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ALTA: Airbus fleet roll-over options under review at TAME

Ecuador’s TAME will add to its Embraer and Airbus fleet over the coming year, and is updating its longer-term narrowbody fleet plan, says Rafael Farias Ponton, chief executive of the state-owned carrier.

"We are beginning to explore other options with Airbus for our whole fleet," says Farias. Flightglobal's Ascend Online database shows that the airline currently operates five A320s and four A319s.

TAME has an exclusively leased fleet of A320s but would like to move to a mixed owned and leased fleet, says Farias. It is interested in the A320neo and the A321 equipped with sharklets. The latter type is particularly appealing because of the increased performance it delivers, which is important at the hot-and-high conditions imposed by TAME's high-altitude main base at Quito’s international airport.

TAME will return one leased A320 in 2014 and lease another two of the type to further grow its A320 fleet.

In late November, it will add another Embraer 170, taking its fleet of the type to three in total. It also operates two 190s, says Farias. The third Embraer 170 is a 2010 example formerly operated by Gulf Air and being leased from Jetscape for a term of six years.

TAME’s current fleet is completed by three ATR 42s.

The carrier made revenue of $130 million last year. Strong traffic growth and route launches will boost this to $160 million this year and beyond $200 million in 2014, says Farias.

"We are expecting a small loss [this year] as we are investing in a lot of new long-haul routes," he says, but the airline hopes to return to break-even and profitability in 2014. This follows a small net profit of $1.2 million in 2012.

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