Spanish carrier Air Europa will deploy the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on two of its routes from Madrid Barajas Airport in summer 2015, one year ahead of the arrival of its own equipment on order, after signing a one-year contract to lease an aircraft from LOT Polish Airlines.
The SkyTeam alliance member will debut the aircraft on a weekly service to New York from April 12, 2015 and will also deploy the aircraft on a three times weekly route to Montevideo from April 13, 2015. The arrangement will enable the carrier to offer an enhanced service on both routes, while it will support the Polish carrier’s over capacity as it continues its business restructuring.
Air Europa placed a firm order for eight 787-8s in March 2007, but revealed in October last year that its parent, Spanish tourism conglomerate Globalia, had firmed up options for eight Boeing 787-8s switching these to the larger 787-9 in the process. The original 787-8 order remains current in the Boeing orderbook and it is believed the additional aircraft will be sourced via lessors rather than directly from the manufacturer.
Following a major restructuring to cut losses and counter falling demand in Spain following its economic downturn, Air Europa has repositioned itself as a network carrier from its hub at Madrid Barajas Airport. Its first 787-8 is due in 2016 and it expects to operate all eight aircraft by the end of 2017, with the 787-9s following between 2018 and 2020.
The lease deal with LOT will enable Air Europa to hit the ground running when its own 787s arrive. “The 787 will give us the edge to launch the newly-acquired B787 as soon as they arrive," confirmed José Hidalgo, chairman, Globalia, with the airline’s own crews working alongside LOT’s staff over this one-year contract.
The deal is also favourable to LOT Polish Airlines which is currently restricted from growing its business under the terms of a far-reaching restructuring plan to return sustainable profitability. Its future was effectively safeguarded this year when the European Commission formally approved its restructuring plan and ruled the PLN 804 million (around €200 million) of state aid granted to the carrier lawful in terms of the provisions of EU legislation.
LOT was actually the first European customer for the 787 but its recent restructuring means it has on overcapacity as it has been unable to introduce additional routes for the aircraft. Alongside using the 787 on its long-haul routes to Beijing, Chicago, New York and Toronto, and shorter-sector services to the likes of Tel Aviv, Tbilisi and even European capitals such as London, LOT Polish Airlines already has experience flying the type for other operators.
Aircraft have also been flown on transatlantic routes for Finnair and Norwegian, while ad hoc charter flights have operated to Brazil during this summer’s FIFA World Cup and to Chile for KGHM. For a second winter season, the type is also operating charters for some of the largest Polish tour operators.
The airline’s chief executive officer, Sebastian Mikosz, confirmed to Routesonline during this year’s World Routes forum in Chicago, USA, that the carrier was seeking opportunities for its Dreamliner fleet ahead of its expected return to growth in 2016.
“Until the end of 2015, LOT cannot launch any new connections in its network due to the public aid received in 2012. However, despite the limitations, we are working hard to boost effective use of our long-haul fleet and thus improve financial results of our company,” said Mikosz.
You can watch our full interview with Sebastian Mikosz, where he highlights the carrier’s development strategy and possible additional 787 orders, below:
Routesonline speaks to Sebastian Mikosz, chief executive officer, LOT Polish Airlines at World Routes in Chicago.
A key part of its development will be the increase in long-haul flying and according to Mikosz up to two additional long-haul routes will be added per year over the next five years. These will initially enhance utilisation of its existing Dreamliner fleet but could see further aircraft arriving in the future. LOT currently operates six 787s with two more on order but Mikosz revealed to Routesonline that between five and eight additional aircraft could join the fleet in the future as part of a major fleet renewal.