British Airways parent IAG has continued its aircraft shopping spree with an order for up to 220 A320s.
The shopping lists consists of 58 firm orders and 62 options for Vueling, the low cost subsidiary based in Barcelona that IAG only took full control of in April of this year. Unlike IAG’s other Spanish holding, Iberia, which has been bleeding heavy losses, Vueling has been consistently profitable and this new order is a mark of just how much faith IAG’s top brass have in the airline.
Vueling currently operates an all Airbus fleet of 70 aircraft and although some of the new aircraft, set to be delivered from 2015 onwards, will be used for fleet replacement, an equal number will be used to aggressively chase market share in an already cut-throat European market.
Commenting on the order, Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG stated: “Vueling has managed to successfully expand its business profitably by targeting both growth markets and those areas where weak competitors are reducing capacity. These new aircraft will enable Vueling to continue that expansion and replace some of its older fleet with modern, fuel-efficient aircraft, leading to further unit cost reductions.”
On top of the 120 A320s earmarked specifically for Vueling, IAG also has options for a further 100 of the aircraft which may ultimately be assigned to either Vueling, Iberia or British Airways.
British Airways currently operates an all Airbus short-fleet out of Heathrow but has a number of ageing 737s based at Gatwick that need replacing. However, while IAG seems keen to commit to Vueling’s short-haul expansion, for British Airways the emphasis is very much on the renewal of its ageing long-haul fleet with 12 A380s on order, 42 787s 18 A350s & 6 777-300s. The first of the airline’s new A380s and 787s were recently delivered to the airline and go into normal service next month to Los Angeles & Toronto respectively.