Vueling takes a new flight course with expansion plans
Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling - or as its chief executive Alex Cruz describes it, an airline that happens to have low operating costs - held a futuristic event at Barcelona's Museum of Contemporary Art in a room mocked up as an aircraft cabin to outline its future growth plans. Flightglobal's Miquel Ros was among those watching the show:
While the economic crisis continues to dominate the headlines coming out of Spain, at least one airline seems to be thriving, while pursuing, unabated, ambitious growth plans.
The challenging economic environment and the strong presence of Ryanair and Easyjet in its home market has not deterred Vueling, that is expected to deliver positive financial results this year, from it plans to add nine additional new A320-family aircraft to its fleet and roll out 28 new routes out of Barcelona next spring. With this expansion Vueling's network out of the Catalan capital will reach a hundred destinations.
At a news conference yesterday, Vueling's chief executive Alex Cruz, who defines the airline not as a low cost carrier but as an airline with low operating costs, outlined the company's growth strategy, that involves increasing the number of passengers on connection flights (already 20% of its traffic) and new services that will take the carrier further away from its original no-frills model.
New business class
A key novelty is that Vueling is rolling out a proper business class, that will be called "Excellence". To be fair, Vueling had already launched a number of services aimed at frequent fliers and the corporate market, such as "Vueling Pass", that gives access to a set of premium services for an annual fee. The new business class, however, is a qualitative step forward, since it will get its own dedicated space in the cabin.
Vueling also plans to roll out wi-fi across its fleet, starting with a limited number of aircraft.
When it comes to new routes, Germany takes centre stage, with six new destinations being added (Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Dortmund, Dresden, Hannover and Stuttgart). Vueling is also going to increase significantly its presence in Italy (Bologna, Bari, Catania, Turin), the Nordics (Bergen, Helsinki, Gothenburg, Oslo) and Morocco (Casablanca, Fes, Nador, Tangiers).
Among the most eye-catching flights are the new twice daily flights between Barcelona and London Gatwick. Although Vueling already flies between London Heathrow and a number of smaller Spanish cities, it was until nowthe only major European capital left out of its Barcelona network.
This network expansion includes domestic services to Valladolid, Pamplona and Valladolid as well as new routes to Rennes (France), Rhodes and Kos (Greece), Banjul (the Gambia), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Luxembourg.
If you are unfamiliar with the Vueling story, check out the Airline Business cover interview with Alex Cruz from May 2010 here.
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