Allegiant Travel Company is on the hunt for a dozen used A320s to economically feed its transition to a single fleet type and jump-start capacity growth.
The ultra-low-cost carrier plans to end 2017 with 89 aircraft, including 37 McDonnell-Douglas MD-80s. It will retire the venerable twinjets in 2018 while adding 30 Airbus aircraft, leading to a net drop of seven aircraft in its fleet. By the of 2020, however, plans call for the airline to be operating 110 aircraft, including 37 A319s.
The airline has sourced 98 Airbus narrowbodies since 2013, including all of the aircraft it needs through 2018. Its current fleet plan factors in adding six A320s in 2019 and six more in 2020 to reach its 110-aircraft fleet target.
The growth will come via A320s that can be modified to 186 seats, which means targeting aircraft delivered in the last 17 years. Allegiant also wants CFM-powered aircraft, further narrowing its target. Ideally, it would acquire aircraft delivered during the early portion of its window, or roughly 11-17 years of age. Allegiant executives say that leaves a population of about 350 A320s that meet their criteria.
The transition to an all-Airbus narrowbody fleet will simplify the carrier's MRO efforts. It plans to consolidate its MD-80 operations to one base next year—Orlando Sanford International—and will have twinjets phased out by mid-year.
"Most important thing for 2018: we're going to be down a single mix fleet base for the summer of 2018," Allegiant CFO Scott Sheldon said at the company's recent investor day. "That is really important. We operated 2017 with up to six [mixed-fleet] bases. That's difficult when you have to have all your materials and tooling specific to that fleet on-site. Your techs have to be trained in both types."