The Irish airline fronted by returning founder, Pat Byrne, who rejoined the company earlier this year, announced the 18-flights-a-week service in July and indicated there may be room for further routes down the line.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, CityJet head of global marketing and communications, Martina McDermott confirmed an expanded footprint at Cork Airport is very much part of the company’s growth plans.
“We’re [flying] Cork to London City Airport from October and I think the plan would be for next summer to have other routes out of Cork,” Ms McDermott said.
The exact number of routes is yet to be confirmed but the focus is likely to be on catering for the leisure market, of which CityJet is looking to gain a larger slice.
Demand has been strong ahead of the launch of the London route next month with sales for October on a par with the same service from Dublin.
A revised pricing policy with cheaper lead-in prices coupled with an advertising push has seen load factors — the measure of how many seats an airline fills — climb from percentages in the early forties in November of last year to the 70%-region in July and August.
Despite Air France exiting the business last April, a “wet lease arrangement” remains in place where CityJet carries some 80,000 passengers for the French airline each month.
Ms McDermott confirmed that talks are ongoing with another major airline for CityJet to provide a similar service.
“I think in the airline industry as a whole, wet lease is really key and that’s where airlines are going and that makes commercial sense. Our own network is really important to us too and that’ll be a focus too,” Ms McDermott added.
As well as growing the services it operates for bigger airlines, expanding its slice of the leisure market is also a key growth trajectory.
“Previously when Air France owned us it was very much targeting business customers.
“Going after the corporates is still incredibly important to us but it will never fill planes… so we went out [with] very heavyweight advertising to all sectors — going into the leisure market; targeting young couples going away for the weekend; people with families.
“Our view was ‘we’re an airline, anybody that wants to fly with us we’ll take them’.”