Start-up carrier People’s Vienna Line – which is particularly unusual in that its ultimate owner is an airport operator – has bought an Embraer 170 from Finnair to begin operations on March 28, 2011.
The new airline will offer three-times-daily service on weekdays and one round-trip each day on weekends between St.Gallen-Altenrhein Airport (ACH) in Switzerland and Vienna International Airport (VIE) at Schwechat near the Austrian capital.
Owned by St.Gallen-Altenrhein Airport’s recently established subsidiary Altenrhein Luftfahrt GmbH, People’s Vienna Line is headquartered in Dornbirn, just across the Austrian border from St.Gallen-Altenrhein. The airport brands itself as ‘People’s Business Airport’, hence the new airline’s name. Because the airline will be headquartered in Dornbirn, it will be an Austrian-registered operator.
“With the new airline, we continue what we started with the airport. We provide the passenger to the center and focus our offering on their individual needs from booking to landing,” says Armin Unternährer, CEO of People’s Business Airport St. Gallen-Altenrhein.
Founded by Mark Kopf, People’s Vienna Line will outfit its ex-Finnair Embraer 170 with 76 seats in a single-class configuration. Finnair Aircraft Finance Oy, Finnair’s fleet-management subsidiary, announced on December 31 that it had agreed the sale of the aircraft to Swiss company Altenrhein Realco AG.
Like Altenrhein Luftfahrt GmbH, Altenrhein Realco AG is a subsidiary of Airport Altenrhein AG, the operator of the airport. Altenrhein Realco AG will presumably lease the aircraft to People’s Vienna Line or else sell the Embraer 170 to sister company Altenrhein Luftfahrt GmbH upon completing the purchase of the aircraft from Finnair.
The aircraft will be transferred to its new owner in March 2011, according to Finnair. The sale was arranged by Jetscape, a commercial-aircraft leasing, management, remarketing and advisory services company. According to the Embraer 170/190 Jets Forum at www.embjets.net, the aircraft is believed to be the Embraer 170 currently bearing the Finnish registration OH-LEL, which has the manufacturers serial number 17000139.
People’s Vienna Line has hired four crews of two pilots plus two flight attendants for the service. All four captains have already been chosen; they are locally based and are familiar with the airport, according to People’s Business Airport.
Until now Austrian Airlines has operated three daily round-trips between St.Gallen-Altenrhein Airport and Vienna through its Tyrolean Airways subsidiary, which operates as Austrian Arrows. However, on October 19 People’s Business Airport announced it had canceled its route contract with Austrian Airlines with effect from the airport’s summer 2011 schedule, leaving People’s Vienna Line with a monopoly to begin service.
According to Flightglobal’s Fleetwatch blog, however, Austrian Airlines argues it is entitled to five years’ notice of cancellation of the route contract. Accordingly, it is possible that People’s Vienna Line and its ultimate owner St.Gallen-Altenrhein Airport may have to face legal challenges from Austrian Airlines in the future.
People’s Vienna Line’s schedule between St. Gallen-Altenrhein Airport and Vienna Schwechat calls for the carrier’s flight 100 to depart ACH at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays and to arrive at VIE at 7:30 a.m. On weekdays, flight 104 is timed to leave ACH at 10:00 a.m. and land at VIE at 11:00 a.m. Flight 108 will push back at ACH at 5:05 p.m. in order to reach VIE at 6:05 p.m. On Saturdays, flight 102 will depart ACH at 7:30 a.m. and arrive at VIE at 8:30 a.m., while on Sundays flight 108 will operate on the same timetable as on weekdays.
In the other direction, flight 101 is scheduled to push back from the gate at VIE at 8:10 a.m. on weekdays and to land at ACH at 9:10 a.m. Flight 105 will leave VIE at 3:00 p.m. and reach ACH at 4:00 p.m. Flight 109 is timed to depart VIE at 6:55 p.m. in order to arrive at ACH at 7:55 p.m. On Saturdays, flight 103 will leave VIE at 9:10 a..m. and get to ACH at 10:10 a.m. On Sundays, flight 109 will operate on the same schedule as on weekdays.
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