UK: Air Europe phoenixes fly in the face of fortune.

UK: Air Europe phoenixes fly in the face of fortune. - It is often at the worst of times that the best opportunities arise. And, surprisingly perhaps, it seems that in the long-suffering airline industry, some judge that the time is now. For out of the d

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

It is often at the worst of times that the best opportunities arise. And, surprisingly perhaps, it seems that in the long-suffering airline industry, some judge that the time is now. For out of the disastrous collapse of Air Europe two phoenixes have arisen - one the baby of former managers of Air Europe Express, the other a still tentative venture which is led by the ex-finance director of Air Europe's failed parent, International Leisure Group.

This latter venture, Crawford Aviation, has the blush of ex-ILG chairman Harry Goodman written all over it. But Crawford managing director Hugh Parry insists that the none-too-popular Goodman is "neither a director nor shareholder", though it is admitted that he will feed business to the new airline through his travel consultancy.

Crawford has already attracted objections to its application for an air charter licence - and Parry admits that the market will be tight, but "it's an excellent time to get in on a low cost base".

The first venture, Euroworld Airways, is widely cashing in on past lessons. Director Jim Bond says that the salaries of its former Air Europe Express staff have been knocked down by 25%, while each of its scheduled UK routes is having to justify itself. Fortunately the group's four Shorts 360 aircraft can be leased at 75% of the price paid in the heady days of the past, when recession was not envisaged and no reduction in the forward march of air travel was anticipated.

Backed by institutions led by 3i, the fledgeling Euroworld is already succeeding in getting bottoms on 55 to 60% of its seats - "beyond all expectations", Bond says. "Everybody is significantly worse off," he jokes sardonically, "but probably happier."

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