Mexico’s Volaris seeks to lease 24 additional A320s

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Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris is seeking to complete lease deals on several additional A320s as the carrier focuses future fleet expansion on the A320 rather than the smaller A319.

ATI reported last month that Volaris was placing into service three additional A319s in November and December, giving it a fleet of 24 A319s and two A320s. Volaris CEO Enrique Beltranena says these aircraft are being leased from CIT and the carrier is now evaluating bids from 21 leasing companies offering additional A320s.

He says Volaris last month issued a request for proposal to lease up to 24 IAE V2500-powered A320s, including 12 aircraft within the next couple of years. "We had 21 companies participating in the RFP," Beltranena says.

He says Volaris has already inked a memorandum of understanding for three A320s which the carrier hopes will be added in the first quarter of 2011. He declines to identify the leasing company providing these aircraft as the deal has not yet been completed and Volaris still needs to inspect the aircraft.

Beltranena says the A320s to be leased are in addition to the aircraft Volaris has on order from Airbus. According to Flightglobal's ACAS database, Volaris has an outstanding order for 18 A320 family aircraft. Beltranena says the carrier has four new aircraft delivery slots in 2011, all of which are now slated for the second quarter.

Volaris has the flexibility in its order to specify the A319 or A320 but is now looking only to add A320s. "We're getting out of the A319 concept. We will most probably be [only taking] A320s," says Beltranena, adding the recent RFP specified the A320.

For the first half of 2011, Volaris now plans to add three leased A320s and the four purchased A320s, giving it a fleet of 24 A319s and nine A320s by the end of June. Beltranena says he is still working on the fleet plan for the second half of the year and no aircraft are currently contracted.

The three recently added A319s are being used to expand Volaris' US operation and add 10 daily flights back at its Toluca base which were eliminated when Volaris expanded at Mexico City in September.

For the first half of next year, using the seven additional aircraft, Volaris plans to continue its US expansion as well as expand further at Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. Volaris executives expect during 2011 the Mexico City operation will be expanded from 11.5 daily flights to 20 to 25 daily flights.

Volaris' largest base, Tijuana, will expand by about 20% from 29 daily flights currently while its Guadalajara base will expand by about 30% from 20 daily flights currently. Volaris is not planning any growth next year for Toluca, where the carrier will soon be back to 15 daily flights having dropped 10 daily flights in late September.