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9 May, 2007 - 10:24 By Staff Reporter

MAXjet bids for £100m AIM listing

Low-cost, long-haul pioneer, MAXjet plans to expand its Stansted operations to take in new Middle and Far East routes, funded by a planned IPO on AIM. The carrier hopes to raise around £50m through the float, which will value it at £100m.

The proceeds, according to the company, will be used to pay down debt as well as expand its fleet and route network.

Further US expansion is the company’s first priority, a strategy underpinned by the recently agreed ‘open skies’ regime between Europe and the US, due to come into force at the end of March next year.

“The signing of an Open Skies agreement between the United States and the European Union on April 30 provides exciting growth opportunities,” said MAXjet chief executive Bill Stockbridge in a statement.

“We intend to first add additional US cities from Stansted and then expand to other routes.”

Stockbridge said that in “2008 and beyond” his company would seek to add routes to the Middle East, Africa and Asia, with Stansted remaining its central base of operations.

He described Stansted as “conveniently situated relative to the key financial districts and City regions of London.”

He said: “At London Stansted, the company’s passengers enjoy the convenience of an in-terminal train station, fast check-in, fast-track security, and an exclusive airside departure lounge.”

Having built a fleet of five Boeing 767-200s, MAXjet said it plans to bring another online later this year, adding a seventh in the summer of next year.

The news of MAXjet’s float gives context to the extensive reshuffling recently seen in the company’s boardroom, a cull that has seen founding chief executive, Gary Rogliano replaced by former chairman, Stockbridge and a new CFO and COO appointed.

Stansted management has made no secret of its desire to expand its route network eastwards, with its ability to argue a compelling case for the construction of the planned second runway hinging on an ability to diversify from the short-haul low-cost model that made its name.

Launching its maiden low fares, all-business class flight between the Essex hub and JFK in New York in November 2005, MAXjet has since added routes to Las Vegas, Washington, and more recently, Los Angeles.

San Jose, with whom East of England inward investment chiefs have established close links was the favourite to win the West Coast route, but having lost out to LA this time around, says it still harbours hopes of winning MAXjet’s favour before the end of the year.

MAXjet reported turnover of £20.5m in its first full year of operations, carrying more than 75,000 since flights started in 2005. The carrier said that load factors for its main New York and Las Vegas flights were 75 per cent last month.

After a number of years with no transatlantic air link, the East of England now boasts a choice of four carriers: Eos; Silverjet, which floated last year and operates a service from Luton to New York; Flyglobespan, which flies to Toronto; and MAXjet.

MAXjet’s fares range from £599 to £2,019 return, including taxes and fees.

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