Italian scheduled and charter carrier Volare Airlines has drafted ambitious expansion plans as it discusses a strategic link or merger with fellow SAirGroup airline Air Europe.

Volare has eight Airbus A320s in service and this fleet will be expanded to 11. Of these, six will be employed on scheduled services, with the others used on charters. The current fleet has been assembled from mixed sources, with the majority leased from GATX/CL Air, GE Capital Aviation Services and International Lease Finance.

The fleet acquisitions will permit route expansion, with plans for daily flights to link Verona and Rome, along with more flights to Sardinia. Extra international flights from Venice are planned and services from Milan Linate may be added.

Volare, 34% owned by Swissair parent SAir, is discussing a link with Milan Malpensa-based Air Europe, in which SAir holds a 45% stake. Swissair chief executive Jeffrey Katz has hinted at a merger (Flight International, 14-20 March).

Air Europe chief executive Lupo Rattazzi confirms talks are taking place. SAir does not hold a majority stake in either carrier, so there is a stumbling block over who would lead the combined airline. Volare's boss, Gino Zoccai, has suggested a straight purchase, with Volare buying the larger Air Europe.

Source: Flight International