Monday, May 31, 2021

FLEET UPDATES: Flybondi - Fleet History - 2018 - 2021

Flybondi 737-800, LV-HKS (c/n 33821/1698), the carrier's first aircraft, at Buenos Aires El Palomar (EPA) on 17Dec19.  (Phil Perry Photo)    

Five 737-800's joined Flybondi as its core fleet

Flybondi received five 737-800's in its first six months of service in 2018. 

The first aircraft, LV-HKS (c/n 33821/1698), arrived in Cordoba (COR) on 02Dec17 as detailed in the following link to an earlier posting in this blog:

Flybondi's first 737-800 - LV-HKS is delivered

The carrier took delivery of its second 737-800, LV-HFR (c/n 28071/133) in  Cordoba (COR) on 14Feb18:

Flybondi's second 737-800 - LV-HFR is delivered

Flybondi's third 737-800, LV-HKR (c/n 32614/1201), arrived at Cordoba (COR) on 03Mar18:

Flybondi's third 737-800 - LV-HKR is delivered

The carrier's fourth 737-800, LV-HQY (c/n 34406/1852), like the previous three, was also delivered to Cordoba (COR), this time on 12May18:  

Flybondi's fourth 737-800 - LV-HQY is delivered

As the airline continued to grow with the addition of new routes in Argentina and eventually internationally to neighboring countries in South America, it needed more aircraft and took delivery of its fifth 737-800, LV-HFQ (c/n 33029/1945), which arrived in (Cordoba) COR on 16Jun18. 

The additional seats offered by LV-HFQ helped Flybondi to expand its network adding service from El Palomar (EPA) to Posadas (PSS), Bahia Blanca (BHI) and  Salta (SLA) plus planned flights to Puerto Iguazú (IGR) and Santiago del Estero (SDE).

Even though the aircraft was relatively young, having been delivered new to a leasing company in May 2006, it operated with eight carriers prior to joining Flybondi in June 2018:

Ajet - Cyprus 
XL Airways - UK
Nok Air - Thailand
Sunwing Airlines - Canada
Viking Airlines - Sweden
Thomson Airways - UJK
SmartWings - Czech Republic
TUI Airlines Netherlands 

Flybondi almost takes delivery of a Sixth 737-800

737-800, EI-FJG (msn 37818/ 3384) was in service with Norwegian Air International when its owner, CIT Aerospace, an aircraft leasing company,  tentatively reached an agreement to lease the aircraft to Flybondi in September 2018, apparently for delivery in November that same year. 

EI-FJG was painted in full Flybondi colors but it was never delivered to the Argentine carrier.  The Argentine registration LV-HXQ was even reserved for it (although this was never applied to the aircraft with the 737-800 retaining its Irish EI reg). 

EI-FJG left Budapest (BUD) destined for Lasham, England on 27Nov18 but bad weather saw it diverted to London-Gatwick (LGW) where it stayed before continuing on to Lasham on the 30th.  Many expected that would fly on to Argentina but it remained in England, eventually moving to English carrier Jet2 on 31May19 registered as G-DRTO.

One 737-800 replaced by another

LV-HKR (c/n 32614/1201), the fourth 737-800 that Flybondi received, was returned to lessor GECAS on 17Jun19 for onward conversion to a freighter in Shanghai Pudong (PDV) for Southern Air flying on behalf of Amazon Prime Air.

Replacing this aircraft was LV-HKN (c/n 30734/2477), a younger airframe at 11 years vs. LV-HKR's 16 years, which arrived at El Palomar (EPA) on 09Jul19 from Jakarta, Indonesia where it had apparently undergone maintenance.

LV-HKN was delivered factory-new to Air Vanuatu in 2008 with its last operator prior to joining Flybondi being Jet Airways of India.  Flybondi put it into service on 11Jul19 flying El Palomar (EPA) - Trelew (REL) - El Palomar (EPA).

All five 737-800's leave fleet one-by-one - COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting quarantine in Argentina led to no regularly-scheduled flights being operated to/from or within the country for seven months between 20Mar20 and 22Oct20. 

With Flybondi's 737-800's not generating any revenue, they eventually had to be returned to their lessors.

* LV-HFQ (c/n 33029/1945) was the first to leave, flying from El Palomar (EPA) on 09Jun20 to Tucson, Arizona via Ecuador for return to the leasing company, Wilmington Trust.
* LV-HQY (c/n 34406/1852) left EPA on 08Jul20, also to Tucson, Arizona via Ecuador for return to the leasing company, MC Aviation Partners.
* LV-HKN (c/n 30734/2477) left EPA on 17Aug20 to San Antonio, Texas for storage.  The aircraft was still under lease but not being in operation, the lessor requested that it be stored outside of Argentina in reaction to LATAM Argentina A320's being held in the country as leverage for the Argentine government in negotiation with the carrier for employee compensation in the wake of LATAM Argentina's shutdown.
* LV-HKS (c/n 33821/1698) left EPA on 20Aug20 to Tucson, AZ via Ecuador.

* LV-HFR (c/n 28071/133), Flybondi's last 737-800, left EPA on 14Nov20 to Mexico City, reportedly for maintenance.

Although LV-HKN had not technically left the fleet, Flybondi having no aircraft in Argentina raised questions if the airline was permanently shut down.  

Two 737-800's returned - regularly-scheduled service resumed on 12Dec20

Only a month after having left for Mexico, LV-HFR returned back to Argentina, flying from Mexico City to Buenos Aires via Guayaquil, Ecuador on 11Dec20, in time to enter service the next day from Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) to Bariloche (BRC), Puerto Iguazu (IGR) and Tucuman (TUC).

Flying with only one aircraft presented operational problems.  Indeed, LV-HFR suffered a maintenance issue that had it out of service between 27Jan21 and 30Jan21 with all of its flights being cancelled for three days with no alternative to offer passengers.  Many ended up taking long-distance buses to their destinations. 

Fortunately, LV-HKN, which had gone to Texas at the request of the lessor as a precaution, returned to Argentina on 11Feb21, giving the airline a two-aircraft fleet and a much more viable operation.   


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