Volotea is officially an-Airbus airline following the retirement of its Boeing 717 fleet last month. The carrier now only operates the Airbus A320 family of aircraft and plans to expand this fleet. The airline is considering ordering more A320s depending on demand during the summer season.
On January 10th, Volotea operated its last Boeing 717 flight and retired the type from its fleet, ending the jet’s history in Europe. The carrier operated 14 of the type at the end of 2019 but quickly began retiring the planes between October 2020 and January 2021, according to Planespotters.net. Volotea brought its fleet modernization program forward from 2023 due to the current market conditions.
To replace the retired 14 aircraft, Volotea plans to add 15 new Airbus A320 family planes. This will be a mix of the 180-seat A320 and 150-seat A319. This will boost the airline’s fleet from 20 to 35 aircraft by the summer. Additionally, Volotea can also add four more planes if it sees demand in the short-term.
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In a statement explaining the fleet changes and the timing of this move, Volotea President Carlos Munoz said,
”We will continue to grow thanks to our strategy of connecting small and medium-sized European cities with each other with a more modern and competitive aircraft model, the Airbus A320, which offers 20-25% lower operating costs than [our] previous Boeing 717s. This increased competitiveness will be highly needed in the post-Covid context of the coming years, where less demand is likely to occur.”
Relatively good year
While most airlines have been avoiding high capital costs on new planes, Volotea is sensing an opportunity. The carrier notched an exceptional 90.7% load factor in 2020, at a time when most airlines were at a fraction of that figure. While traffic did fall by 49% overall, efficient route planning and a large domestic market meant it kept flights full.
Considering the impressive year behind it, Volotea is hoping for an even better summer 2021 season. The fleet modernization will reduce operational costs, such as maintenance and training, and help carry more passengers per flight.
The airline will also expand its route map this year, with new routes to Algeria from its base in France. As vaccinations roll out across Europe, Volotea is hoping to be in pole position for an eventual aviation and tourism recovery.
717 fading away
With Volotea now officially ending 717 operations, only three airlines around the world are flying this classic DC-9 derivative jet. Two operators are based in the US, Delta and Hawaiian Airlines. The former operates the largest fleet of 717s with 85 aircraft, while the latter flies 19 of the type. The last operator is Qantas subsidiary QantasLink, which flies 20 of the type.
Have you ever flown a Boeing 717? Will you miss these class jets? Let us know in the comments!