Volotea will phase out all its Boeing 717s in favour of a fleet of 30-40 used Airbus A319s over the next two to three years.
Chief executive Carlos Munoz says the Spanish-headquartered low-cost carrier will replace its 19 717s with "mid-age" A319 narrowbodies of 10-12 years' vintage and "typically second-lease" from "large lessors like GECAS or AerCap".
Munoz was speaking to Flightglobal in Toulouse as Volotea took delivery of its first A319, leased from AerCap.
"We describe ourselves as a low-cost airline, and therefore simplicity and commonality in fleet is a big thing, so we will definitely migrate entirely out of the 717 and entirely into the A319 in the next two or three years," says Munoz.
The 717s will be gradually transferred to other operators of the type; Munoz cites Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines and Qantas as examples of these. He adds that the transition will mean that Volotea moves away from its existing relationships with lessors Falko Regional Aircraft and Boeing Capital.
Having taken delivery of its first A319 on 9 March, Volotea is to receive a further three before the end of May.
Munoz says the carrier has secured six in total and will source more from AerCap and GECAS over the coming years. These will typically be leased for a duration of six to 10 years, he says.
The first four A319s will all be stationed at Volotea's base at Nantes, where it will operate a "dual fleet" until May, after which all of the airline's 25 routes from the French city will be operated with Airbus aircraft. The four A319s will be in 150-seats configuration, whereas the 717s are 125-seaters.
"In our criteria of how to change [our] fleet, we have privileged much more the operational simplicity over any other consideration," says Munoz. "We did value commercial [considerations]; we gave priority to operational simplicity."
Volotea is looking at placing incoming A319s at its larger bases such as Bordeaux, Palermo, Toulouse and Venice. From smaller bases such as Asturias and Strasbourg, the airline will continue to deploy 717s where there is "commercial merit" for them, Munoz says.
Flightglobal's Fleets Analyzer database shows that Volotea's 717s, variously leased from Falko and Boeing Capital, are between 10 and 15 years old.
An earlier version misidentified the company from which the first A319 is leased
Source: Cirium Dashboard