London City Top Carrier Sold Back to Founder After Airport Deal

  • Intro Aviation sells CityJet to chairman and founder Pat Byrne
  • Transaction follows London City airport sale at steep premium

Pat Byrne, chairman of CityJet Ltd., purchased the carrier he once founded -- less than a month after the sale of London City airport.

Byrne, his management team and an unidentified consortium of private equity companies purchased CityJet, the largest airline at the airport, from Intro Aviation GmbH, the German company said in a statement, without disclosing financial details. Intro acquired the carrier from Air France KLM Group in 2014 and Byrne rejoined CityJet a year ago as chairman.

“The change in ownership will give us access to the necessary capital to allow CityJet to move forward and continue the transformation,” Byrne said in the statement. “There are lots of profitable emerging opportunities in the European regional aircraft segment and CityJet is now well placed to take advantage of these.”

Under Intro’s ownership, CityJet became the first European customer for the Russian Sukhoi Superjet, which is scheduled to join the fleet in July next year, and also acquired Blue1 in Helsinki, a former unit of SAS AB, for which it now operates a major wet lease program.

Global Infrastructure Partners on Feb. 26 said it sold London City to an investor group led by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board and Borealis Infrastructure. The winning bid was about 44 times London City’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of 45.8 million pounds ($64.8 million) in 2014, said people with knowledge of the matter.

The price prompted fears among airlines that the airport may raise fees, with Willie Walsh, chief executive officer of British Airways owner IAG SA, warning that any increase in expenses may prompt the carrier to reduce capacity there.

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