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Air France Said to Prefer Intro Aviation as CityJet Buyer

Air France-KLM Group has reached a preliminary agreement to sell its CityJet regional airline to German turnaround specialist Intro Aviation GmbH, three people familiar with the process said.

A decision on the sale still depends on final due diligence, and an agreement may be reached within a month, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. Air France KLM spokeswoman Brigitte Barrand had no comment, and Peter Oncken, managing director of Intro Aviation, declined to comment.

CityJet, the No. 1 carrier at London City Airport, has been up for sale since September, as Air France seeks to revamp its regional operations to end years of losses. CityJet serves the London airfield near the city’s financial center, with more than 20 destinations across Europe.

Intro was co-founded by retail entrepreneur Hans-Rudolf Woehrl. Intro bought German airline Deutsche BA from British Airways Plc for one euro in 2003. The airline, renamed DBA, was “rehabilitated within a few months” according to Intro’s website. Intro went on to sell DBA to Air Berlin in 2006.

Intro also bought a majority stake in the unprofitable Dusseldorf-based LTU Group in 2006, restructured it, and sold the charter carrier the following year to Air Berlin.

Dublin-based CityJet has a fleet of 38 aircraft, including Avro RJ85 and Fokker 50 carriers, and more than 480 weekly flights across Europe, according to its website.

The business reported a 6.2 million-euro ($8.1 million) operating loss for the nine months through December 2011 on revenues of 238 million euros, according to its most recent set of accounts filed with the Irish companies office. Air France does not break down CityJet’s figures in its interim or annual reports.

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