The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will probe Irish regional airline CityJet’s plans to place aircraft on long-term wet-lease with International Airlines Group (IAG) Irish carrier Aer Lingus.

In late August, Dublin-based CityJet announced plans to relinquish operating Dublin-London City in its own right, instead flying six return weekday flights on behalf of Aer Lingus, with a reduced service at weekends..

The deal covers two of CityJet’s Avro RJ85 regional jets from Oct. 28. The aircraft will fly in Aer Lingus colors, with the IAG carrier’s service model on board.

Dublin to London is Europe’s most heavily trafficked international air route.

On Oct. 12, the CMA issued an initial enforcement order (IEO), saying it had “reasonable grounds” to suspect that the deal could blur the lines over assets of the two companies, meaning that they could cease to be “distinct.”

While Aer Lingus and CityJet have been allowed to continue with the agreement, they must now send report weekly reports about the wet lease to the CMA, informing the body of any changes.

These reports must include any planned or actual changes in slot “use and preservation” at London City and Dublin airports, as well as any aircraft changes, service interruptions and changes to the agreement itself.

“Failure to comply with this order, without reasonable excuse, may result in the CMA imposing a penalty of up to 5% of the total value of the turnover (both in and outside the UK),” the CMA said.

CityJet has been steadily scaling back its scheduled network, instead taking on a series of wet-lease contracts for Air France, Brussels Airlines and Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), with more than 40 aircraft based in nine locations across Europe. This number includes 22 Bombardier CRJ900s acquired specifically for the wet-lease services.  

At the time of publication, neither Aer Lingus nor CityJet had replied to ATW’s request for comment.

Victoria Moores