In March, the outbreak of the corona virus threw a spanner in the works, but Thorpe, who lives in Denmark, is now fully working on the project, according to AeroTelegraph. For example, he says he is now looking for staff.
In terms of aircraft type, the choice fell on the Embraer 170, which can accommodate up to 78 passengers. Maleth Aero from Malta will conduct the flight under her own AOC. In this way Extrajet remains a ‘virtual airline’ and the start-up costs can remain low.
Extrajet focuses specifically on the business market. Destinations will be flown twice a day from home base Antwerp. Thorpe thinks he can make a profit with an occupancy rate of fifty percent and ticket prices of three hundred euros per single journey.
The fact that the demand for business air travel has been greatly reduced by the corona crisis does not deter Thorpe. There may even be advantages: he expects staff to be easier to find and aircraft lease rates lower. In addition, competitors have disappeared. Also, according to Thorpe, people will have to travel again as soon as the situation normalizes, “probably more than before”.
The arrival of Extrajet would be a welcome boost for Antwerp Airport. At the moment, only Air Antwerp maintains a purely business flight connection from the airport to London City. That scheduled service resumed Monday after an interruption of six months. In addition, TUI fly maintains a number of tourist routes to destinations in the Mediterranean.