British Airways to wet lease aircraft to Titan Airways and Finnair
Finnair’s recent attempt to rebalance its fleet following a drop in traffic to Asia has found a new customer: British Airways. Seeking to boost its operations, the British airline has decided to wet lease four Airbus A321s from Finnair and two Boeing 757s from Titan Airways.
The decision is not unprecedented; Titan Airways is a regular choice for BA to alleviate capacity on its services, with the charter carrier operating several medium-haul routes during BA’s grounding of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet.
In particular, BA has experienced severe capacity issues over the past month, which are expected to continue through the summer period. The airline has cut more than 1,400 flights through April, resorting to cutting several services over the summer and opening a new short-haul crew hub in Madrid.
Finnair and Titan Airways planes will be deployed on BA’s short-haul routes, providing much-needed relief to its overstretched operations.
Titan Airways is a backer of British Airways, having supported the operations of flag carriers on several occasions. Photo: Titan Airways
Passengers traveling on select BA services will find themselves in one of Titan Airways’ 757s, which average around 22 years old. According to travel information site Head for Points, BA’s Club Europe business class offers will still be available.
This is good news for fans of the “flying pencil”, which British Airways retired from its fleet in 2010.
BA’s arrangement with Finnair will see four A321 jets and their crews join the carrier from May through summer.
It follows another recent wet lease agreement between Finnair and Eurowings Discover, whose Lufthansa subsidiary will receive two Airbus A350s to boost its summer capacity.
In a statement posted on Finnair’s LinkedIn, Senior Vice President Operations Jaakko Schildt noted:
“With the agreement with British Airways, these wet lease agreements bring revenue to Finnair and provide work for our employees in a situation where, due to the Russian situation, we are not able to use the our entire aircraft capacity in a cost-effective manner.”
Finnair’s agreements with Eurowings Discover and British Airways will save hundreds of staff from possible layoffs over the summer. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | single flight
The two agreements plan to fly 600 Finnair crew members out of Furlough, including 400 alone to Eurowings,
The Helsinki-based carrier is battling increasing operational challenges due to the closure of Russian airspace and strict coronavirus restrictions in its northern Asian destinations.
The announcement coincides with the release of Finnair’s first quarter report. The carrier noted that it expected a comparable operating loss of 65 million euros in the second quarter, an improvement from the loss of 133 million euros in the first quarter.
Finnair plans to operate around 70% of its capacity in 2019, although around 80% will come from wet-leasing its aircraft to other airlines, including BA and Eurowings Discover. The decision is expected to save around €60 million through the arrangements and other operational improvements.
Additionally, the carrier sold its four oldest A321 aircraft earlier this year, with plans to convert the jets to freighters. Finnair also recorded an impairment of 33 million euros on four Airbus A330s.
As reported by FlightGlobal, chief executive Topi Manner added that the carrier is preparing its long-term response to the closure of Russian airspace and is considering “various solutions” to the problem. Manner noted that the airline’s cash position is “still strong” and will use its undrawn hybrid state loan of 400 million euros as capital.
Are you ready to fly on one of the wet charter flights this summer? Let us know in the comments.
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