CityJet executive chairman, Pat Byrne, right, at a Berlin aviation conference where the aircraft deal with Superjet International was announced in October, with Superjet International boss, Nazario Cauceglia. CityJet has 15 firm orders and 16 options
Negotiations by CityJet owner Intro Aviation to exit its investment in the Dublin-based airline are close to being finalized, it's believed.
The German owner has been in talks since the spring about selling the carrier, it's understood, with speculation having mounted once founder Pat Byrne returned to the airline as executive chairman in February.
If the negotiations are successfully concluded in coming weeks, it's believed that Intro will no longer be a shareholder in CityJet, which has recently embarked on an ambitious expansion plan. CityJet declined to comment.
There has been a significant amount of activity at the airline since Mr. Byrne's return, with the executive chairman having effectively driven the changes, it's believed.
It's highly unlikely that he would continue to run CityJet without having a stake in it. Intro Aviation is thought to be in talks with an investor connected to the aviation industry.
The carrier, sold by Air France-KLM to Intro Aviation last year, recently placed firm orders for 15 Sukhoi Superjet aircraft and took options on 16 more.
That order is worth over $1bn at list prices. The Superjets will be used to replace the existing CityJet fleet and expand services.
Under the Superjet agreement, the aircraft are being bought by UK-based aviation financing and leasing firm Falko. It will then lease the jets to CityJet.
Earlier this year CityJet inked a sale and leaseback of its existing fleet of Avro BAE jets with Falko.
CityJet also secured a major deal with Scandinavian carrier SAS to operate a regional service on its behalf.
As part of that contract, CityJet acquired 100pc ownership of SAS subsidiary Blue1. The Irish airline also placed an order for up to 14 Bombardier aircraft that will be used to operate the service for SAS.
Intro Aviation is believed to have paid nothing for CityJet when it acquired it last year, while Air France-KLM also wrote off tens of millions of euros in debts owed by CityJet to the parent, and also indemnified it against ongoing litigation in France.