The Airbus A350 Is Being Seriously Considered By Hi Fly

Hi Fly is an all-Airbus wet lease operator. Focused on a mainly widebody fleet, the airline operates the A330, A340 and even the A380. But what about the A350? Simple Flying caught up with the CEO of Hi Fly, Dr. Paulo Mirpuri, to ask whether the A350 was in the airline’s future plans.

Hi Fly A350
Could an A350 be in Hi Fly’s future? Photo: Airbus

Does Hi Fly want the A350?

Portuguese wet lease specialist Hi Fly is well known for its one and only A380. Alongside this, it operates a number of other Airbus models, including the A330neo. As an airline well invested in widebody aircraft and committed to Airbus, it’s almost a no-brainer that the A350 would arrive at some point.

Simple Flying asked Dr. Mirpuri whether Hi Fly would ever consider the A350 for its operations. The Doctor was very clear in his reply, saying,

“For sure the A350 is under serious consideration.”

He went on to tell us what he thought of the aircraft, saying,

“Is a fantastic aircraft. It’s in strong demand, but we need to balance the simplicity of the fleet against the positive and the negative aspects. For a company like Hi Fly, we do try to cover the market needs but not to diversify too much.”

Hi Fly Airbus fleet
Hi Fly operates many Airbus models, but not the A350. Photo: Hi Fly

Already, Hi Fly is an all-Airbus airline. In fact, it always has been. Since it was incorporated in 2005, it has operated a total of 38 aircraft, according to Planespotters. Included in its past fleet are A310s and A320s, as well as 17 A340s, of which it still operates nine.

With firm plans to phase out the A340 in the next couple of years and a growing demand for wet lease services, what would it take for Hi Fly to add the A350 to its order books?

A growing fleet

Hi Fly is keen to expand its fleet. In June last year, Dr. Mirpuri is reported by CH-Aviation to have alluded to targeting a fleet of 100 aircraft eventually. He said,

“I think we can grow a lot more. I think we could grow eventually to over 100 aircraft. This year alone we’re phasing in five aircraft. Over the next 10 years we could reach 100 aircraft – probably sooner.”

Hi Fly A330 neo
Hi Fly got its first A330-900neo at the end of last summer. Photo: Hi Fly

Right now, the airline has nine more A330neos set to join its fleet, adding to the one it received at the tail end of last summer. These ten are likely to serve as replacements for the nine A340s that are in the process of being phased out.

The A330-900 is an incredibly versatile aircraft and offers great flexibility for Hi Fly’s customers. However, it lacks the passenger capacity and range of larger aircraft like the A350 and, indeed, the A380, of which Hi Fly has one.

Are larger aircraft needed?

Previously, Dr. Mirpuri told Simple Flying that the A380 was in high demand, getting up to 30 requests a day for its service. However, the lack of airports with the right infrastructure for the type is putting the company off from acquiring any more.

Hi Fly A380
The Hi Fly A380 is very much in demand. Photo: Hi Fly

Surely then, if airlines are demanding large aircraft on a regular basis but the A380 has its own inherent issues, the A350 would make a sensible investment for Hi Fly. Dr. Mirpuri was clear that it is under serious consideration, but summed things up by saying,

“We need to keep the unit costs as low as possible for our customers. So, if you ask me would I like to have 350’s in my fleet do if I feel there is a market? For sure. What you need to realise is that if it is economical for Hi Fly to do so again, we need to wait.”

Reading between the lines, it sounds like Hi Fly would indeed place an order for A350s, but not for just one. The A330neo order was the first time Hi Fly had bought any aircraft direct from Airbus, and likely their 10 unit order attracted a useful discount. As such, perhaps Hi Fly is waiting until it’s in a position to order double digits of the type in order to secure a similarly effective knockdown.

What do you think? Would the A350 be a good fit for Hi Fly? Let us know in the comments.