Vueling fleet evaluation still ongoing but key to IAG plans

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Vueling's evaluation of new-generation types to replace its Airbus A320 family fleet is still to be completed, but remains a priority for new owner IAG.

Prior to its acquisition by the British Airways and Iberia parent in April, Vueling was closing on selection of a new aircraft. Types under evaluation by the Spanish low-cost airline included the A320neo, Boeing 737 Max and Bombardier CSeries.

Speaking during an analyst call earlier today, IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said the evaluation was ongoing, but seen as an important part of the airline's strategy: "That [fleet replacement] programme remains on course... It's ongoing, and no decision has been made. It's one of the areas where [chief executive] Alex Cruz felt that Vueling could benefit as part of the IAG group."

Vueling operates an all-A320 family fleet of 71 aircraft, comprising 67 A320s and four A319s. The fleet is a mix of CFM International CFM56 and IAE V2500 powered versions, which Walsh says has a negative impact on cost.

"The way Vueling has succeeding in growing has been at the expense of an ad hoc fleet... which adds additional cost, so there is quite a significant benefit to addressing that issue. We see fleet renewal as being a key to further improving the cost per ASK [available seat-kilometre] in Vueling, which is already performing very well," he says.

Cruz concurs: "Vueling operates A320s only, but we are so conscious on cost that to have two different kinds of engines for us is a big deal."