VLM Airlines is planning to enhance its fleet with the introduction of a jet aircraft for the first time. The 92-seat BAe 146-300 will enter service on April 16th, 2007, and will be operated on one of the airline’s busiest routes between London City and Rotterdam.
The jet is being introduced into VLM Airlines’ fleet to enable it to increase capacity on one of its busiest routes, where it will operate alongside the carrier’s Fokker 50 aircraft. The airline will maintain its ten return flights each weekday between London City and Rotterdam, with four to be operated by the BAe 146. The airline carried over 130,000 passengers on the route in 2006, and estimates that it will carry around 190,000 in 2007.
The VLM Airlines BAe 146-300 will seat up to 92 passengers, in a spacious five abreast (3+2) configuration, with leather seats and a generous seat pitch of 32 inches. This is a stark contrast to most other large airlines which offer up to 110 seats on this type, in a tight six-abreast (3+3) configuration, with a seat pitch of just 28-29 inches.
Johan Vanneste, Managing Director of VLM Airlines comments: “We are delighted to be introducing the BAe 146 jet to our fleet. Increasing numbers of business travellers are utilising our network and, in particular, our London City to Rotterdam service, and this larger, faster aircraft is essential to meet this growing demand.”
The jet’s arrival will release some Fokker 50 capacity from its London City to Rotterdam route, allowing VLM Airlines to increase frequencies on other routes within its network. The airline currently operates a fleet of 19 Fokker 50 aircraft, and will add a further two of the aircraft to its fleet this year.
The aircraft’s performance will be evaluated over the course of 2007 and, if it integrates successfully into the carrier’s operation as expected, VLM Airlines will consider introducing additional BAe 146 aircraft on other high-density routes in its network. The carrier is currently assessing the feasibility of introducing jet services on a further six of its existing routes from London City Airport, whilst a further 20 destinations, all over 500 km from London City Airport, are also being evaluated.
The inflight product offered on board the VLM Airlines BAe 146-300 will remain at the same high level of quality that the airline’s passengers have come to expect, with complimentary snacks and drinks being offered by the airline’s cabin crew. In addition, the aircraft will operate in the full livery of VLM Airlines, thereby ensuring a complete experience that the airline’s passengers are accustomed to.
Over the past 14 years VLM Airlines has grown to become the largest operator flying to and from London City Airport, and now offers over 100 flights each weekday, representing some 36% of all movements at the airport. Rotterdam is the airline’s second largest base, with ten flights each weekday to London City, two services each weekday to Hamburg and two every weekday on its recently introduced service to Manchester.