Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris plans to take delivery of its first Airbus A320 in November and has significantly accelerated deliveries for A319s.

Volaris now operates a fleet of 18 144-seat A319s but chief executive Enrique Beltranena says the carrier's next aircraft will be a 172-seat A320, which will be delivered in October. Volaris also will take a second A320 and a 19th A319 in November, giving it a fleet of 21 aircraft by year-end.

 © Volaris
See more images of Volaris' A319/A320 on AirSpace


In an interview with Flightglobal premium affiliate ATI today, Beltranena also reveals Volaris has accelerated its 2009 fleet plan and is now planning to take seven aircraft next year, all of which will be new A319s.

Volaris originally was only slated to receive one additional A319 in 2009 from its outstanding order with Airbus but Beltranena says Airbus has been able to accelerate two deliveries that were previously scheduled for 2010 and beyond. He adds the carrier also has secured commitments from leasing companies for an additional four aircraft in 2009.

Beltranena says a lack of available delivery slots at Airbus originally prevented Volaris from adding more than one aircraft in 2009. But he adds that over the last few months slots have become available as other carriers have deferred their A320 orders.

"We like to add at least seven aircraft each year," Beltranena says.

He adds Volaris so far has added seven aircraft per year and is on track to meet its original business plan of operating 22 aircraft by its third anniversary in March 2009.

Volaris ordered 16 A319s before launching in March 2006 and ordered another 14 A319s in early 2007. Beltranena says of the 18 A319s Volaris currently operates, 14 came from its original order and have been sold and leased back while the other four came directly from lessors.

The three aircraft scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter also come directly from Airbus and will be sold and leased back. Beltranena says Volaris is now working on sale and leaseback deals for the three A319s that will come next year from its order.

Beltranena is confident Volaris can secure financing for these aircraft despite the recent tightening of the credit markets. "It's still not that bad," Beltranena says of the sale and leaseback market. "We're still getting the right deals."

Volaris now is slated to end 2009 with a fleet of 28 aircraft and another 10 on outstanding order. Beltranena says these 10 aircraft are now slated for delivery in 2010, 2011 and 2012 but Volaris is interested in accelerating some of these if delivery slots become available. He says the carrier is also considering ordering additional aircraft and taking additional aircraft directly from lessors.

"It depends on what Airbus offers us," Beltranena says when asked how he will make sure Volaris continues to add at least seven aircraft per year. "I have to play the game."

He adds Volaris' four owners injected a total of $48 million into Volaris earlier this year to help fund the fleet expansion. Beltranena says the capital injection was not needed to fund ongoing operations because the carrier continues to be profitable despite the recent increase in fuel prices.

Volaris was profitable in its first year of operations and Beltranena expects another profit for 2008. "I don't think it will be a big profit but it will be at least break even," he says. "We'll be much better than our competitors."

Volaris, which is based in Toluca outside Mexico City, now operates 121 flights per day connecting 21 cities within Mexico. It is planning more rapid domestic expansion for late this year and next year followed by the launch of international operations in 2010.

It now claims to be the largest low-cost carrier in Mexico and expects by the end of this year it will become the largest carrier overall in the domestic market, surpassing Mexicana.

Beltranena says so far Volaris has only switched two of its A319 orders to the larger A320. He says this decision was made late last year because Volaris required larger aircraft to serve the Cancun and Tijuana markets.

"We're confronting gauge problems in the Tijuana and Cancun markets," he says.

  • PICTURES of Volaris in a gallery on AirSpace

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news