IAG has approved a further expansion of Spanish budget carrier Vueling's fleet, as its half-year performance shows evidence that it is overcoming the operational issues which severely affected the airline last year.
Vueling's recovery has been faster than expected, said IAG chief Willie Walsh during a half-year briefing on 28 July, when the carrier disclosed a much-reduced interim operating loss.
Walsh added that the IAG board, the day before, had approved five more aircraft for Vueling "on top of additional aircraft we'd already approved".
Vueling had 47 Airbus A320neo jets on order at the end of June this year, plus three outstanding A320s which had been ordered during the month.
Walsh says the new management team at Vueling has turned in a "fantastic performance", creating a "much stronger" and "better quality" network following a review of the carrier's operations.
He adds that the airline has achieved this performance despite encountering "just as many" air traffic control restrictions as it had faced last year.
Walsh says the carrier also faces particular difficulties at Barcelona, particularly with security and immigration controls. "[They're] fighting against the external factors challenging them," he says.
He believes that Vueling was left vulnerable last year by an expansion into thinner routes where the carrier did not have sufficient frequency, adding: "The quality of expansion was not good."
Vueling has limited its expansion ambitions this year, with route cuts contributing substantially to a 6.2% reduction in capacity for the third quarter.
IAG's latest outlook puts Vueling's full-year capacity increase at just 1.6%, as it aims to improve "operational resilience" and reduce seasonal effects. Walsh says he is "very confident" in Vueling's progress.
Source: Cirium Dashboard