Avianova to add leased A320, on lookout for more

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Russian low-cost carrier Avianova will take delivery of a sixth leased Airbus A320 before May and is looking for additional aircraft as it expands its operations.

"Beyond that, we're still talking to lessors with a view to taking further deliveries in the summer," says Avianova chief executive Andrew Pyne.

He declines to specify the number of additional A320s but says all will be original 180-seaters configured down to 170 seats.

Cabin capacity reduction is intended to meet the latest Russian customs regulations, which came into force last month and provide for waiving duties on imported single-class aircraft accommodating fewer than 170 passengers.

Previously, the capacity ceiling allowing carriers to avoid import taxes had been set at 160 seats, which is why Avianova last year pulled some 20 seats out of the cabins of its five A320s.

The airline now wants to take full advantage of the new regulation. Commercial director Michael Hayden says: "We need to ferry these aircraft abroad, add 10 seats on each of them and bring them back as newly-leased. We'll do this over the coming weeks."

Avianova is seeking to increase capacity in line with broadening its reach domestically and internationally. It has just started serving Tyumen and Surgut from Moscow with Surgut-Krasnodar flights to be launched later this month.

In mid-June, it will venture into the cross-border market by introducing four weekly services from Moscow to Simferopol in Ukraine.