ALTA 2010: Aerolineas to grow 737NG fleet through ILFC leases and new order

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Aerolineas Argentinas has agreed to lease 10 ex-Virgin Blue 737-700s from ILFC and is planning to place an order with Boeing for 14 additional 737-700/800s.

The flag carrier announced on 19 November a lease deal with ILFC for 10 737-700s for delivery in 2011 and 2012. Speaking to ATI and Flightglobal at the ALTA 2010 Leadership Forum in Panama, Aerolineas chief commercial officer Juan Pablo Lafosse says the 10 737-700s are coming off lease from Australia's Virgin Blue and five will be delivered to Aerolineas next year with the remaining five to be delivered in 2012.

According to Flightglobal's ACAS database, Virgin Blue currently leases 10 737-700s from ILFC which were manufactured in 2001 and 2002. Virgin Blue is intending to replace these aircraft with new 737-800s from its large outstanding 737 order.

Aerolineas currently operates 12 737-700s, which it took in 2009. Lafosse says the carrier aims to continue growing its 737-700 fleet after the last of the ILFC aircraft are delivered and is planning to place an order for 14 new 737-700/800s for delivery in 2013 and 2014.

The SkyTeam-bound carrier currently operates 10 737-500s in addition to the 12 737-700s. Lafosse says the -500s, which are currently mainly used on domestic routes while the -700s are mainly used on short and medium-haul international routes, are now scheduled to be phased out in 2012

Lafosse last October told ATI and Flightglobal that Aerolineas aimed to phase out its 737-500s by the end of 2010. But at the time the carrier was aiming to lease several 737-800s in 2010 - aircraft that it did not end up securing.

Lafosse now says five 737-500s will exit the Aerolineas fleet next year and the last five in 2012, completing Aerolineas' narrowbody fleet renewal programme. Aerolineas first batch of 12 737-700s replaced the carrier's 737-200s. Lafosse says the next batch of 10 737-700s are being acquired mainly as 737-500 replacements while Lafosse says the following batch of 14 737-700/800s will be a mix of growth aircraft and replacements for some of its older 737-700s.

Lafosse says Aerolineas' new medium-term fleet plan envisions a total 737-700/800 fleet consisting of 40 aircraft by the end of 2014.