Why An Alaska Airlines A320 Flew Over Europe Today

On Friday, an Alaska Airlines Airbus A320 could be spotted above France, making its way from Scotland down to the Balearic Islands in Spain. On lease from Carlysle Aviation Partners, the aircraft is part of Spanish all-Airbus budget carrier Volotea’s strategy to position itself competitively as the industry rebounds post-crisis.

Alaska Getty
If looking up at the skies over the UK and France today, keen spotters could have seen an Alaska Airlines A320 pass by overhead. Photo: Getty Images

Love At First Flight

While set to change with the introduction of JetBlue’s Airbus A321LR on routes to London, it is usually an uncommon sight to see US airlines’ narrowbodies on this side of the Atlantic. However, earlier this afternoon, an Alaska Airlines A320 arrived at Palma De Mallorca Airport.

Of course, the aircraft registered as N623VA did not fly straight from the States. It arrived in Spain from Bangor, Maine, via Glasgow in Scotland. The 15-year-old jet began its journey at 06:44 local time on Thursday, spent the night in the UK, and continued towards Mallorca at 11:18 today.

This was its last flight as N623VA. The plane, beginning its service with Virgin America in 2006, is to be handed over to Spanish low-cost carrier Volotea and re-registered as EC-NOL. Furthermore, its new caretaker has already named it ‘Love At First Flight’.

Why An Alaska Airlines A320 Flew Over Europe Today
The aircraft came from Bangor in Maine by way of Glasgow in Scotland. Photo: RadarBox.com

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Familiar wingtips

This is not the first time an Alaska A320 joins the Volotea fleet. In March, N621VA, currently known as EC-NNZ, made the exact same journey. Both aircraft are leased from Miami-based Carlyle Aviation Partners and were stored at multiple locations across the US, including Victorville, Greensboro, and San Antonio International, before making the journey eastwards.

Leasing the A320s is part of Volotea’s strategy for increasing capacity as it has retired its Boeing 717s and transitioned to an all-Airbus fleet. While in existence for only nine years, Volotea has had a history as Europe’s last 717 operator, having flown a total of 19 of Boeing’s out-of-production jet.

Volotea Airbus A319 Verona
Volotea recently transitioned to an all-Airbus fleet and is leasing planes to increase capacity. Photo: Getty Images

Will operate 15 A320s

Currently, Volotea has a fleet consisting of 20 Airbus A319s and six A320s, excluding today’s addition from Alaska Airlines. All of the A320s have arrived since January this year. Three of the newcomers are currently in storage, waiting for European countries to ease their travel restrictions.

The Barcelona-headquartered carrier is set to lease at least an additional nine A320s (including today’s addition) as it looks to increase competitiveness during the post-COVID recovery phase. It has kept options open for four more. The planes have previously worn the livery of airlines such as Aeroflot, GoAir, and competitor Vueling.

Speaking at an online conference in March, Volotea’s CEO Carlos Muñoz said that the airline was also looking at potentially acquiring Airbus A220s.

What do you think of Volotea’s future fleet plans? How will the airline continue to grow? Leave a comment below and let us know.