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Air France-KLM to sell CityJet and VLM, likely to leave SkyTeam

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Air France-KLM confirmed last Friday that it had agreed a deal to sell its subsidiary CityJet and VLM in the first quarter of 2014.

The buyer is a German group, Aviation GmbH, which is an investor-led turnaround group.  It is the same group that bought Deutsche BA for €1 from British Airways in 2003 and sold it to airberlin.  The price was not disclosed.

CityJet flies mainly from London City Airport (16 destinations) and Dublin, although it recently announced two new routes from Cardiff (Glasgow and Paris) which it is inheriting from Flybe.  It is not clear if Air France – KLM will retain slots and aircraft to continue running London City to Amsterdam and London City to Paris Orly, which presumably bring in connecting traffic.

Pruning of the London City base has already begun, with routes to Dundee, Edinburgh and Luxembourg either suspended or awaiting suspension.

There is no word on whether an independent CityJet will attempt to remain in Flying Blue or the wider Skyteam alliance.  However, given that cheap tickets on CityJet did not earn Flying Blue miles anyway, it is unlikely to make a huge difference.

CityJet has been a financial basket case for many years, and whilst I haven’t flown them for a long time, I have seen numerous reports of old and dirty planes and demoralised cabin crew.

It is difficult to see what sort of turnaround could be accomplished without substantial investment.  British Airways is now a major operator at London City and has a further three planes on order, presumably with a view to picking up routes where CityJet is weakest.

Comments (19)

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  • Alan says:

    It’s a shame, I always found the onboard service from Dundee to be excellent – friendly crew and decent inflight snacks. Sadly the prices were just too high unless booked well in advance (and as you say AF earning is pitiful on low fares and redemption costs were very high). Hopefully a new operator will take over this route…

    • Susan says:

      Seconded on crew from Dundee. Every couple of years they teased us with a DND-AMS hint which would have been terrific for me – LCY is super for a London terminus but pointless for most connections.

  • Dave says:

    I have a scheduled flight with CityJet in Feb. It will be my first time flying with them hope everything will be ok. Does anyone know how strict they are on baggage allowence and weight? on hold luggage and onboard?

    And slightly off topic, any idea on how to check award prices and availability on Swiss Miles and more? I tried to make a dommy booking and it simply came up that I dont have enough miles for that route without any indication of how much it costs!

    Thanks again Raffles!

    • Rob says:

      Let me know what you want pricing up and I’ll tell you, I’ve got 125k so that should be enough.

      • Dave says:

        Its or middle east , like Amman or Tel Aviv, or NY. Please if can check both directions for Biz and First.

        Thanks a Million!

        • Rob says:

          Check back later today, just off to Pizza Express for lunch!

        • Rob says:

          London to New York LH Business – 105,000 miles + £505 LH First – 170,000 + £505
          (Swiss would be similar. Tax drops to £385 return if you start in Germany / Switzerland as no APD.)

          London to Middle East / Israel LH Business – 70,000 + £501 LH First – 125,000 + £501
          (Tax drops to £350 if you don’t start in the UK)

  • onlysuites says:

    Don’t they operate the NCL ><CDG routing? Anyone know if AF will take up that route instead as the flights are always full so can't be a bad route for them.

  • Startupflyer says:

    I found the Cityjet crews pretty pleasant overall as well, even if flying blue is an appalling program. I wonder will BA start an LCY – DUB route? Flights always seemed quite busy on that route.

    Only flight out of Dundee I did was with the contracted airline, the oddly named Suckling Airways.

  • andy stock says:

    Gutted about LCY to Dundee ending. I have used it for business and the service was great. 2-1 seating with at least 2 drink rounds with a sandwich and a crisps / nuts. Loved flying on the Domier 328 tubro props, taking off was great fun!

    • Alan says:

      Yep with some great views coming info/flying out of both airports too! Also had the fun of a divert to EDI from DND when had to abort landing due to extremely bad weather – amazing how little time it took to get from one to the other! Great seeing Leuchars from above too – nice big runway, wish they could turn it into a commercial concern with LON and AMS connections!

      Off for a last hurrah on the service on Hogmanay!

  • andy stock says:

    I can see KLM operating a service using e190s from City to AMS for connections, as if you live in East London, SE London are near HS1, it can be just as quick to fly from LCY via AMS than trying to get across town to LHT.

    • Rob says:

      We flew into City on a Sunday night recently, and it was actually quicker to get from plane door to West London than it is from Heathrow to West London. Only on a quiet Sunday night, though!

      It wasn’t even more expensive – about £40 in a black cab from City compared to the typical £35-40 minicab cost.

  • Daniel says:

    Its a shame about city jet – I fly with them regularly to Dublin. Their prices have been a bit higher but when you factor the cost of getting to Heathrow versus getting to London City then often would come in marginally cheaper than BA or Are Lingus to Dublin.

  • dave says:

    OK. So I decided on NYC again. Between the three , BA LH and LX , what would you prefer?

    I am talking about business class , as I won’t be able to get FIRST on LH or LX

    • Rob says:

      LH is off the table unless you can be certain you get the flat bed. Swiss Business is very good, but you have to transfer via Zurich of course. Better than BA, but of course BA is direct.

      How about a) the ‘all business class’ flight on BA from London City, which is far better than Club World from Heathrow or b) airberlin via Dusseldorf or Berlin, which will save you £400 of tax. And if you’re fortunate you’ll still get a flat bed seat, albeit not as impressive as Swiss and a bit worse than BA.

      • dave says:

        I just did the lcy-jfk a few weeks ago. It was absolutely fantastic!

        And as I came back with a 747 FIRST ( which wasn’t anything major in my opinion) I want to try out something new , so it’s or the BA A380 (with a stop in Washington) or the Swiss business. Or maybe should I go for the BA 787 ? is it anything better than the normal CW ?

        And can you explain why Swiss is better than BA ? is it the seat , lounge, food of service?

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