Lithuanian startup Heston Airlines has taken delivery of its second Airbus A320. The aircraft arrived from Ireland, delivered by Dublin-based leasing company Genesis. The airline also recently received its Air Operators Certificate (AOC).
Second aircraft delivered to Heston
With two Airbus A320 (LY-FJI & LY-VUT), Heston Airlines is now ready to launch operations. Originally, the airline had planned to launch in April and was originally going to operate three Airbus A320s, but reports suggest this has been reduced to two.
The newest aircraft (LY-VUT) is just over 17 years old and used to operate flights for Air New Zealand. The airline’s first A320-200 (LY-VUT) arrived in March and is also just over 17 years old. It used to fly for easyJet and actually arrived in Vilnius in November 2020 to undergo maintenance.
Pat Madigan, Head of Commercial at Genesis, said,
“Genesis is delighted to deliver this second aircraft supporting the commencement of operations at Heston Airlines. We look forward to building on this achievement as markets recover with further expansion in the near future.”
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For the time being, Heston plans to operate flexible charter flights. The startup airline is aware of the uncertainty and volatility in the current market and wants to react and offer solutions where and when they are needed.
The airline received its AOC last week. According to the airline’s website, operations are due to commence this month which would mean operating a flight within days. However, this could well slip into June.
The airline is taking bookings for both charter flights and wet leasing services. Interestingly, the airline also offers freighter services on its A320s with “zero seat configuration.” Freight has been crucial for many airlines over the last year, and it could well prove a valuable service for Heston.
Charter flights during recovery
Heston Airlines’ decision to operate charter flights may prove to be a saving grace over the coming months. With the industry in recovery but still hampered by changing travel restrictions, flexibility is key.
Charter operations will allow the airline to operate flights on-demand as soon as restrictions allow. For some airlines, low demand and a lack of confidence mean regularly scheduled flights are not yet an option. Here, Heston could effectively mop up the remaining demand and cherry-pick the best routes.
However, there is no denying this is a difficult time to start an airline. Demand is still very inconsistent, and restrictions aren’t making it easier. Starting up an airline is tough at the best of times, and with most airlines making massive losses last year, the cut-throat industry is arguably even more competitive now.
Airlines are having to be more flexible in their routes and cancellation policies which means charter flights, which always had the edge when it came to flexibility, have a fight on their hands.
Do you think Heston will be successful in the current market? Do you think charter and special freight flights are the answer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.