Saturday, August 15, 2015

German Airline has Big Plans for a Little Bizjet

Hahn Air C4 on ramp
Hahn Air conducts two scheduled flights a week, round trip between Dusseldorf International Airport and Luxembourg, using a pair of Citation CJ4s.
It might not be the first to try it, but for the past five years Germany’s Hahn Air has operated one of the world’s smallest international airlines, using only business jets.
The Dreireich-based company currently conducts two scheduled flights a week, round trip between Dusseldorf International Airport and Luxembourg, using a pair of Citation CJ4s that see charter usage when they are not serving as mini airliners. According to manufacturer Cessna, the CJ4 is the first jet in its class to achieve authorization for use in airline service.
Maintaining scheduled service on a dedicated route, even two flights a week, is a prerequisite for the company’s airline status and acceptance by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), of which Hahn Air is a member.
According to the company, the heart of its business lies in the interline agreements it has established with hundreds of airlines. With an interline agreement, Hahn Air can sell its flights through a partner airline’s ticketing, for access to markets it could not tap through travel agents, and that processing currently accounts for a large portion of Hahn Air’s business.
The carrier began operation as an independent regional airline in 1994 using turboprops such as the Swearingen Metroliner and acquired its first business jet, a CJ2, in 2005. It then switched to the Beechcraft Premier I until 2011, when changes in IATA’s Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) warranted an upgrade to the CJ4, the first of which Hahn Air acquired in 2011. Another was delivered in December 2013, and a third last year replaced the original aircraft.
To pass the IOSA–which assesses the operational management and control systems of an airline and accommodates both FAA and EASA standards for commercial air transport–the twinjet required modifications, according to Hahn Air general manager and COO Daniel Rudas.
These included installation of a lockable cockpit door, modification of the emergency exit floor path lighting, the addition of emergency markings to various potentially dangerous external protuberances such as the pitot tube, the angle-of-attack vane and static discharge wicks, and revision of the emergency information card at each of the eight passenger seats.
Wow Factor’
As a commercial carrier, Hahn Air codeshares with Luxembourg airline Luxair and also conducts connecting flights from major airlines to Luxembourg Findel Airport, transferring through Dusseldorf. Passengers who typically arrive on larger commercial aircraft are unprepared for their next leg of the trip, according to Rudas.
“Normally they don’t know what they are expecting, it’s not a GA terminal, it’s a normal airline terminal, and then they arrive at the airplane looking for a passenger jet and oops, it’s a private jet,” he told AIN. “That’s the moment of the a-ha and the wow effect, and when we land, every passenger asks for photos, it’s nice.”
The 155-mile flight takes approximately a half hour, and for the morning Luxembourg-bound segment passengers are provided with a cold breakfast; snacks are offered for the afternoon return flight, with self-serve coffee, tea and soft drinks always available. Tickets sell for between €250 and €500 one-way, depending on when they were purchased and whether the reservations are changeable.
“The flight is short, and if we’ve got three passengers we’re operating more or less break even,” said Rudas.
Those short flights are balanced by longer charter flights to destinations such as the Canary Islands, which take more than four hours from Dusseldorf. “Hahn Air has plans to extend its service to medium- and long-haul flights,” said Rudas, adding that the carrier purchased a new Cessna Citation Sovereign in August for delivery this November. It is considering expanding scheduled service to another route, possibly Spain’s Balearic Islands such as Majorca or Ibiza.
With its all-business-jet airline service, Hahn Air has already outlasted a failed U.S. venture built on a similar business model. In 2000, Chicago-based NewWorldAir Holdings launched a flight operation named Indigo, which offered “regular and frequent” service between the Windy City and New York, starting with Dassault Falcon 20s and later upgrading to a pair of 16-seat Embraer Legacy Shuttles.
While the company at one point planned expansion to 50 aircraft, it found neither the time nor the funding it needed as the country entered a recession and venture capital dried up. Several other ventures have tried unsuccessfully to provide per-seat operations on business jets.
(Curt Epstein - AINOnline News)

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