Vueling to make USD4bn aircraft order; concerned about political pressure favouring Airbus
Vueling CEO Alex Cruz stated a decision on a USD4 billion aircraft order may be complicated by French political pressure favouring Airbus (Bloomberg, 17-Jun-2011). Mr Cruz stated placing a contract for B737 equipment rather than A320 equipment could make it harder for Vueling to receive permission for night services at Paris Orly Airport as it seeks to build a base there, Mr Cruz said. “It would be crazy to decide on a manufacturer without taking into account the effects it may have on our network development,” he said. Vueling aims to order a “brand-new fleet” from Airbus, Boeing or Bombardier to replace 47 Airbus aircraft on leases that expire within six years, Mr Cruz said. While changing manufacturer would impose significant training and maintenance costs, it could make sense if price concessions offset the increased costs, he said. “We’re very happy with Airbus, but I think if we’re placing a very large order we need to have a good fair look at what’s available,” Mr Cruz said. Vueling is planning to double its takeoff and landing slots at Paris Orly and needs noise regulations relaxed to allow earlier services before it bases aircraft there. Discussions are in progress to amend the rules to reflect reductions in engine noise achieved in the last decade.