Avianca Airlines Retires Its Final Airbus A318 Babybus

On Tuesday, Avianca Airlines closed the decade by saying goodbye to one of its aircraft. The firm retired the last of its Airbus A318 planes within its fleet.

Avianca A318
All of Avianca’s A318s joined the company in 2011. Photo: Joao Carlos Medau via Flickr

The last ride

Registration N598EL made its final departure at the Colombian flag carrier’s hub at El Dorado International Airport, Bogotá at 09:42. Here, it served flight AV4960 to Marana Airport, Arizona. However, there was a technical stopover at George Bush International, Houston on the way. Finally, the plane landed at 15:51. All times are local. 

Despite its journey across the Americas to the United States for its final destination, this unit was mostly used on local Colombian routes.

Baby of the bunch

Avianca was one the remaining commercial airlines to use the aircraft type. It acquired all of its 10 A318s from Mexicana de Aviacion eight years ago but started phasing them out this year.

Avianca A318 Plane
The A318 was first introduced in 2003. Photo: Joao Carlos Medau via Wikimedia Commons

The narrowbody is the smallest airliner in the Airbus family, typically seating between 90 and 110 passengers. It also has a range of 5,750 km (3,100 nm).

Frontier Airlines was one of the other major operators of the “Babybus”. It even was a launch customer but it also retired all of them after 10 years of service.

Now, Air France is one of the largest carriers that still flies the plane, with 18 of them in its holdings. British Airways does also operate the aircraft but it only holds one of them.

According to Transponder 1200, this last model went to Texas to be stored as it prepares to be scrapped. With its low capacity, the high operating costs make it hard to justify the operation of the jet in comparison to its counterparts. There are hardly any airlines running the type. Meanwhile, those that have chosen it are having a hard time keeping it in their fleet.

Restructuring process

Avianca has been going through a tough time recently with troubling financials forcing it to search for more loans. Therefore, it is trying out ways to reorganize in order to improve its situation.

Airbus A318 Avianca
The carrier has closed the decade with an eventful year. Photo: Joao Carlos Medau via Wikimedia Commons

During the summer, it announced the sale of these A318s, along with four A320ceos to the US Fortress Transportation and Infrastructure Investors (FTAI) for $160mn.

Despite the emotional goodbye and struggling financials, Avianca has spent the end of the year celebrating a huge milestone. The oldest airline in South America celebrated its 100th birthday at the beginning of the month. 

There have been plenty of farewells for the airline throughout the century but it always managed to keep going and come out stronger.

Simple Flying reached out to Avianca for comment on the retirement of its A318s but did not hear back before publication. We will update the article with any further information.

Are you a fan of the Airbus A318? Let us know your thoughts on its retirement under Avianca in the comment section.