Throughout the world established airlines struggle to compete against start-up operators employing bare-bones business models or serving niche business markets. Trends in the UK illustrate the problems–and the opportunities–the situation presents British Airways and the likes of lean, young regionals such as Air Southwest and Eastern Airways.
Swiss International Air Lines will once again segregate its regional operations under the auspices of a new subsidiary, the company announced last month. Named Swiss European Air Lines, the wholly owned operating unit will take possession of Swiss’ remaining Embraer ERJ 145 and Avro RJ85/100 fleet before year-end.
Flybe, the UK-based low-cost carrier that took delivery of its first Embraer E195 last month, plans to go public next year with the goal of raising between $141 million and $189 million. A spokesman at Dresdner Kleinwort, part of investment institution Dresdner Bank AG of London and Frankfurt, said the financial advisor will place the value of Flybe at between $283 million and $379 million.
Embraer celebrated delivery of its first E195 jetliner last month in an event at the company’s São José dos Campos headquarters that completed the Brazilian company’s line of E-Jets already in service–the E170, E175 and E190.
Lufthansa signed a firm order last month for 12 Bombardier CRJ900 regional jets. Once it accepts delivery, the German flag carrier plans to use the airplanes to replace 50-seat CRJ200s flown by Lufthansa CityLine. However, Lufthansa’s pilot union has yet to agree to a new scope clause that would allow the 86-seat jets within the CityLine fleet.
GE Commercial Aviation Services (GECAS) has agreed to buy five more Bombardier CRJ700 regional jets for subsequent lease to St. Louis-based GoJet Airlines, the Canadian manufacturer announced last month. Four of the airplanes involve conversions of conditional orders. The other represents a new firm order.
Mann Aviation at Fairoaks Airport southwest of London began taking in more business aircraft interior refurbishment work about two years ago and recently added a new 5,500-sq-ft facility dedicated to that aspect of its business. It includes cabinetry and upholstery shops as well as hangarage.
Lufthansa CityLine has begun operating the first of 12 new 84-seat Bombardier CRJ900 regional jets that by year-end will replace its ten 50-seat CRJ200s. With no prospect of oil prices falling, the German carrier is looking for the sort of fuel economics normally available only from long-haul widebody operations.
Irish regional airline CityJet in a little more than a month expects to place into service the first of 23 Avro RJ85s acquired in a $221 million deal to replace its present fleet of 20 BAe 146s. According to CityJet CEO Geoffrey O’Byrne White, the choice boiled down to the airplanes’ shared characteristics with the BAe 146, enhanced performance, better economics and, of course, the Avros’ comparative youth.
BAE Systems Regional Aircraft plans to work with ATP operators, maintenance organizations and equipment vendors to reduce the turboprop’s ownership costs by some 20 percent. Using the Franco-Italian ATR-42/72 as its cost benchmark, the UK manufacturer is accelerating negotiations with maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) companies, and hopes to build upon individual customer/ MRO arrangements.
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