Colombian flag carrier Avianca is the world’s second-oldest airline, having begun life over 101 years ago as SCADTA. During more than a century of operations, Avianca has operated a wide range of aircraft. At the smaller end of the scale are the 10 examples of the Airbus A318 that it flew during the 2010s. Let’s take a closer look at the story of these planes.
A 10-aircraft Baby Bus contingent
Avianca began flying the Airbus A318 in 2011. Lovingly nicknamed the ‘Baby Bus,’ this small but mighty aircraft is the shortest variant from the European planemaking juggernaut’s popular A320 family. According to data from ATDB.aero, the Colombian flag carrier received all 10 of its A318s during 2011, of which nine came directly from Mexicana.
The other example came from leasing giant GECAS (having also previously flown for Mexicana). Avianca’s first A318 bore the registration N590EL, and arrived on January 26th, 2011. June 6th that year saw the final A318 arrive at Avianca. This aircraft was registered as N598EL. Five of Avianca’s A318s had been built in 2004, and the other five in 2005.
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Time to go
All in all, the Airbus A318 had a presence in the fleet of the Colombian flag carrier for around eight years. Avianca began to phase the Baby Bus, which it typically used on domestic routes during its tenure at the airline, out of its operations in September 2019.
The first of the ten A318s to go was N595EL. October 2019 then saw a further two departures, namely those of N594EL and N596EL. November 2019 was Avianca’s busiest month in terms of A318 retirements, as it was a month that saw it bid goodbye to five of its short-fuselage Airbus narrowbodies. This just left December for the final two departures.
N597EL was the penultimate A318 to leave Avianca, doing so on December 3rd, 2011. Five days later, N598EL’s departure brought the Colombian flag carrier’s relationship with the Baby Bus to a close. Rather aptly, N598EL had also been the last A318 to join Avianca. Its final flight took it from Bogotá to Marana, Arizona via Houston, Texas (for a technical stop).
Avianca’s remaining A320 family aircraft
All of Avianca’s A318s went into storage after leaving the carrier, with scrapping awaiting despite their relatively young age. Seven aircraft joined N598EL in Marana (MZJ), whereas the other two went elsewhere in Arizona, to Phoenix Goodyear Airport (GYR).
Today, Avianca continues to operate a good number of larger aircraft from Airbus’s A320 family, as well as a handful of next-generation A320neos. According to data from ch-aviation.com, the Colombian flag carrier presently operates the following A320 series jets:
- A319-100 – 21 aircraft.
- A320-200 – 55 aircraft.
- A320neo – 21 aircraft.
- A321-200 – 7 aircraft.
What are your memories of Avianca’s Airbus A318 fleet? Did you ever fly on one of the Colombian flag carrier’s Baby Busses? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.