Founder Pat Byrne and investors purchase CityJet
Owner Intro Aviation bought the Irish carrier from Air France KLM two years ago
Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe with CityJet executive chairman Pat Byrne. Photograph: Naoise Culhane
Intro bought the Irish carrier from Air France KLM two years ago and Mr Byrne rejoined the business in February 2015 as executive chairman.
The company yesterday confirmed that he and a group of private investors, with a background in aviation, bought CityJet’s entire issued share capital from its German owner.
Mr Byrne subsequently indicated that the company could consider a stock market flotation in 2½ to three years.
CityJet specialises in short-haul and commuter services that require aircraft with up to 100 seats.
It is likely to target similar deals to that which it has agreed with SAS, known as wet leases, in the future, and to continue to build its own route network alongside that.
CityJet plans to replace its Avro 85 fleet with the new Sukhoi SSJ 100 Superjet and will take delivery of 10 of these craft this year and next. In all it has firm orders to buy 23 new craft and has options for up to 24 more.
The airline carried two million passengers in 2015 and is on course to make a small profit this year, according to Mr Byrne. He also said that turnover should increase to €300 million. It was €177 million in 2014, when the airline lost €22.7 million.
Commenting on the deal with Intro Aviation, he said that he was delighted to be part of the of the airline’s ownership again.
“The change in ownership will give us access to the necessary capital to allow CityJet to move forward and continue the transformation,” he said.
“There are lots of profitable emerging opportunities in the European regional aircraft segment and CityJet is now well placed to take advantage of these.”
Peter Oncken, managing partner of Intro Aviation, said that this is the right time to leave the business with new owners to further develop the airline.
Mr Byrne founded CityJet in 1992. He resigned as chief executive in 2000 but remained as chairman until the sale to Intro Aviation two years ago.