Dublin-based CityJet is forging a partnership with Spanish carrier Air Nostrum to create a pan-European regional airline group.

With a combined fleet of almost 100 aircraft and annual revenues of around €700 million, the new group says it will provide “synergies that will result in a very efficient proposition to the market”.

The deal is subject to obtaining the requisite regulatory approvals and the preparation of the relevant filings has begun, the two carriers said.

CityJet employs 1,250 people across nine European countries with a fleet of 44 aircraft operating a network of services under wet lease contracts with Air France, Brussels Airlines and SAS.

The airline operated more than 80,000 flights in the last year carrying over 4.7 million passengers. The fleet includes 22 new Bombardier CRJ900 regional jets.

Valencia-based Air Nostrum, with 1,450 staff, operates as a franchise carrier for Iberia flying to more than 60 destinations within Europe and Africa, with a fleet of 50 aircraft, including 30 Bombardier CRJ1000 regional jets.

Air Nostrum also provides wet lease services for carriers including Lufthansa, SAS, Binter and Croatian Airlines.

CityJet chief executive Pat Byrne said: “There are so many things we have in common with Air Nostrum, especially the fact that we both operate large fleets of Bombardier CRJ 900 and CRJ 1000 aircraft which we believe is a robust and economic platform and ideal for wet lease contracts.

“Our combined fleets would represent a total fleet strength close to 100 aircraft.

“By coming together, we believe we will be in a position to respond to the specific needs of customer airlines through our flexibility in the provision of safe, dependable and quality assured operations.

“Our respective proven capacity and asset management expertise in acquiring aircraft for new wet lease contracts is also a significant added benefit we can provide to our airline customers.’’

Air Nostrum president Carlos Bertomeu said: “Europe is experiencing substantial expansion of wet lease contracts, otherwise known in North America as capacity purchase agreements, as established airlines pursue a strategy of outsourcing their regional flying programmes.

“By CityJet and Air Nostrum finding a formula for combining their respective resources in terms of aircraft, crew and support services, this will undoubtedly result in a far more comprehensive and cost effective option for leading airlines in Europe to outsource their regional networks with confidence in the strength of this proposed new entity as an ideal partner for such activity’.’