Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris Airlines has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for 44 Airbus A320family jets, among them 30 A320neos and 14 A320-family aircraft.
When firmed, the order will make Volaris Airlines the first customer for the A320neo in Mexico, according to Airbus, which announced the Volaris MOU just after the close of the Dubai Airshow 2011.
Airbus says Volaris will make its engine selection for its 14 additional A320-family aircraft and its 30 A320neos at a later date. Volaris currently operates an all-A320-family fleet of 33 aircraft and has a backlog of 15 more, not including the aircraft covered by the latest MOU.
The carrier’s existing fleet is powered by IAE V2500 engines so it appears likely Volaris Airlines may choose V2500s to power its 14 new A320-family jets and the Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1100G geared turbofan to power its A320neos, since Pratt & Whitney is the largest shareholder in the IAE consortium.
To date Volaris has taken many of its aircraft on operating leases from major lessors. The Airbus A319 is the dominant model in the Volaris fleet so far, because Volaris is based at the high-altitude airport of Toluca near Mexico City and the A319’s excellent performance from hot-and-high runways comes in particularly useful for the carrier.
Since starting operations in 2006, Volaris has become one of the top three airlines in Mexico in terms of capacity and passengers carried, having quickly expanded its network throughout Mexico and into the United States.
Volaris also has an interlining and joint-sales agreement in place with Southwest Airlines, allowing the U.S. carrier to offer its customers one-ticket itineraries between many destinations in the United States and the Mexican destinations Volaris serves from the U.S.
The 44 new A320-family aircraft are expected to help Volaris continue its expansion and renew its fleet, according to Airbus.
“Fuel efficiency and reliability are critical to keeping Volaris among the top low-cost carriers in Mexico,” says Enrique Beltranena, CEO of Volaris. “These new A320s will allow us to maintain the youngest fleet in the country, while further improving our environmental performance.”
“We are very proud to see Volaris, an all Airbus operator, grow into one of the leading airlines of Mexico,” says John Leahy, Airbus’ Chief Operating Officer, Customers. “Volaris will now be among the first customers in Latin America to benefit from the A320neo’s increased capabilities, including a 15 per cent reduction in fuel burn and emissions.”
More than 8,100 Airbus A320-family aircraft have been ordered and nearly 5,000 delivered to some 340 customers and operators worldwide.
According to Airbus, the A320neo family has over 95-per-cent airframe commonality with existing A320-family jets, making it an easy fit into existing fleets while offering up to 500 nautical miles (950 kilometers) more range or two tonnes more payload at a given range.