ORLANDO — The low-cost carrier, Allegiant Air, unveiled the first brand new Airbus A320 aircraft (N246NV) in an event at Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB). N246NV is the first aircraft from Allegiant’s July 2016 order for 12 A320ceo aircraft.
“Today marks a key milestone in our transition to a single fleet type,” said Maurice J. Gallagher, Allegiant president, and CEO. “Moving to an all-Airbus fleet will not only create significant operating efficiencies across our entire operation but will also bring economic benefits such as fuel efficiency and additional seat capacity. This will allow Allegiant to continue offering leisure travelers the most affordable fares in the industry while increasing reliability.”
Allegiant currently operates a fleet of 88 aircraft to 150 destinations. Over half (46) of the Allegiant Air fleet consists of McDonnell Douglas MD-83s and MD-88s. The airline also operates 20 Airbus A319s, 20 Airbus A320s, and two Boeing 757-200s that will soon be retired.
Although Allegiant has been operating A320 family aircraft since 2012, N246NV is the first brand new aircraft delivered to Allegiant from Airbus. To celebrate this milestone, Allegiant held a video contest where employees explained why they liked working for Allegiant. Five winners were chosen and flown to Toulouse, France to take part in the aircraft delivery. While in Toulouse, the Allegiant team toured the Airbus A380 and A320 final assembly lines.
N246NV is also the first aircraft in the Allegiant Air fleet to sport the airline’s new modified livery. All new aircraft will receive the livery while older aircraft will either be repainted during C-checks or be retired in the old paint.
While Allegiant has taken the major step of purchasing its first brand new aircraft from Airbus, the carrier will continue to acquire used aircraft according to Vice-President of Fleet Planning B.J. Neal.
“New aircraft made sense for us at this point in time because the order was available to us on short notice. Ten aircraft will be delivered in 2017 and two in 2018,” said Neal. “We didn’t sign the deal until the very last day of July last year. That mitigates our risk on financing another economic risk. They were available at a point in time when we didn’t have a lot of used airplanes coming in. These planes allow us to accelerate the MD retirement schedule,” Neal conclude.
Allegiant plans to become an all-Airbus operator by the year 2019, much to the delight of Bob Lekites, executive vice president – customers, Airbus Americas.
“In 2013 Allegiant flew their first Airbus aircraft and today we celebrate their first purchase of a brand-new Airbus aircraft. It appears the four-year test-drive was rather convincing. We are honored that our customer is flying its way to an all Airbus fleet, but not surprised, as our A320 Family efficiencies and comfort have converted airlines around the world,” said Lekites.
Orlando Sanford Airport officials welcomed the new A320 and its quieter CFM56 engines compared to the MD-88.
“We are certainly happy to see the Airbus aircraft increasing here because they are quieter. When we have our regular noise meetings, we do talk about how Allegiant is changing out their fleet,” said an airport official.
Allegiant is still waiting to complete final introductory paperwork before N246NV enters service. Punta Gorda and Orlando Sanford will be the initial bases for the new A320s.
The aircraft seats 186 passengers, an increase of the 177 seats that are found in the rest of the Allegiant A320 fleet. To fit the additional nine seats, Allegiant opted for the Airbus Space-Flex V2 Lavatory.