In one of the largest investments by a private Greek company since the financial crisis in 2010, the Greek national flag carrier – Aegean Air – has selected its long-term fleet replacement. Valued at $5bn, the airline will proceed with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus, for up to 42 aircraft within the A320neo family.
Aegean Air currently operates an all-Airbus fleet, so it should come as no surprise that the Greek carrier has opted to continue, in the interests of commonality. Specifically, the airline will order 30 members of the A320neo family (with at least 10 of these being placed for the larger A321neo, with options for further conversions). Of course, the MoU suggests the airline will eventually order 42 aircraft, so Aegean Air has options for twelve more planes.
The final agreement with Airbus is estimated to be reached in June 2018 and will, of course, allow Aegean to increase capacity with new routes and more frequencies but also (in the longer term), replace their current fleet. In 2017, Aegean’s fleet consisted of 46 Airbus A320 family aircraft, along with 12 turboprops operating under the name of their subsidiary – Olympic Air, so this order could theoretically replace most of Aegean’s fleet in one swoop. Interestingly, however, Aegean has not named an engine supplier and has initiated negotiations with both engine manufacturers (CFM International or Pratt & Whitney).
“Today marks the beginning of new period of growth and development for AEGEAN. With the investment in new generation Airbus A320neo aircraft, we strengthen our competitiveness and provide a platform that empowers our people to further improve service to our passengers as well the, important, first impression we provide to visitors of our country.”
-mr eftichios vassilakis, vice chairman of Aegean air
Aegean currently only operates flights within Europe and the Middle East, but clearly, the new aircraft, with increased range capabilities of additional 600 to 1,500 km (equivalent to 1 to 2 hours of extra flight hours), will enable the airline to expand further. Perhaps Aegean will be looking to emulate it’s neighbouring airlines such as Turkish, to create a hub in its Athens base. Traces of this approach can already be seen, as Athens acts as a connecting point for the Greek islands and Aegean now fly to destinations in the middle East such as Kuwait and Tehran. With aircraft such as the A321neo, the airline may be looking to launch flights to destinations such as Dubai, India and deeper Africa from it’s Athenian hub.
Ultimately, the order is important news for Aegean and Greece on the whole. The largest private investment in Greece will no doubt also bring benefit to the Greek population – with increased connectivity, comfort and tourism from their national carrier.