Regional Jet OÜ, a joint venture of the Estonian state-owned airline Nordica and LOT Polish Airlines, has signed a lease for two ATR aircraft to operate routes of Scandinavian carrier SAS out of Copenhagen under a six-year agreemnt that will begin in August.
In addition it has concluded preliminary agreements concerning three more aircraft, one of which will serve Nordica's own routes.
"Regional Jet OÜ has concluded agreements concerning two ATR aircraft and the aircraft have arrived in Tallinn already," Toomas Uibo, head of corporate sales at Nordica, told BNS on Tuesday. "Both units have been registered to the air operator's certificate (AOC) of Regional Jet." According to Uibo, the aircraft have been leased from leasing companies Elix Aviation Capital and Castlelake.
"Regarding the other three aircraft, we have concluded preliminary agreements by now, but any comments concerning partners can be made only after the primary agreements have been signed and the transactions have taken place," he added.
Four of the turboprops will serve short-distance SAS flights out of Copenhagen while the fifth will serve Nordica's own routes, primarily to Stockholm and St. Petersburg.
"This is a very cost-effective, new and comfortable aircraft that is ideally suited to operate shorter routes," Uibo explained. "Under conditions of intense competition, this is a suitable addition to Nordica's fleet of aircraft. The service agreement with SAS offered us a good opportunity to take into use this type of aircraft."
The crewss of the aircraft serving the SAS routes will be based out of Copenhagen and at least initially will consist of Danes. The agreement with SAS is six years in length, and the price and conditions are subject to review after three years.
SAS announced in December 2016 that it had discontinued cooperation with carrier Jet Time, which used to operate eight ATR72-600s for SAS.
Commenting on the deal with Regional Jet, SAS said in March that it had been working since November 2016 to find a new wet lease operator which can operate SAS' regional services with ATR72s, when the agreements with Jet Time were wrapped up. A number of airlines had been involved in negotiations for the contract, but Regional Jet OÜ was chosen on the basis of a number of parameters. Among other things, audits of SAS' quality and compliance monitoring have yielded excellent results, SAS said.
"We have now found the right collaborative partner to take over Jet Time's flights," Mikael Wangdahl, vice president for external production at SAS, said in a press release. "We look forward to working with Regional Jet OÜ, which is a competent and reliable partner and a key contribution to our wet lease strategy."
The agreement with Regional Jet spans six years but can be terminated after three. The four ATR72-600s that will be flying for SAS, in SAS livery, will be staffed primarily by Copenhagen-based crews on local agreements.
Regional Jet OÜ was founded in 2015 as an independent company, supplying wet lease services to other companies. The company is 51 percent owned by Nordic Aviation Group (Nordica) and 49 percent by LOT Polish Airlines (LOT). Nordic Jet operates three aircraft for LOT and five for Nordica.
Editor: Aili Vahtla