing the economic situation and stabilizing operations. After the bankruptcy protection was announced, several pilots left the airline due to a restructuring plan which focused on cost reduction and maximizing revenue.
On 22 June 2016, People's Viennaline announced the cancellation of its ACMI contract with VLM without further notice, citing a lack of quality in the provided services, e.g. several delays and cancellations. Later on the same day, VLM Airlines declared bankruptcy. All flights were cancelled with immediate effect and all planes grounded. The airline's website was shut down a few hours later.
VLM Airlines offered scheduled routes as well as charters under their own brand. On the day it ceased operations, the following destinations were served:
Operated as VLM Airlines
VLM also operated on and ACMI-basis on behalf of other airlines, including People's Viennaline, Vizion air and Flybe, for whom it had been contracted to provide extra capacity from Manchester Airport during the 2016 summer season.
As of March 2016, the VLM Airlines fleet included the following aircraft:
- "IATA - Airline and Airport Code Search". iata.org. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
- flightglobal.com - VLM files for bankruptcy 22 June 2016
- Your VLM contacts." VLM Airlines. 1 August 2003. Retrieved on 6 July 2010. "Headquarters VLM Airlines Belgium NV Luchthavengebouw B50 B 2100 Deurne Antwerpen." "Antwerp office VLM Airlines Belgium NV Luchthavengebouw B50 B 2100 Antwerp Belgium Company registration number 0446.670.251."
- Message on the VLM website announcing the takeover access date 24 December 2007
- Annual financial summary 2007-08
- CityJet. "CityJet - CityPlus". Retrieved 7 June 2015.
- "Lara News Show". Retrieved 7 June 2015.
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- "VLM Airlines on Twitter".
- flyvlm.com - This account has been suspended. retrieved 22 June 2016
- [cityjet.com - Flight disruption] retrieved 25 June 2016
- "Belgian Aircraft Register". Belgian Government - Official information and services. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
Media related to VLM Airlines at Wikimedia Commons