CITYJET is to axe its loss-making Edinburgh-London City route in October, leaving British Airways with a monopoly on the route for the first time in a decade.
The Air France-KLM subsidiary has thrown in the towel in the face of “very tough” competition from BA on the key business link.
However, chief executive Christine Ourmieres told The Scotsman the decision was unrelated to the airline’s impending sale.
She said there would be no job losses, or changes to CityJet’s Dundee-London City route or the Edinburgh-Paris flights it operates for Air France.
Ourmieres said the landing slots at London City used by the four-times-a-day Edinburgh service would be switched to increase frequency on its other routes. CityJet is the Docklands airport’s main airline, with 22 other routes. BA commands around two-thirds of passengers on the Edinburgh route, with up to eight daily return flights.
It launched flights on the route in 2003 in competition with ScotAirways, with CityJet taking over the route in 2007.
The Edinburgh move comes as another setback for CityJet, which last year planned to expand in Scotland by launching Aberdeen-London City flights, only for BA to get in there first.
Ourmieres said the Edinburgh move had come despite increasing load factors – the proportion of seats filled.
She said: “It was a very difficult decision but the route has been loss-making for quite a number of years.
“We have tried many things to improve profitability, such as different aircraft and fare offers, but it is no longer commercially viable.
“BA has been very tough competition, and it is better to just accept that at some point.”
However, she added that the recession had cut the airline’s yield – income per seat – with more passengers now seeking the lowest fares.
Ourmieres said she expected CityJet’s sale, reportedly to German firm Intro Aviation, to be concluded “as soon as possible”, although it may not be until next month.