Vueling strategy chief Fernando Estrada has disclosed that the carrier looked into potential long-haul, low-cost flights.

During the strategy summit at Routes Europe in Aberdeen today, Estrada said the Barcelona-based carrier had analysed "some numbers" relating to the practicalities of starting such operations but did not reach any definite conclusions.

While he notes evidence of long-haul, low-cost flights "not working", Estrada adds that falling oil prices mean that "maybe now it's working". Still, he warns, "it would be a very expensive test to do".

For Vueling, sticking to short-haul flights offers "clear advantages": high aircraft utilisation, and a single-type fleet. With long-haul operations, by contrast, "you need overnight, you need the business passenger, you need cargo". He adds that it was not clear what Vueling, EasyJet or Ryanair could bring that was "different" to services offered by incumbent long-haul operators.

But while Estrada sees low-cost as the "best model" in the short-haul market, he concedes that it would be "very difficult" for Vueling to achieve the same cost base as rival Ryanair.

"Although it [Ryanair] is now trying to make us think they are changing, that they are friendly, that they are going to primary airports... they are operating to secondary airports where it is incomparable, still flying to places that you can not pronounce, or you don't know where they are," Estrada says.

This and the Irish airline's radical employment model for pilots mean there is "still a big difference" between the two carriers' business models, he argues.

Source: Cirium Dashboard