Chile's Sky Airline is on the lookout to lease more Airbus A320neos, as it embarks upon a fleet renewal and expansion.
The Santiago-based carrier has already committed to six A320neos, for delivery in the second half of 2018. Three of the aircraft are being leased from SMBC Aviation Capital, and the remaining three will come from Air Lease Corporation.
Sky is looking to lease at least 15 more A320neos, for delivery in 2019 and 2020, chief executive Holger Paulmann tells FlightGlobal.
The airline is already an all-A320 family operator, with a fleet of 13 A319s and two A320s. The aircraft have an average age of 12.9 years, according to Flight Fleets Analyzer.
"We are at a time when we need to replace the current fleet," says Paulmann, explaining the airline's plan to keep leasing new A320neos. "If we place an order now, deliveries will probably start in 2021. We need those aircraft sooner than that."
Having newer aircraft will allow the airline to increase its utilisation to above 12h, up from 11h expected this year.
Sky also plans to pack more seats on its A320neos, with seat count going up to 186 from an average of 154 on its current generation A320s.
Paulmann says the additional seats are possible through new ultra slimline seats on the A320neos, although seat pitch is expected to shrink on half of the seats on board. Sky has an average seat pitch of about 29in currently.
The airline, which is Chile's second biggest domestic carrier after LATAM, plans to operate an all-A320neo fleet by 2020. "We should have at least 19 A320neos by then," says Paulmann.
Sky has not a made a decision on its choice of powerplant for the A320neo. Several carriers operating the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines have reported issues.
"We are fully aware of the situation with the Pratt engines," says Paulmann.