IAG has detailed its efforts to cut costs by harmonising aircraft configurations across the short-haul fleets of its three operators.

British Airways, Iberia and Vueling have some 260 Airbus A320s between them, including the fleet of Iberia Express, spread across more than 25 bases.

But IAG head of group strategy Geoffrey Weston, speaking during an investor briefing, said non-harmonised specifications lead to higher purchase and maintenance expenditure.

Intra-fleet transfers, he adds, become “almost impossible”.

Weston says that Airbus offers around 400 choice across 250 categories for cabin configuration, avionics and emergency equipment.

He explains that items examined for interoperability in the forward door area alone range from galley structures and cooling equipment to cabin crew seat covers, tap systems, lavatory doors and emergency signs.

Weston says the three carriers have sourced cockpit windows from three suppliers, pointing out that there is a 30kg difference between the lightest and heaviest – representing a potential €2,800 ($3,500) saving in annual fuel burn per aircraft.

Two operating companies had a second cockpit jump-seat, weighing 12kg and costing around €50,000. These have been removed, says Weston, adding that this decision also cuts the maintenance cost.

Removed items cut 80-120kg from the aircraft’s weight while another 100-380kg saving can be achieved by switching to lighter seats. Overall weight reduction can reach 220-470kg, says Weston, with a €20,000-45,000 saving in fuel burned annually by each aircraft.

He puts the overall cost-saving per aircraft from harmonisation at €500,000 to €1 million, with 40% sourced from avionics and systems changes and another 30% from revised cabin definition. Group joint-procurement savings account for the other 30%.

Weston adds that the savings from unnecessary downstream maintenance and modifications are “enormous”.

BA, Iberia and the low-cost operators are also shifting to higher-density seating arrangements to improve the fleet flexibility. “In a world of dedicated aircraft it’s hard to move things around,” says Weston.

Harmonised aircraft will be easier to transfer not only between Iberia’s and Vueling’s fleets but also between BA’s fleet and those of the Spanish operations. The airlines will also be able to carry out maintenance at multiple locations.

Source: Cirium Dashboard