The news emerged as the Irish airline celebrated the launch of its new 18-flights-a-week service from Cork to the UK capital, and the signing of a major ‘wet lease’ contract by Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) to operate a network of regional routes from Helsinki, Oslo, and Stockholm from next March.
CityJet will operate services on behalf of SAS using eight new aircraft, with an option to increase to 14 aircraft in 2017.
As it launched its new Cork service, the airline also announced it is to acquire eight 90-seat Bombardier CRJ900 regional jets, major components of which are made by Bombardier in Belfast, with the contract providing for six further aircraft in 2017, bringing the total aircraft value to more than $650m (€577m). The CRJ900 fleet will be operated on behalf of SAS, with the aircraft in SAS colours and crewed by CityJet staff.
CityJet chief executive, Pat Byrne, hailed the developments at the inaugural Cork to London City Airport flight on Thursday.
He said the new service to London, which will operate initially with three flights a day Monday to Friday, once on Saturdays and twice on Sundays, has huge potential, and that the airline plans to increase to four the number of daily flights, Monday to Friday.
“This airlink into the heart of London’s financial district can help propel investment and growth in the local economy and provide ease of access to many thousands of leisure and holiday travellers,” he said.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney welcomed CityJet to Cork and urged people to support the route.
The airline’s flagship Dublin to London City route has seen 40% growth in the last six months.