Wednesday, July 28, 2021

FLEET UPDATE: Flybondi added a third 737-800, LV-KAH, to its fleet on 21Jul21

Flybondi 737-800, LV-KAH (c/n 30703/1964), apparently at Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) upon delivery to the carrier on 21Jul21. ( photo)

Flybondi, one of two Low-Cost Carriers (LCC) in Argentina (the other is Jetsmart Argentina), received its third 737-800, LV-KAH (c/n 30703/1964), when it departed the United States on 20Jul21, flying a Marana (MZJ) - Tucson (TUS) - Guayaquil (GYE) - Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) routing, arriving at the Argentine airport on 21Jul21.  

LV-KAH had been in storage at Marana (MZJ), Arizona since March 2020 after numerous stints with Sunwing Airlines of Canada.  The aircraft was handed over to Flybondi in a hybrid scheme with Flybondi "billboard" titles on a solid white fuselage but retaining Sunwing's orange colors on its tail, engines and winglets. 

LV-KAH was originally delivered to Excel Airways of the UK in June 2006, also seeing service with XTRA Airways, XL Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Firefly (also of Malaysia), Thomson Airways, Smartwings, TUI Fly Netherlands and finally with Sunwing.   

Flybondi had a fleet of five 737-800's prior to the COVID-19 pandemic but had to cut back its fleet when all regularly-scheduled flights to/from and within Argentina were suspended on 20Mar20 for seven months. 

The aircraft is expected to reinforce Flybondi's other two 737-800's on existing routes and possibly help introduce new ones.  


Sunday, July 25, 2021

FLEET UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas placed second 737 MAX 8, LV-GVD, back into service on 20Jul21

Aerolineas Argentinas 737 MAX 8, LV-GVD (c/n 64207/6661), lands on Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) runway 31 on 21Jul18.  (Phil Perry Photo)

Aerolineas Argentinas placed a second 737 MAX 8 (of five in its fleet) back into service on 20Jul21.  The aircraft had been out of service since the Argentinean national airline removed its 737 MAX fleet from service when all MAX's worldwide were grounded in March 2019 in the wake of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines' MAX accidents in October 2018 and March 2019, respectively.    
The airline restarted regularly-scheduled domestic flights on 22Oct20, putting its E190, 737-700 and 737-800 fleets back into service on these routes but the 737 MAX 8 was still suffering from the worldwide grounding at that point, delaying its return to service with Aerolineas until 23Mar21, some three months after the aircraft type was recertified for commercial flying once again.  

Aerolineas has opted to put its MAX 8 fleet back into service slowly, partly because frequencies across its route network have not reached pre-COVID levels and also presumably to slowly train its crews on the various modifications to the MAX, especially the MCAS software, which was the culprit in the crashes leading to the grounding of the aircraft in early 2019.  

LV-GVD and LV-HKU (the first MAX to be reactivated, back in March) are only flying Argentine domestic routes for now, expecting to be eventually redeployed on some of the regional routes the type operated on prior to the grounding, such as to Punta Cana (PUJ), Bogota (BOG), Rio de Janeiro Galeao (GIG) and Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU).      

The disposition of the three other 737 MAX 8's in Aerolineas fleet (with six more scheduled for future delivery) is as follows:   

* LV-GVE (c/n 64208/6717) - Parked at Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE)
* LV-HKV (c/n 44294/6807) - Parked at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP)
* LV-HKW (c/n 44296/6926) - Parked at Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE)


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

FLEET UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas replacement for E190 fleet still on hold after 737 MAX 8 and then E195-E2 were favored

Austral E190, LV-GIQ (c/n 716), taxis on a beautiful sunny day at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 29Mar18.  (Phil Perry Photo)

Aerolineas Argentinas started considering a replacement for the-then Austral and current Aerolineas E190 fleet back in 2017.  Although its oldest E190's were a relatively young seven years old having been delivered in 2010, there were several reasons why replacing the 26-strong E190 fleet appeared attractive:

Arguments in Favor of Replacing E190 

Economies of Scale Advantage of Larger and/or more Modern Aircraft over the E190

The next generation of the Embraer E190 series, the E190-E2has a similar seating capacity to the E190 but its geared turbofan engines and many other improvements give it a 12.9% lower operating cost per seat mile than the E190.  

The 162-seat 737-800's economies of scale advantage over the E190 give it a 27.3% lower seat-mile cost over the Brazilian-made aircraft.

Similarly, the 166-seat 737 MAX 8 has both economies of scale and the latest technology advantages over the E190 yielding seat-mile costs that are a whopping 40.2% less than the smaller and older plane. 

E190 Limited Cargo Capacity

The E190's cargo hold capacity is reportedly relatively small, so much so that there have reportedly been times when it has not been able to accommodate passenger luggage, with many pieces being forwarded to their destination on later flights. 

Fleet Commonality - Cost Savings

The Aerolineas Argentinas short-to-medium range fleet consists of the 96-seat E190 and 162-seat 737-800.  

Replacing the E190 with more 737-800's or 737 MAX 8's would save Aerolineas on training, crew type rating, spares, and maintenance costs.   
New Argentine Low-Cost Carriers operating 170+ seat Aircraft

New LCC's Flybondi and Jetsmart Argentina operate larger 737-800's and A320's respectively, with lower seat-mile costs than the E190, helping them to offer lower airfares than Aerolineas can using the smaller plane.  Switching to 737-800's or 737 MAX 8's would allow Aerolineas to compete with lower airfares, at least on routes with enough traffic to support larger aircraft. 

Twenty Proposals for E190 Replacement

In mid-2018, Aerolineas Argentinas requested proposals for the replacement of the E190 fleet from aircraft manufacturers, leasing companies and financial entities specializing in capital equipment financing.  

Twenty parties presented proposals in October of that year, including Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, AerCap, Aircastle, Air Lease Corporation, Aviation Capital Group, Avolon, Azorra, Boc Aviation, CFM, Falko, GE Capital Aviation Services, Jet Trading & Leasing, Macquarie, Nordic Aviation Capital, Pratt & Whitney, Regional One, SMBC Aviation Capital and Willis Lease.

Criteria for Lease / Purchase Decision 

The proposals were to be analyzed applying the following criteria:

* Cost of Lease or Purchase

* Valuation of Aerolineas E190 Fleet

One of the conditions of the Request for Proposals was that the winning bidder would purchase Aerolineas' used E190 fleet so the valuation placed on these aircraft by the bidder would be an important factor.    

* Leaseback Costs of E190's

The 26 E190's of Aerolineas would not be replaced all at once overnight but would likely be leased back from the winning bidder and retired gradually during the transition process to the new fleet.  The cost of the leaseback would be a factor for consideration of the various bids.

* Cost of Transition from E190's to Replacement Fleet

Costs of training flight crews and maintenance staff, spares supply, possible hangar modifications, etc. would be considered.  

* Negotiations with Aerolineas' Labor Unions   

Also to be taken into account in the bid / aircraft type selection process would be the proposed labor agreements requested by Aerolineas' unions for each  candidate replacement type.    

Replacement Aircraft - Most Important Characteristics

* Factory-new 
* State-of-the Art Technology
* Lower Fuel Consumption than E190
* Lower Environmental Impact than E190 
* Competitive Operating Costs   

737 MAX 8 Favored but MAX Grounding Put Plans on Hold 
Aerolineas aimed to analyze the different proposals and negotiate an agreement with one of the suppliers within 90 days.  Preliminary reports had the carrier favoring the 737 MAX 8 for its versatility and economies of scale on both short and long-range routes plus the favorable economics of having one family of aircraft, 737-800 / 737 MAX, for all of its short to medium range needs.  A tentative decision was apparently made at the end of 2018 to acquire the aircraft with Aerolineas' board set to meet in May 2019 to approve the acquisition.  

However, the grounding of the 737 MAX series in March 2019 after two deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia put Aerolineas' plans to acquire the aircraft on hold.  Although the first planes would not be delivered for a couple of years, ordering a type that was grounded for an undetermined amount of time seemed imprudent so the decision was made to ask the contract bidders to update their proposals once the MAX's grounding was lifted.     

Also, the devaluation of the Argentine peso from approx. 20 pesos to 40 pesos per USD between April 2018 and August 2018 effectively made any purchase or leasing arrangement in hard currency much more expensive plus the devaluation  hurt the Argentine economy.  Both of these factors could not have helped Aerolineas to move forward with any plans to replace the E190 fleet. 

E195-E2 Favored by New Presidential Administration 

Argentina had presidential elections in late 2019 with Alberto Fernandez defeating incumbent Mauricio Macri.  The continued weakness of the Argentine economy and the COVID-19 pandemic have led to the selection of an E190 replacement remaining on hold, even beyond the recertification of the 737 MAX series.

However, Aerolineas' new management under the new presidential administration expressed a preference in early 2020 for the Embraer E195-E2, typically with 138 seats compared to the 106 seats of the E190-E2, the successor aircraft to the E190.  The E195-E2 offers greater efficiency, enabling it to offer higher seating capacity without much higher operating costs.  The E195-E2 is better-suited than the 737 MAX 8 to Aerolineas' domestic route network, which includes many smaller cities that are loss-makers with larger aircraft. 

As of this writing in July 2021, there has been no further dialogue regarding replacement of Aerolineas Argentinas' Embraer E190 fleet.             

Aviacion News - 16Jan20 

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

ROUTE UPDATES: June 2021 - American Airlines

Route Updates - June 2021

The following airlines / flights are confirmed to have started or re-started on the indicated dates.  Most, maybe all, of the services are the resumption of flights that existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Increases / decreases in flight frequency are not always verified.

Airline                      Origin                             Destination                      Eff Date     Type           Frequency   

American                 Buenos Aires                  New York                          16Jun21     777-200      4x/weekly    Airlines                    Ezeiza (EZE)                  Kennedy (JFK)
* Remarks:  First regularly-scheduled service to JFK since March 2020