Aer Lingus has reached agreement to take over CityJet’s key Dublin-London City Airport service from the end of next month.
The deal sees Aer Lingus increase its London services — and return to London City Airport for the first time since 2003.
It sees CityJet continue its strategy of providing capacity to other airlines instead of flying under its own brand.
Under the leasing arrangement, CityJet will provide aircraft to Aer Lingus as well as crew, maintenance services, and the covering of insurance costs, albeit under Aer Lingus livery.
It has similar agreements in place with the likes of Air France, SAS, and Brussels Airlines.
Last month, CityJet agreed a joint venture, still awaiting regulatory approval, with Spanish regional airline Air Nostrum, which both carriers will use as a means of winning more regional contracts with larger airlines.
That deal will create the largest regional airline group in Europe, employing around 1,700 people, generating annual revenues of around €700m, and with a combined fleet of nearly 100 aircraft.
“In recent years we have transitioned CityJet from being an airline serving scheduled markets under its own brand into becoming a provider of capacity to customer airlines throughout Europe,” said CityJet chief executive Pat Byrne.
The Aer Lingus deal means CityJet will have no routes operating to or from Ireland, under its own livery. Two years ago, it pulled its Cork-London City Airport service after just eight months, citing a lack of demand.
Aer Lingus chief executive Stephen Kavanagh said his airline is on “an ambitious flight path”, adding that the added capacity in London will play a major role.
“The Dublin-London City route will facilitate further business flows between Dublin and London and the service will provide those wishing to travel seamlessly from the heart of London City to North America with a very attractive connecting proposition, including US customs and immigration pre-clearance,” he said.
Aer Lingus will pay an undisclosed operating fee to CityJet.
The deal means IAG now has two airlines — Aer Lingus and British Airways — servicing the Dublin-London City Airport route, but it said it has no fears of either brand cannibalising the other.