Austrian Airlines says it will retire several short and long-haul aircraft, as part of a ‘Plan for a New Start’ following the coronavirus crisis.
Three of the carrier’s B767 aircraft will be retired by 2022, representing half of Austrian’s B767 fleet, and all of the airline’s A319s will also be retired by the same date.
This will add to the phasing out of Austrian’s 18 Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprop aircraft, which was already announced last year.
The three B767s being taken out of the service are among the oldest aircraft in the carrier’s fleet, with an average age of 28 years, and Austrian says that the planned phasing out of aircraft will decrease its average fleet age from 15.4 years to 14.6.
Austrian currently has around 80 aircraft in its fleet, and plans to reduce this to 60 by 2022, nine of which will be long-haul jets.
Last week the carrier extended the suspension of all scheduled flight operations until mid-May, with CCO Andreas Otto stating that “we continue to stand ready to initiate a slow restart”.
It now says that it expects a 25-50 per cent drop in demand in 2020, with “a maximum of 75 percent of the pre-coronavirus level” expected by the end of 2021.
“The entire airline industry is pessimistic,” said Otto. “We have to assume that we will reach the ‘pre-corona level’ again in 2023 at the earliest.”
The news follows last week’s announcement by sister carrier Lufthansa that it is to decommission its entire fleet of A340-600s, amounting to a total of 17 aircraft, alongside previously announced retirements of selected A380 and B747s.
“We got into this crisis through no fault of our own,” said Austrian Airlines CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech.
“Now it is our responsibility to make Austrian Airlines fit for the future after Corona. We want to retain our long-haul hub, even if we have no other choice for the time being but to adapt to the somewhat smaller market.
“Being fit for the future also means that we must be in a position to finance our aircraft, charges, wages and investments, and of course also to repay any charges and loans from Corona grounding.”