Body Count: JetBlue and Southwest Eye Aircraft Offload (Plus Titbits on that AWAS A320 Deal)

It’s lucky for JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines that the market for Airbus and Boeing narrowbodies remains strong (at least for now). Both US low-cost carriers are readying to offload excess assets to keep capacity growth in check.

JetBlue has confirmed it will only increase capacity this year by between 6% and 9% compared to the 11% to 13% range advised for 2007. To accomplish this, the carrier is considering selling more aircraft (in addition to the two A320s it will sell in the second quarter), returning leased aircraft and postponing deliveries (pretty much what it did last year). Having this sort of flexibility, says JetBlue, is an asset. (Photo from www.jetblue.com/about/whyyoulllike/about_whyairbus.html)

It’s an all too familiar story. Among a bevy of US carriers cutting capacity in the face of rising fuel costs and a potential slowdown in demand, Southwest in December said it will slash as many as 10 737s from its already-amended growth plan (which includes the disposal of some owned 737-700s). The carrier’s new plan calls for a net addition of no more than 10 737s this year.

On a separate note, Irish lessor AWAS – which today placed a firm order for 75 Airbus A320 family aircraft - has confirmed the following:

1) The company can pick and choose the mix (A318s/A319s/A320s/A321s).

2) Deliveries of new Airbus narrowbodies to AWAS will begin in 2010; an end date has not been disclosed.

3) An engine selection for the 75-strong order has not yet been made. AWAS is currently in talks with manufacturers.

So is there room for AWAS to swap out later deliveries should a Airbus narrowbody successor come on board? What do you want – all the answers?

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