Air Malta examines options for Airbus fleet replacement

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Airbus operator Air Malta is beginning the process of seeking replacements for its leased fleet of A319s and A320s, Peter Davies, chief executive of Air Malta tells Flightglobal.

"Our first leases are up for re-negotiation in 2016 so the timing is right to start fleet replacement discussions," he says. The carrier has a total of 12 A319 and A320s, with 10 in service. All save one are leased from ILFC.

The other two aircraft, both CFM International CFM56-5B-powered A320s, have been sub-leased to Mexico's Interjet (MSN2189) and OLT Express Poland (MSN2142) as part of Air Malta's on-going restructuring plan, which saw it cut its capacity by 10% in 2011, and a further 10% reduction already achieved by mid-year. These leases continue until 2016.

The emergence of new technology engines with CFM International's Leap and Pratt & Whitney's geared turbofan, and their promise of significantly lower fuel burn, is of major interest, says Davies. "With fuel representing 30-35% of our costs and with an average sector length of 2.5 hours these engines should make a real difference."

Air Malta will review the narrowbody offerings from Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer, says Davies. "We are too small to have a mixed fleet so we've got to go with one family of aircraft."