LONDON – Aer Lingus (EI) is set to place its Airbus A330 aircraft only delivered last week in a storage program in Spain due to the downturn in business triggered by the COVIF-19 pandemic.
This is, as Chief Technical Officer Fergus Wilson said, due to the 14-day quarantine still in effect, so passenger demand remains extremely low.
Aer Lingus plans for new aicraft
EI CTO confirmed that the number of inbound passengers on its three daily transatlantic services has fallen from 4,200 per day this time last year to just 150.
The CTO also said the airline had planned for the newly-delivered aircraft to enter service immediately as the airline reached the peak of the summer 2020 season.
However, as a result of the continuing uncertainty surrounding international travel, the airline has made the decision not to enter the type into commercial service, according to Mr. Wilson.
Instead, it will join two other Aer Lingus A330 in a long-term storage program at Ciudad Real airport in Spain.
High Maintenance Costs
The CTO said that parking the aircraft in a warm semi-arid climate like Spain would help to reduce the risk of corrosion and protect it from deteriorating due to lack of operation and environmental factors.
He noted that placing an airplane in long-term storage requires strict and costly maintenance prescribed by manufacturer Airbus.
Such maintenance involves the completion of several checks and procedures both before and during the storage period – with further checks required ahead of any eventual return to operation.
Aer Lingus Strategy to Avoid Cash Burn
Mr. Wilson confirmed that the airline is currently examining every opportunity across the business to reduce its “cash burn.”
Placing the new aircraft in storage will reduce the cost of the ongoing maintenance bill, protect the asset value of the aircraft, and allow the company to avail cheaper parking fees.
With this new airplane entering long-term storage, EI will have reduced its wide-bodied fleet from 15 aircraft to just 5 operational servicing just two routes: – Dublin-JFK and Dublin-Chicago.
The Rest of The Fleet
Mr. Wilson added that EI could cover these two routes with as little as two aircraft but is trying to maximize the number of operational equipment to avoid “the complexities and cost of putting them into parking or storage programs.”
For the rest of the EI fleet, Wilson indicated that only three of its four A321LR are in service, operating Dublin-Boston and Dublin-Heathrow routes. As such, only 17 of the airline’s 30-strong A320 fleet are operational.
The non-operational aircraft are mostly stored in Dublin, Shannon, and Cork.