Titan moves to all-A320 narrowbody fleet

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UK charter operator Titan Airways is planning to replace its mixed narrowbody fleet with Airbus A320s over the next six years, while its combined passenger and cargo business model is changing due to lack of replacement options for its ageing Boeing 737-300 quick-change aircraft.

The Stansted-based airline introduced its first A320 in March 2013 and plans to add a second one before the 2014 holiday season, says Alastair Kiernan, commercial director. The management had also evaluated the 737-800 as the only modern Boeing type that would be both affordable and suitable for Titan's operations, he says, but then opted for the European aircraft family.

Aside from the International Aero Engines V2500-powered A320, Titan's fleet comprises four 737-300s - three QC variants and a pure freighter - three 757-200s, a 767-300ER, a Cessna Citation 525A as well as a BAE Systems 146-200QC and an Avro RJ100. The latter two regional jets will be retired by the end of October, however.

The 737-300s are expected to remain operational over the next 3-4 years, says Kiernan. This should allow completing the contract with Royal Mail, which was extended in June until 2017. The UK postal services provider has engaged Titan for night mail flights over the last two decades, with the current agreement involving the 737-300F and two -QCs that operate on passenger flights at daytime.

This business model will need to change as there is no replacement for the QC aircraft is on the horizon. However, Kiernan says that Titan's business has also shifted to "predominantly" passenger flights over the last few years. The 737s and 757 will thus be replaced with A320-family aircraft.

The carrier is also evaluating whether to continue widebody services. Kiernan says that it has been difficult to market the 767-300ER as the type cannot be as flexibly deployed as a narrowbody due to the larger crew size. A replacement aircraft, such as an A330, would only be purchased in combination with a charter contract for at least two years, he says.

It is therefore possible that Titan will move out of widebody operations, he adds.