Dublin-based Cityjet in £75m deal with Bombardier
Dublin-based airline Cityjet is expanding its fleet by up to seven Bombardier aircraft as part of a deal worth more than $100m (£75m).
The agreement will not result in the manufacture of new jets, but instead use existing CRJ900 models, which are partly made in Belfast.
It will allow Cityjet to further expand its so-called "wet leasing" operation, which sees it provide its own aircraft and crew to operate regional routes on behalf of bigger European carriers such as SAS, Air France and Lufthansa's Brussels Airlines, the airline's founder and executive chairman Pat Byrne said.
Cityjet is in ongoing talks with a number of major European carriers about operating a similar service. This wet lease market was a key part of Mr Byrne's business proposition when he bought back the airline in 2016 from Germany's Intro Aviation.
He originally founded Cityjet in 2000 but sold it to Air France, which in turn sold it to Intro in 2013 before Byrne joined forces with aircraft leasing specialist Falko to reacquire it.
"We are talking to airlines all the time," said Mr Byrne. "This whole concept of the big legacy carriers wet leasing their regional routes is becoming a reality."
The airline has also recently won a second contract with Air France, operating a number of Bombardier aircraft on behalf of Air France's new Paris Orly-based subsidiary Hop.
Mr Byrne said that the latest aircraft deal was a good illustration as to why the Cityjet model - whereby an aircraft leasing company owns an airline - was "a unique and perfect partnership". In 2017 CityJet purchased SAS subsidiary Cimber.
Cityjet owner Falko has now subsequently acquired 100 SAS-owned Bombardier CRJ 900 aircraft previously used by Cimber from SAS for about $10m apiece. Up to four of these are to be sold on, with two already sold to Estonian carrier Nordica.