Clickair and Vueling scale back fleets for merged carrier

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Merging Spanish carrier Vueling's fleet will comprise 35 Airbus A320s when it launches its joint operations with Clickair next month, reflecting the fleet cuts its two constituent carriers have made over the last 18 months.

Barcelona-based Vueling began scaling back its fleet at the start of 2008 as part its major restructuring efforts to turn around losses. It has gone from a fleet of 24 aircraft at the start of 2008 to 16 today. A further aircraft is returning from dry-lease to take it to the 17 A320s it will bringto the merged airline.

Clickair only began scaling back its fleet last summer as fuel prices hit a recordhigh, coming down from a peak of 26 aircraft. Havingjust completed arrangements coveringthree more aircraft, Clickair chief executive Alex Cruz says: "We have met our target. We will go into the merged company with 18 aircraft."

Cruz, who will be chief executiveof the merged carrier, says there are no plans to increasethe fleet in the immediate term, adding thatdecisions about next summer will be made later this year. "The new board expects a three-year plan in place in October, and it hassent a message saying no growth will not be tolerable," he says, but adds: "We have a pretty clear objective for the next year."