On July 23, the European Commission approved the creation of a joint venture between Air Nostrum (YW, Valencia Manises) and CityJet (WX, Dublin Int'l), thus paving the way for the creation of Europe's largest regional airline.

The JV will formally be between CityJet's parent Fortress Investment Group and Air Nostrum's parent Air Investment Valencia. The EC found that despite the existence of an overlap between the two carriers' activities in the field of ACMI and charter operations, the merger will not distort competition.

"The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns, because the companies have moderate market shares, a sufficient number of competitors remains on the market and the barriers to entry are low," the European authority said.

Following the approval by the EC, the creation of the JV still has to be finally cleared by the shareholders of both companies. If approved, the JV will be established by way of purchase of shares in a newly created company constituting a joint venture.

Air Nostrum currently provides ACMI and charter services, as well as scheduled flights under a franchise agreement with Iberia as Iberia Express. The carrier's fleet includes five ATR72-600s (and a further three wet-leased from CanaryFly), twenty-seven CRJ1000s (including three operated by subsidiaries Hibernian Airlines and Medavia), seven CRJ200s, and five CRJ900s, of which all ATR72-600s and CRJ200s, twenty-two CRJ1000s, and three CRJ900s are operating as Iberia Express.

For its part, CityJet currently operates exclusively as an ACMI/charter specialist, having ended own scheduled flights in October 2018. The airline operates ten ARJ-100s and twenty-seven CRJ900s, the ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows.

Air Nostrum's current ACMI customers are Brussels Airlines (SN, Brussels National), Croatia Airlines (OU, Zagreb) and SAS Scandinavian Airlines (SK, Copenhagen Kastrup) while CityJet operates for Aer Lingus (EI, Dublin Int'l), Air France (AF, Paris CDG), Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa (LH, Frankfurt Int'l) and SAS.