Spirit A319 still undergoing repairs

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Spirit Airlines says an Airbus A319 that sustained an engine failure last month will return to service only late this year or in early 2014.

The aircraft pylon holding the powerplant must be replaced, Spirit chief executive Ben Baldanza tells Flightglobal on the sidelines of the Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit in Baltimore today.

"It's going to take a while," he says. "That's usually not something that is changed on an aircraft. It's going to be a six to eight week effort and it's already early November."

The International Aero Engines V2500 powerplant failed in-flight on the A319 on 15 October, which forced the Atlanta-bound aircraft to return to Dallas/Fort Worth International airport.

Baldanza says it is still not clear what went wrong with the engine, adding that investigations are ongoing. Spirit has estimated an additional $10 million in costs in the fourth quarter due to this incident.

Baldanza explains that this cost includes the expense of wet-leasing at least one aircraft to replace the A319 that is now out of service. While the airline usually has spare aircraft, it expects that it will be required to wet-lease an aircraft during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday season to ensure that it operates all of its flights, says Baldanza. The $10 million cost will not include the cost of fixing the engine, which will instead hang on the airline's balance sheet and will be amortised over time, he adds.

He estimates that the IAE V2500 engine involved in the incident had performed 1,200 - 1,400 cycles since its last restoration at the time of the incident. "We bought that engine new," says Baldanza.

Spirit expects to recover some of the $10 million cost through some form of insurance or compensation, which will then be accounted for in the first or second quarter of 2014.