Established by entrepreneur Pat Byrne in 1993, CityJet pioneered services between Dublin and London City Airport in January 1994 under a franchise agreement with Virgin Atlantic Airways.
CityJet formed a partnership with Air France in 1996, and eventually transferred into Air France ownership in 2000, with the majority of services then operated under the Air France brand.
CityJet continued to develop its role as a key airline in the London City market in addition to growing its network of connecting European cities to the Air France hub in Paris-CDG. CityJet’s original fleet of Bae146 aircraft was replaced by a fleet of Avro RJ85s in 2007 and also supplemented by Saab 2000 turboprops for a period in the late-1990’s.
During this time, CityJet also acquired VLM, a Belgian airline flying Fokker 50 turboprops, which specialised in London City services.
In 2014 Air France sold CityJet to Intro Aviation, who briefly managed it until it was acquired by a business consortium led by its original founder, Pat Byrne. CityJet embarked on a major programme of expansion and strategic development in 2015, whilst retaining all of the excellence which is at its core.
Under its new ownership, CityJet rebranded in 2015 with a refined livery, reflecting its newly independent spirit and dedication to passenger service and quality.
CityJet continued to undergo significant advancement in the following years. In addition to its RJ85 aircraft operating CityJet-branded scheduled services and wet lease services on behalf of Air France, the airline secured a wet lease contract to operate a fleet of 90-seat regional jets for SAS Scandinavian Airlines, commencing in 2016. As part of this activity, CityJet ordered 22 new CRJ900 aircraft and acquired both Finnish airline Blue1 in 2015 and Danish carrier, Cimber, in 2017.
In recent years, CityJet has refocused its activities to exclusively be a provider of “wet lease” services to major airlines, whereby it provides service on an aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance (ACMI) basis to fly on behalf of its customer airlines. Scheduled services under the CityJet brand ceased in October 2018, at which point all flights were on behalf of customer airlines.
CityJet was a major provider of ad hoc charter services, including being the official airline for the Republic of Ireland soccer team for the Euro 2016 finals and for Leinster Rugby, with whom it also had a sponsorship agreement.
A wet lease operation on behalf of Brussels Airlines commenced in 2017, initially with SSJ100 aircraft before transitioning to CRJ900s. It also started flying for Aer Lingus in 2018 to operate RJ85s between Dublin and London City Airport.
In 2019, CityJet had over 1,250 employees with 30 aircraft on wet lease to airlines across Europe, including Aer Lingus, Air France, Brussels Airlines, Hop, Lufthansa and SAS, flying over 1,500 flights with 100,000 passengers per week. Crew were based at eleven locations across Europe to support this operation.
Having restructured as a result of the pandemic in 2020, today CityJet’s flight operations are focused on Scandinavia in support of its contract with SAS, for whom it operates 18 CRJ900 aircraft based at Copenhagen and Stockholm.
Across everything we do, the focus of all 600 people at CityJet on safety and excellence is paramount. We aim to be the best, with the best people to deliver this. We are proud to continue to play our part in European aviation’s expansion and development and commitment to safe flying.
Click on an image below to enlarge it. With thanks to Malcolm Nason (c) for many of the historic photos. Photos may not be used without permission.