Frankfurt-based Condor has been going through some changes lately. Until recently, the airline operated under the Thomas Cook umbrella. Following their bankruptcy last year, ownership of Condor passed to the Polish Aviation Group, owner of LOT Polish Airlines.
Time for some decision making at Condor
This has set the scene for some decision-making at the 65-year-old airline. Chief amongst the decision making is what to do about Condor’s fleet of aging long-haul aircraft.
Condor operates a fleet of 15 Boeing 757-300s and 16 Boeing 767-300s. The youngest of these planes is nearly 19 years old. The oldest, a 767, is a stately 27 plus years old. These planes took passengers as far afield as Mexico, South Africa and Thailand.
What to replace these aircraft with was a subject discussed at a media briefing in late January. As reported in Flight Global, Polish Aviation Group’s CEO, Rafal Milczarski, said he wanted 20 new aircraft for Condor, with the first coming to the airline in 2024.
An inclination toward the 787?
Given that Condor’s new sibling, LOT Polish Airlines, operates a fleet of shiny Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, there was an assumption Condor would go down the same route. On many levels, it makes sense. There are obvious synergies and savings the two airlines could harness if they operated like aircraft.
On the flipside, 787-8s are expensive, perhaps too expensive for Condor’s new owners. Maybe they could turn to the second hand 787 market? Jetstar is said to be shopping four of its 787-8s about, looking for a buyer.
Regardless, Rafal Milczarski, said he would be looking beyond the 787 and Boeing for his new planes. That would represent a shift in direction for LOT Polish which doesn’t currently operate Airbus aircraft.
As Henry Bewicke wrote in Simple Flying last month, there is no shortage of options.
What about the A350 as an alternative?
What about the A350 as an alternative? They are similar-sized aircraft that carry a similar number of passengers (this does depend on cabin configuration). Nick Cummins weighed up the pros and cons of the A350 versus 787 in Simple Flying last year.
He noted the advantage of the A350 over the 787 is that the A350 can fly considerably further with a larger payload than the 787. But, the 787 is a more fuel-efficient aircraft and has a lower operating cost per seat.
Which aircraft is best for Condor will depend a lot on what plans the Polish Aviation Group has for the airline. The A350 is a good airline if you are a premium carrier carrying a lot of high fare-paying passengers. Condor has long been a leisure airline. Unless the new owners are planning a significant strategic shift, Condor may not generate enough revenue to cover the A350’s higher operating costs.
All of which tends to point to the 787 as a better fit for Condor.
It may be remiss not to throw the A330 into the mix, some people suggesting the A330-800 as a good fit. This is despite it being a slow seller for Airbus. Condor already has an A330 (albeit the 200 version). With a list price of USD$260 million, the A330-800 is a relative bargain compared to the top of the line versions of the 787 and A350.
Boeing 787 a better fit for Condor
Despite Rafal Milczarski inferring at January’s press briefing that he is a little weary of Boeing and their trial and tribulations, commonsense suggests the 787 remains the best fit for Condor. The cost per seat is lower which suits Condor’s leisure heavy market. There’s the existing 787 infrastructure, resources, and know-how at LOT Polish Condor could harness to keep costs even lower.
Finally, if the Polish Aviation Group doesn’t want to slap down the Mastercard for new planes, they could take LOT’s 787s as they are phased out from that airline. Alternatively, they could call existing sellers.
Which plane is better for Condor’s fleet replacement? I’m calling it for the 787. What do you think? Post a comment and let us know.