Latvian charter start-up carrier Alpha Express Airlines is planning to begin operations with an Airbus A320 in February and introduce another narrowbody by the summer.
The Riga-based airline was established in March 2012 and began cargo flights with an A300 after gaining its air operator’s certificate and operating license last April. However, that aircraft was returned to its UAE-based lessor during the summer of 2013.
Alpha Express has since been planning to start passenger flights with A320s and cargo services with ATR 72 turboprops.
The first A320 is to be delivered in the current month and due to begin holiday charter flights in February, says Alpha Express managing director Rolands Ramins. The International Aero Engines V2500-powered aircraft (MSN 747) was built in 1997 and belongs to Dublin-based FLY Leasing. The twinjet is managed by BBAM in San Francisco and currently undergoing a C-check. It has been leased for two years.
A second A320 is to be added for the summer schedule, although no details have yet been finalised as the airline is still negotiating a leasing deal, says Ramins.
By summer 2014, the carrier also wants to “at least start the process” of leasing an ATR 72 and obtaining all documentation for the planned cargo operations, he adds.
Both A320s are to be used for leisure flights from Baltic and Scandinavian airports on holiday routes to, for example, Mediterranean destinations, the Canary Islands and Egypt. A number of tentative deals have been arranged with tour operators, pending the first aircraft’s delivery, says Ramins.
ACMI operations are also planned in future.
Ramins declines to reveal targets for passenger numbers and revenue because, he says, the figures have changed throughout the airline’s operational planning. The carrier employs around 30 staff members, including pilots and cabin crew.
Line maintenance has been arranged by the airline. Given the comparatively short lease period, no scheduled heavy airframe maintenance should be necessary except for a lease-return check which is part of the BBAM deal.