How Chile’s Sky Airline Became An All-neo Operator In 15 Months

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The Chilean low-cost carrier Sky Airline is the second operator worldwide to have a 100% A320neo capacity. More impressively, it has transitioned into becoming a full neo operator in only 15 months, gaining a few extra benefits along the way.

Sky Airline
Sky Airline has renewed its fleet and now operates 100% with A320neo. Photo: Getty Images

Looking at Sky Airline’s fleet

Sky Airline is a low-cost operator which started flying in 2001. It has a hub at Santiago de Chile’s Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport. The airline currently has a fleet of 19 Airbus A320neo aircraft, plus six on order, according to Planespotters.net.

Before that, it had up to 13 Airbus A319, ten A320-200, and 22 Boeing 737-200 at different parts of its history. The last 737 exited the airline in 2015.

In September 2018, Sky received its first Airbus A320neo, which led to a full renovation process. In a CAPA interview with IATA’s vice-president Peter Cerdá, José Ignacio Dougnac, Sky’s CEO, said,

“Well, before the pandemic, we were going through a really important transformation in terms of being much more friendly than we used to be. And that’s why we forced the fleet transition. We actually managed to change 100% of the fleet and become a full neo operator in only 15 months.”

Sky Airline
Sky Airline operates domestically in Chile and Peru. Photo: Getty Images.

What do we know about the XLR fleet?

In 2019, Sky Airline signed a Purchase Agreement for ten A321XLRs. Holger Paulmann, Sky’s CEO at that time, said,

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“This new aircraft fleet will allow us to expand our offer of international and wide-ranging routes, always under our successful low-cost model and its extremely convenient ticket prices. Now passengers can enjoy new and very attractive destinations on the most modern airplanes in the market.”

Sky expects to receive its first A321XLR in late 2023. The airline hopes that this aircraft will help develop its vision of connecting more routes on airports and giving passengers the opportunity to access really cheap fares to multiple destinations within the region, said Dougnac.

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For instance, the XLR will allow Sky access to the US both from Lima and Santiago, its two hubs in Peru and Chile. The A321XLR could be a gamechanger in South America.

The Airbus A320XLR is the future for Sky Airline. Photo: Airbus.

What benefits has Sky Airline had?

The Chilean airline is planning to be the best low-cost carrier for South America. To achieve this, having the youngest, most efficient fleet is one of the main priorities.

For example, with its older fleet, Sky Airline generated roughly 100 grams of CO2 per passenger per flight. Now, with the new A320neo fleet, it reduced this by 40%.

“We’re now one of the most environmentally friendly airlines in the world,” said Dougnac. Other initiatives include the use of electrical ground equipment, policies, and procedures friendlier with the environment.

Nevertheless, Sky is still looking for the government’s support to access other sources that help reduce contamination, such as biofuel.

Currently, Sky Airline faces a new border closure by the Chilean Government. Moreover, Sky has two competitors in Chile, LATAM and JetSmart. Last year, the five Chilean airlines carried 6.3 million domestic passengers, a 57.4% decrease compared to 2019. LATAM had a 57.8% market share, Sky Airline 24.5%, and JetSmart 16.7%.

What do you think of Sky Airline’s fleet renewal program? Let us know in the comments.

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