National Jet Italia to begin British Airways franchise flights

After a long gestation period, National Jet Italia (NJI) is set to finally begin operation on 11 July. The new airline, which is being established in cooperation with Australia’s National Jet Systems (NJS), will operate a fleet of BAe 146-300s on British Airways franchise flights from Rome. Initial services will employ two former Uni Air BAe 146-300s on four daily flights to Palermo, in Sicily. Catania, also in Sicily, will be added later in the summer. Services to both cities will gradually be built up to eight a day. NJI’s 146s will be configured in a two-class configuration, with 12 Club Europe (business class) and 82 Euro Traveller (economy class) seats and painted in full British Airways livery. British Airways and NJS first considered starting an Italian franchise operator in early 1999, using NJS’s proposed acquisition of Cityjet. When this deal fell foul of European regulations, efforts turned to starting a new airline, but were delayed by a wide variety of financing, regulatory, and technical problems. Two former Uni Air 146-300s have been awaiting delivery in Woodford for most of the year, and three more were ferried from storage in Taiwan at the end of 1999.

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