Traffic recovery continued to accelerate during the first half of the year, according o the latest statistics from the ERA. With data collected from 35 of the group’s 67 member carriers, revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) between January and June of this year increased by 9.9 percent, compared with a growth rate of 5.4 percent in the same period last year.
European Regions Airline Association
As the industry gathers in Gothenburg for this year’s general assembly, the ERA will certainly lament the absence of one of its stalwart airline members from Scandinavia–even if its passengers have taken little notice.
The company that launched the Saab 340 into prominence in Europe will soon bow out of the turboprop flying business altogether, when Swiss International Airlines bids adieu to the last of its 50-seat Saab 2000s this month and embarks on a restructuring of its regional jet fleet that will also banish all nine of the carrier’s Embraer 145s by March.
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.
Circumstances have certainly done few favors for the 2005 ERA General Assembly’s hometown airline. From its first day of operation, Gothenburg-based City Airline seemed marked for failure. It flew its first revenue service four years ago, on Sept. 10, 2001, the day before the U.S. terrorist attacks that accelerated the global economic recession already under way.
UK executive charter firm Bookajet is rebranding its operation under the name Club328 to emphasize its new fleet of AvCraft Dornier 328Jets and Envoy 3s. Last month, the Southampton-based company took delivery of the first of the eight aircraft it has ordered. All will feature a Club328 logo.
A complete change of approach to its business and, not least, punctual performance have helped Binter Canarias become the European Regions Airline Association airline of the year for the third time.
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.
Never a hotbed of activity for the West’s two regional jet makers, the Middle East market for RJs has long seemed as barren as the Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter. But like the oil riches that lie beneath the desert sands, the need for smaller, more efficient airplanes has finally surfaced with a little coaxing, as Embraer proved in late April.
Avions de Transport Regional landed firm orders for 20 new airplanes from four customers at last month’s Paris Air Show. Finnish regional airline Finncomm signed for eight 48-seat ATR 42-500s, Corsica’s CCM for six ATR 72-500s, New Caledonia’s Air Caledonie for a still undefined mix of three ATR 42-500s and ATR 72-500s, and Air Madagascar for two ATR 72-500s and a single ATR 42-500.