Viva Air Colombia’s First A320neo Spotted

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Painted nose to tail in bright yellow, Viva Air Colombia’s first A320neo paraded out onto the tarmac in Toulouse, France, last week. The new color is a big departure from Viva Air Colombia’s mostly white aircraft. No matter how busy the airport, this brand new A320 will be easy to spot in the crowd.

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Viva Air Colombia’s first A320neo has rolled out of the Airbus factory in Toulouse. Photo: Airbus

The plane, to be registered as HK-5352, was photographed on September 11. She was rolling down the taxiway at Toulouse about to undertake her first flight.

The first of many A320neos for Viva Air Colombia

This aircraft is the first of many A320neos the Colombian low-cost carrier expects to take in the new few years. In 2017, the airline signed an agreement to buy 50 single-aisle Airbus aircraft, including 35 A320neos. The airline said it was purchasing the planes to modernize its fleet and grow its network.

“Airbus is pleased to play a major role in supporting Viva Air in its exciting journey to develop the low-cost model throughout Latin America,” said Airbus Customers Chief Operating Officer, John Leahy, at the time.

Viva Air Colombia remains optimistic about the future

Since beginning operations in 2012, Medellin-based Viva Air Colombia has gradually built its fleet up to 22 A320-200 planes. Now Colombia’s third-biggest airline, that slow and considered growth has held the airline in good stead this year. While half of Viva Air Colombia’s fleet is parked, the airline hasn’t tinkered with its Airbus order and remains optimistic about growth opportunities in Central and South America.

“We do believe that there are going to be more opportunities in the market and business opportunities as well because the market is going to be reconfigured, and we have to be vigilant and agile to take advantage of those market opportunities,” Viva Air Colombia’s Chief Executive Officer, Felix Antelo, told Finance Colombia.

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The experienced operators behind Viva Air Colombia are another reason why the airline is riding out 2020 better than most. Viva Air Colombia is a private company backed by Irelandia Aviation. In addition to its Colombian airlines, Irelandia Aviation is behind Ryanair, Allegiant Airlines, Tiger Airways, and VivaAerobus. Irelandia Aviation likes to run its airlines lean, keeping costs down, and that gives it an advantage over struggling legacy competitors.

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To date, Viva Air Colombia has operated a fleet of A320-200s. Photo: Judes9809720 via Wikimedia Commons

Keeping the fleet simple helps Viva Air Colombia power forward

Besides ownership, one common denominator between these airlines is their straightforward fleets. Felix Antelo has been a big fan of the existing A320s Viva Air Colombia flies. He told Finance Colombia,

“The most efficient aircraft operating in Colombia is the Airbus A320. It also has a very efficient configuration due to the number of seats we have, and, as you well know, they consume less fuel. They have more reliability, (and) they fly more hours between maintenance.”

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The A320neo builds on the A320’s efficiencies. CFM LEAP-1A engines will power the A320neos. These highly successful engines have sold around the world. They promise to bring further efficiencies to Viva Air Colombia. Airbus says that the engines and aircraft design improvements should cut fuel costs by 20%.

That will be music to the ears of Felix Antelo and his bosses in Ireland. 2020 has proved a challenging year for airlines in Colombia. Most international flights remain suspended. But when things start getting back to normal, Viva Air Colombia wants to be well placed to capitalize on it. Its shiny yellow A320neos will help it do that.

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