Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

Condor Berlin, the new subsidiary of Lufthansa charter arm Condor Flugdienst, has increased its Airbus Industrie A320 order from six to eight aircraft.

The new airline, based at Berlin/ Schönefeld Airport, was founded at the beginning of this year and began operations in early March. Its fleet of A320s, in Condor's typical 174 seat configuration, will be leased by the parent airline. These will replace four Boeing 737-300s which Condor is now leasing from Germania to serve the Berlin market. These aircraft are to be returned to Germania in October.

The first CFM International CFM56-powered A320 was delivered in February, with the next two arriving in March and April, and three more due by the end of November. Condor says that it decided to convert two of its six options as a result of market growth. A follow-on order for up to 12 aircraft remains a possibility, but is not part of current plans.

Condor has invested more than DM400 million ($250 million) in the subsidiary and its fleet. Its goal is to be able to compete with carriers like Aero Lloyd and Air Berlin, which Condor says are offering prices only a smaller low cost airline can match. Condor estimates that its subsidiary's costs will be about 20% lower than the parent airline's.

The aircraft are seen as a complement to Condor's current fleet of 26 Boeing 757-200s and 767-300ERs. The first of 12 757-300s will be delivered next January. The A320s will intially operate from bases at Erfurt, Hanover and Stuttgart, but will be put into service on any Condor routes where they are needed.

From April, Condor will serve 16 destinations in the Mediterranean region and the Canary Islands directly from Tegel and Schönefeld, with an additional 20 destinations via links into Condor's long range network. The entire network will total 69 destinations from 20 German airports.

Source: Flight International