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VUZ-2012-01 - EXPANSION
VUZ-2013-03 - 1ST A320 WITH SHARKLETS
VUZ-2013-03 - 50 MILLIONTH PASSENGER
VUZ-2013-08 - NEW A320 ORDER
VUZ-2014-08-BUSIEST AIRPORTS LESS BCN
VUZ-2014-08-EUROPE MOST HUBS
VUZ-2015-07 - Top 10 LCC.jpg
VUZ-2016-02 - AMS to Milan Malpensa-A.jpg
VUZ-2016-02 - AMS to Milan Malpensa.jpg
VUZ-2016-08 - Top 15 Routes.jpg
VUZ-Flight Crew Cabin Attendants - 2015-05.jpg
VUZ-Flight Crew Cabin Attendants-2015-05.jpg
VUZ-Flight Crew Cabin Attendants.jpg
Formed and started operations in 2004. Domestic and international, scheduled & charter, passenger and cargo, jet airplane services.
Parque de Negocios Mas Blau
Edificio Muntadas C/ Bergeda 1
El Prat de Liobregat
08820 Barcelona, Spain
SPAIN (KINGDOM OF SPAIN) WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1479, IT COVERS AR AREA OF 504,750 SQ KM, ITS POPULATION IS 41 MILLION, ITS CAPITAL CITY IS MADRID, AND ITS OFFICIAL LANGUAGE IS SPANISH.
February 2004: Calls itself the "1st New Generation airline company in Europe." It intends to link Barcelona with the main capitals of southwest Europe, operating an all-new A320 fleet.
Has secured starting capital of EUR 30 million. $36.6 million and hired management know-how of JetBlue Airways (JBL).
May 2004: A320-214 (2227), CIT (TCI) leased.
June 2004: In July 2004, Barcelona and Valencia to Brussels, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca, and Paris (CDG).
Main Base: Barcelona El Prat Airport.
July 2004: 5-year contract to Lufthansa Technik (DLH) (LTK) to provide total maintenance support, including line and base maintenance, component support and engine overhauls.
Ibiza, Paris (CDG) - Barcelona; Ibiza - Valencia; Barcelona - Brussels; Brussels - Valencia; Palma de Mallorca - Barcelona, Valencia.
A320 (CFM56-5B4/P), Boullioun (BOU) leased.
October 2004: Barcelona - Madrid (daily). Barcelona - Seville (daily). In November 2004, Valencia - Seville. In December 2004, Barcelona - Rome (FCO), Barcelona - Bilbao.
November 2004: In December 2004, Barcelona & Valencia - Milan (MXP).
December 2004: A320, Air Malta (MLT) wet-leased. A320-214 (2114, EC-JDO), ex-MyTravel Denmark (PRH), Boullioun (BOU) leased.
March 2005: A320-214 (2388), GECAS (GEF) leased. 6 orders A320-214's (ILF) leased.
July 2005: 180 employees.
Parent organization/shareholders: Apax Partners (39%); Inversiones Hemisferio (Grupo Planeta) (30%); management team (23%); & private investors (7%).
In its 1st full year of operations, Vueling (VUZ) has carried 1.2 million passengers. Punctuality of its flights was >85% with a ratio of 3.2 per 1,000 passengers for baggage loss, and has eliminated the overbooking concept. 94% of its sales were through its website, 3% by its call center, & 3% by agencies. Expects to carry >2 million passengers in 2005.
Currently operates 6 A320's, with +3 (CIT) Group (TCI) leased & +6 (ILF) leased for 15 by next summer.
August 2005: In October 2005, Barcelona to Amsterdam (A320, daily), and Valencia to Amsterdam (A320, 4/week).
September 2005: (CAE) will provide A320 pilots (FC) to Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling (VUZ) in what is known as a pilot (FC) "provisioning program." (CAE) committed to find A320 type-rated pilots for (VUZ) as well as to train those who do not have type ratings. Initially the program targets recruitment of 80 candidates over a period of 18 months.
(VUZ) will open a base in Madrid on November 15. (VUZ) will fly initially to Paris, Brussels, Rome and Barcelona from the Spanish capital. (VUZ) started operating out of Barcelona in July 2004 with 2 A320s. It now operates 6 180-seat A320s and expects to have 9 by year end. It will base 2 airplanes in Madrid.
October 2005: A320-214 (2540, EC-JMB), (CIT) Group, (TCI) leased.
November 2005: Vueling (VUZ) launched a 10x-weekly service from Barcelona to Amsterdam (AMS) and a daily service (AMS) to Valencia in a 1-class A320.
A320-214 (2596, EC-JNA), (ILF) leased. A320-214 (2623, EC-JNT), (CIT) (TCI) leased.
January 2006: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) signed a 5-year agreement with SR Technics (SWS) under which (SWS) will provide technical management and component support for (VUZ)'s fleet of 9 A320s.
(VUZ) will commence 3 new 2x-daily services from its base in Madrid to Amsterdam, Lisbon and Milan Malpensa on February 20.
February 2006: Vueling (VUZ) reported revenues of +€136 million/$163.2 million in 2005 and said it was profitable in the 2nd half of the year, without providing details.
(VUZ) carried >2 million passengers. "With these results, we have easily exceeded the company's initial business plan forecasts," (CEO) Carlos Munoz said.
(VUZ) launched service on July 1, 2004, and originally forecast revenues of +€115 million in its 1st full year of operations. It hopes to achieve turnover of €260 million in the current year and double the number of passengers to >4 million. (VUZ) also expects to operate >30,000 flights in 2006, 2x- the number in 2005. "We are confident we are a reference point in the European market, not just because of our management model and airline concept, but also because of our capacity for growth and weight in the sector," Munoz said.
(VUZ) is adding 7 new A320s to bring the fleet to 16 airplanes by year end. It recently finalized a €30 million capital increase, lifting its share capital to €60 million.
A320-214 (2678, EC-JPL), (CIT) Group (TCI) leased.
March 2006: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) will start a daily Barcelona to Santiago de Compostela flight aboard A320s from April 13. (VUZ) will inaugurate nonstop service from Barcelona to Venice on April 28th and operate a daily flight using an A320.
(VUZ) leased 3 new A320-200s (CF56-5B4/P) from ILFC (International Lease Finance Corporation) (ILF) and are scheduled for delivery in April 2007 and November 2007 and are leased for 6 years.
April 2006: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) has confirmed that it achieved profitability during the 2nd half of 2005, less than 18 months after its launch. It carried >2 million passengers last year, and has predicted this figure will more than double this year to >4.2 million.
(VUZ) will inaugurate nonstop service from Barcelona to Alicante on July 2nd and operate 1 daily flight using its A320.
A320-214 (2761, EC-JRI), (ILF) leased.
May 2006: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) will commence a daily Barcelona International to Granada service on June 29 aboard an A320.
A320-214 (2785, EC-JSY "Connie Baraja"), (ILF) leased.
June 2006: Will add a further 3 A320's to its fleet next year, (ILF) 6 year leased.
A320-214's (2794, EC-JTQ; 2798, EC-JTR), (ILF) leased.
August 2006: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) will inaugurate non-stop service from Madrid to Santiago de Compostela on September 14th and operate 1 flight a day Mondays through Wednesdays and 2 flights a day Thursdays through Sundays using A320s. (VUZ) will begin daily Santiago de Compostela to Paris Charles de Gaulle service on September 18 aboard an A320.
November 2006: Vueling Airlines (VUZ), which has positioned itself as a "new generation" carrier rather than a Low Cost Carrier (LCC), launched a Web-based frequent-flier program dubbed "Punto." Members can earn points on both tickets and gift vouchers and use them to pay for (VUZ) flights.
(VUZ) expects to lose -€7.1 million/-$9.1 million this year, but to post profits of +€24.2 million in 2007 and +€36.2 million in 2008, according to a regulatory filing and an Initial Public Offering (IPO) prospectus cited by press reports.
(VUZ) announced plans to further expand its fleet and network. With plans to set up a new hub outside of Spain, (VUZ), which expects to have 16 leased A320s in service by the end of the year, is expecting to boost its fleet to 37 airplanes by the end of 2008 and has begun talks with Airbus (EDS) and Boeing (TBC) about a possible order for 20 to 40 jets.
A320-214 (2962, EC-JYX), (ILF) leased.
December 2006: A320-214 (2988, EC-JZI), (ILF) leased.
January 2007: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) said it plans to open its 1st base outside Spain this year "in order to actively pursue its expansion plans," and is considering Paris Charles de Gaulle, Rome Fiumicino, Milan Malpensa, and Amsterdam. (VUZ) will announce the location of its 1st international base toward the end of this month. It carried 3.5 million passengers in 2006, up +75% from 2005, as it increased frequencies on existing routes and launched 17 new services. (VUZ) operated 28,382 flights last year, +70% more than in 2005. Its fleet grew to 16 A320s and it has an additional 9 airplanes scheduled for delivery this year. The (BCN) base continued to generate the most traffic, with 2.28 million passengers in 2006. (VUZ) launched July 1, 2004, and completed an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on December 1.
A320-214 (3040), delivery, ex-(F-WWDK).
February 2007: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) posted a net loss of -€10.8 million/-$14.2 million last year, a slight widening of the -€10.6 million loss suffered in 2005, and worse than its own forecast of a -€7.1 million deficit. Results were affected by new international accounting regulations, higher-than-expected publicity expenses and costs related to its Initial Public Offering (IPO). Revenues more than doubled to €235.6 million, as it launched service to 18 new destinations and carried 3.5 million passengers with a load factor >70% LF. (EBITDAR) of €28 million soared over the €1.63 million reported in 2005. It expects to double passenger boardings to 6 million in 2007.
(VUZ) completed its (IPO) in December, and announced it will use some of the proceeds to acquire up to 40 airplanes and open an operating base outside Spain. (CEO) Carlos Munoz said that (VUZ) soon will begin talks with Airbus (EDS) and Boeing (TBC), and that it will unveil the location of its 3rd base in the next couple of weeks, with Milan, Paris and Rome the most likely choices. The base likely will be operational by summer. (VUZ) intends to disclose details of its fleet purchase by the end of summer or beginning of autumn. It currently operates 17 A320s and plans to increase this to 25 by year end. Jordan Aircraft Maintenance Ltd (JorAMCo) reached a deal with (VUZ) to perform heavy Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) on its fleet of 14 A320s in Amman.
SR Technics (SWS) and (VUZ) signed a 12-year contract for (CFM56-5B4/P) services on (VUZ)'s 16 A320s. The deal includes a possible extension of 6 to 12 years.
March 2007: Starting May 16th, Paris (CDG) to Amsterdam; to Milan; & to Seville.
April 2007: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) launched daily Madrid to Venice service.
2 A320-214s (3083, EC-KDH; 3095, EC-KDG), (ILF) leased.
May 2007: Starts Alicante to Amsterdam, Malaga to Amsterdam.
June 2007: Starts Madrid to Naples, Seville to Paris (CDG).
A320-214 (3152, EC-KEZ), (RBS) Aviation leased.
July 2007: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) will establish its 4th European base in Seville (SVQ) at the end of October. (VUZ) will base 3 A320s at (SVQ) and launch new services to Venice, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Brussels, Milan Malpensa, and Bilbao. (VUZ), which is celebrating its 3rd birthday this month, currently operates from Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris Charles de Gaulle.
August 2007: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) reported a net loss of -€33.7 million/-$46.1 million in the 1st 6 months of 2007, widened from a deficit of -€6.5 million in the year-ago period, according to press reports from Madrid. Revenue climbed +57.3% to €149.7 million, but costs soared +79% as competitive pressures hammered yields. "Reuters" reported that (VUZ)'s average fare during the 2nd quarter plunged -23.4% to €39.71. (VUZ) lowered its full-year revenue guidance. It now forecasts a +57% to +64% increase from the €235.5 million reported in 2006, rather than the nearly +100% rise it predicted in February.
European low-cost carrier (LCC) seat capacity grew by +21% or 34 million seats in 2006 compared to 2005 and the sector accounted for around 30% of all intra-European seat capacity last year and 22% of departures, according to (RDC)'s "Low Cost Monitor (LCM) 2007." Although the growth of (LCC) departing seats slowed compared to the +27% increase experienced in 2005, "the actual increase in volume of seats offered by low-cost carriers was greater in 2006 than 2005," according to the report. The number of airports served by (LCC)s rose to 280 from 270 in 2005. Also, the number of intra-Europe seats offered by conventional airlines actually declined, dropping -1% compared to 2005. This is the 1st year-to-year decrease since the (LCM) series began. The conventional airline share of departing seats is now <70% versus 31% for (LCC)s.
Ryanair (RYR), easyJet (EZY) and Air Berlin (BER) accounted for 54% of low-cost capacity within Europe, down from 55% in 2005, while the top 10 (LCC)s accounted for 77%, down from 80%. Among other findings, the UK remained the largest (LCC) country with 56 million departing seats in 2006, but growth slowed dramatically to <11% per year. Stansted (STN) was the largest low-cost hub with 14.1 million departing seats last year, while Wroclaw was the fastest-growing low-cost airport and (VUZ) the fastest-growing (LCC) in terms of departing seats. The analysis also shows that at current growth rates, more than half of all European point-to-point passengers will be carried by (LCC)s by 2011. (LCC)s will account for 43% of the estimated 1 billion intra-Europe seats on offer that year.
Aviapartner signed a 3-year "network contract" with (VUZ) for the provision of ground handling services at Milan Malpensa, Rome Fiumicino, Venice, Brussels and Amsterdam. Aviapartner valued the contract at around €20 million/$27 million. It already handles (VUZ) in Milan, Rome, and Venice.
September 2007: Air France (AFA)/(KLM) is preparing to launch a bid for Iberia (IBE), in conjunction with several Spanish companies, Madrid's "Expansion" newspaper reported. The consortium likely would include investment firm Torreal and publishing house Grupo Planeta, which currently is the largest shareholder in Vueling Airlines (VUZ). The (AFA)/(KLM) offer would keep 51% of (IBE) in Spanish hands, allowing it to maintain its traffic rights for non-(EU) and USA routes. In recent weeks, (AFA)/(KLM) Chairman & (CEO) Jean-Cyril Spinetta has stated several times that the group is "studying" the (IBE) dossier. Earlier, British Airways (BAB) (CEO) Willie Walsh said that (BAB) is leading a consortium that itself is conducting due diligence on (IBE).
(VUZ), meanwhile, named former Go (GFL) (CEO) Barbara Cassani, Chairman to replace Jose Miguel Abad, who resigned along with 2 other board members representing Grupo Planeta following "disagreement about the management" of the company, (VUZ) said in a filing to the Spanish stock market regulator earlier. The departure of the Grupo Planeta (GP) representatives raised speculation that (GP), which holds a 15.87% stake in (VUZ) through Inversiones Hemisferio, might sell its shareholding to join Torreal and (AFA)/(KLM) in the bid for (IBE).
October 2007: Spain's stock market regulator (CNMV) suspended trading in Vueling Airlines (VUZ) following reports that (VUZ) might issue another profit warning in the coming days. (VUZ) said in early August that it would not meet its 2007 targets after cutting its average second-quarter fare by -23% in response to aggressive pricing by competitors. (VUZ) reported a net loss of -€33.7 million/-$48.1 million for the six months ended June 30, a sharp increase from the -€6.5 million loss it posted in the year-ago period. Last week, 3 board members (including Chairman, Jose Miguel Abad) representing Grupo Planeta (GP), resigned following a "disagreement about the management" of the company. The departure of the GP representatives raised speculation that (GP), which holds 15.87% of (VUZ) through Inversiones Hemisferio, might sell its shareholding to join Torreal and (AFA)/(KLM) in a bid for (IBE).
(VUZ), as expected, cut its profit and said it would not meet its 2007 financial targets. It is (VUZ)'s second profit warning in three months. In a statement to the Spanish stock exchange regulator, (VUZ) said (EBITDAR) could fall to a loss of up to -€10 million compared with a previous profit forecast of +€23 to +€42 million. It cited falling ticket prices, rising fuel costs and the euro/dollar exchange rate, as the main causes for the deteriorating results.
(VUZ) reported a net profit of Euro350,000/$498,750 for the 3rd quarter, a sharp decrease from the +Euro5.02 million earned in the year-ago period. "This reduction is completely driven by a fare decrease of -22%, which could not be completely offset by improvement in all other fundamental magnitudes, that drive the profit and loss account," (VUZ) said. (VUZ) operated 21 A320s on 54 routes at the end of the reporting period, versus 14 airplanes on 38 routes a year earlier. It added an A320 this month, and +2 will be delivered in November. (VUZ) will launch its 4th base in Seville, with 3 airplanes, next month. However, (VUZ) confirmed 1-year deferrals on deliveries of 6 airplanes, now scheduled to arrive in 2009, plus cancellation of 3 additional deliveries. 3rd-quarter revenue rose +49% to Euro118.4 million on a +84% increase in passengers carried to 2.1 million. Load factor improved +5.4 points to 84.5% LF. Average fare was ?40 compared to ?50.10 in the year-ago period. Unit revenue dropped -20% from 6.2 euro cents to 5, whereas (CASK) ex-fuel, fell -14% to 3.69 euro cents, and total (CASK) declined -11.4% to 5 euro cents. "These results are good, follow a positive trend in cost reduction, and enable the company to compete better in such a complex market," (CEO) Carlos Munoz commented, adding, "We still have a long way ahead." Early this month (VUZ) warned that full-year (EBITDAR) could swing to a -Euro10 million loss from a previously forecast profit of +Euro23 to +Euro42 million. (VUZ) said its cash position as of October 16, was >Euro112 million, and stated that "forecasts for the oncoming months show high levels of cash, even through the month of February, which represents a traditional low point in cash for airlines in general." The 4th-quarter outlook in terms of utilization and costs ex-fuel remains favorable, (VUZ) said, warning that the competitive situation remains "difficult, with most of the pressure coming from traditional carriers or their subsidiaries, especially (IBE), Clickair (CLK), and Spanair (SPP)."
Barcelona International Airport's new Sur terminal will be used by 42 airlines, including Oneworld (ONW) members and "associates" (CLK) plus Air Nostrum, and Star Alliance (SAL) members plus affiliates Air Comet (APZ) and Aerolineas Argentinas (ARG), Spanish airports operator (Aena) announced. (VUZ) also will operate from the new terminal. SkyTeam (STM) carriers, which requested to operate out of T Sur, instead will have exclusive use of the existing Terminal A, while other low-cost operators and airlines without intercontinental flights, will operate out of the B and C terminals.
A320-214 (3246, EC-KJY), delivery.
November 2007: Jordan Aircraft Maintenance Ltd (JorAMCo)'s Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) operation has a European presence thanks to its contract with Vueling Airlines (VUZ) (- see February 2007).
(VUZ) appointed Lars Nygaard as its new (CEO) taking over from Carlos Munoz. Nygaard joined the (SAS) Group in 1991, and joined its Spanish subsidiary, Spanair (SPP), 10 years later. He became (SPP) (CEO) in October 2005, but resigned the position recently. (VUZ) announced that Munoz and (COO) Lazaro Ros, who co-founded (VUZ) in 2003, will also step down as part of a deal aimed at ending a quarrel with the company's largest shareholder, Inversiones Hemisferio (IH). (IH) will retake its 3 seats on the board several months after walking out in disagreement over the strategy for a carrier, that has reported disappointing results and issued 2 profit warnings this year.
Barbara Cassani, who joined the board in June and has acted as Chairman since September 24, will be replaced in that post by Josep Pique. He served as Spain's Minister for Industry and as Foreign Minister from 2000 to 2002, and was President of the Partido Popular in Catalonia from October 2002 until July 2007. Dave Barger and Allen Custard have stepped down from the board, while Munoz, Ros and Cassani will remain. The new board will be ratified at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) scheduled for November 26, when the company also intends to reveal a new business plan for 2008. During the recent fallout, (IH) increased its shareholding in (VUZ) from 15.8% to 26.8%. (IH) is the investment vehicle of the Lara family, which controls Spain's largest publishing entity, Grupo Planeta.
(IH) Chairman Jose Manuel Lara confirmed rumors that the fund could take part in a consortium bidding for (IBE), "Reuters" reported. "Yes, yes [we are interested in (IBE)]," he said. "But it isn't urgent, nor is it a priority. If we had to decide right now, we couldn't get involved, because we're tied up with (VUZ)." Lara said the (IBE) deal seemed to have lost the momentum it had recently. "We're not going to be the ones to speed it up," he said, adding that he had spoken to all potential bidders. "This time suits us very well so we can normalize the situation at (VUZ)."
2 A320-214s (3293, EC-KKT), (GEF) leased, and (3321, EC-KLB "Vuelo y Punto"), deliveries.
February 2008: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) transported 450,707 passengers in January, up +38.6% on the year-ago month. Load factor slipped -1.7 points to 58.9% LF.
(VUZ) reported a sharp widening in full-year net loss to -€63.2 million/-$93.7 million, nearly 6x- worse than the -€10.8 million loss, posted in 2006, citing falling fares and record fuel costs as causes. (VUZ)'s average fare dropped >-20% in 2007 to €37.65, owing to strong competitive pressure from "traditional and low-cost carriers (LCC)s alike," it said, noting that the negative impact on its bottom line amounted to -€60 million. Revenue rose +54.3% to €362.7 million, on a +77% increase in passengers carried to 6.2 million. Load factor gained +3.7 points to 73% LF. Operating loss widened to -€70.9 million from -€10.3 million, the previous year. (CASK) was up +4.5% to 5.75 euro cents, but (CASK) excluding fuel, improved +1.4% to 4.33 euro cents.
In the 4th quarter, (VUZ) reported a net loss of -€30.9 million compared to a net loss of -€9.4 million in the year-ago period. Operating loss increased to -€32.5 million from -€9.4 million. Despite canceling delivery of 1 new A320, (VUZ) grew its fleet to 20 airplanes that now operate on 50 routes. In 2006, it operated on average of 12.3 airplanes on 31 routes.
(VUZ) is formulating a strategic plan to address its financial situation and is expected to release details next month. (VUZ) already has decided to discontinue several loss-making routes, including Paris Charles de Gaulle to Milan Malpensa, Jerez, and Seville, plus Madrid to Nice. (VUZ) has stopped operating to Bologna and Pisa, and will abandon Madrid to Amsterdam and Brussels, at the end of March.
(VUZ)'s largest shareholder, Inversiones Hemisferio, recently confirmed it was in talks with the owners of rival (LCC) (CLK) and other Spanish airlines about possible tie-ups.
SEE ATTACHED - "(VUZ)-PLANS-MAR08."
April 2008: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) carried 539,042 passengers in March, up +33% from the year-ago month. Load factor rose +1.6 points to 72.4% LF.
For details regarding Vueling (VUZ) France operations, see attached - - "VUZ-FRANCE-OPS-APR08."
May 2008: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) posted a pre-tax loss of -€32.4 million/-$50.1 million for the 1st quarter, a +47.1% increase over a -€22 million pre-tax loss in the year-ago period. Total revenues grew +48.2% to €88.6 million on a +32.1% rise in passengers carried to 1.4 million. Total operating costs climbed +44% to €120.8 million. Operating loss jumped +32.6% to -€32.2 million from a -€24.3 million year-ago loss. (VUZ) started what it called a "capacity-optimization process" during the quarter and reduced its fleet from 24 to 21 A320s at quarter's end. Looking forward, (VUZ) said it expects to achieve a "sensible reduction" in losses for 2008 compared to 2007, even with higher average fuel prices and is aiming to achieve profitability in 2009.
A320-214 (3529, EC-KRH "Vueling in the Sky"), (ILF) leased.
June 2008: Clickair (CLK) and Vueling Airlines (VUZ) shareholders likely will produce a Memo of Understanding (MOU) in the coming weeks that will trigger the merger of the 2 Barcelona-based Low Cost Carrier (LCC)s, Iberia (IBE) Chairman & (CEO) Fernando Conte said. The deal must be presented to the market regulator and competition authorities before a merger can take place. (IBE) will be the majority shareholder in the merged entity, but will not control the company, Conte said. He said discussions regarding the composition of management and the name of the successor airline, continue, and denied recent rumors that the merged (LCC) would keep the Vueling (VUZ) name. Conte said it would not be a typical (LCC), but an airline featuring a "new business model" tailored to the new environment in Europe. "It will be a point-to-point carrier but offer several features a traditional (LCC) does not have," he revealed, acknowledging that the merged carrier will stay closer to the (CLK) model than that of (VUZ). All flights will have the (IBE) IB code and be available for booking through its computer reservation systems. He said (IBE) "will be a 100% network carrier, with our main base in Madrid."
July 2008: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) and Clickair (CLK) agreed to merge, according to a statement sent to Spanish stock market regulators cited by both "Thomson Financial" and "Reuters." No further details were available. (VUZ) and (CLK) have been talking for months and Iberia (IBE) Chairman & (CEO) Fernando Conte, whose airline will be the majority shareholder in the merged carrier, said at last month's (IATA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) that a deal was imminent.
(VUZ) named (IBE) VP Maintenance Operations Jose Luis Quiros as (COO).
August 2008: Spanish airports first 6 months total passengers, change % (year/year): 1. Madrid 25,714,487 (+4.9%); 2. Barcelona 15,104,278 (-2.1%); 3. Palma 9,841,476 (+0.8%); 4. Malaga 6,102,736 (-1.8%); 5. Gran Canarias 5,177,911 (+2.2%); 6. Alicante 4,562,068 (+11.5%); 7. Tenerife Sur 4,301,020 (+2.3%); 8. Valencia 2,905,657 (+5.1%); 9. Lanzarote 2,712,208 (+3.7%); 10. Girona 2,661,883 (+25.5%).
A320-214 (2678, A6-ABZ), leased to Air Arabia (ABZ).
September 2008: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) is showing some financial improvement, but is still mired in losses. The merger with Iberia (IBE)-backed Clickair (CLK) may help.
November 2008: 2 A320-214s (3540, LZ-FBC; 2596, LZ-FBD), Vueling (VUZ) leased to Hemus Air (HMS), and it wet leased them to Bulgaria Air (LZB).
January 2009: The European Commission (EC) is expected to announce the outcome of its 1st-stage review of the proposed merger of Clickair (CLK) and Vueling Airlines (VUZ). Shareholders of the 2 Barcelona (BCN)-based Low Cost Carrier (LCC)s agreed on the terms of a merger in July and an initial submission was filed with the Spanish competition authority (CNC), which in August referred the file to the (EU)'s Director General Competition. The (EC) has asked the carriers for remedies, mainly slot surrenders at (BCN) on certain routes (to Seville, for example), in order to address competition issues and possible market dominance.
Insiders expect the (EC) to approve the merger based on the latest exchange of remedies, which took place Monday, although they noted that the opening of a more in-depth second-stage investigation is possible. The blocking of the merger is regarded as unlikely. Under the terms of the shareholders' agreement, Iberia (IBE) will own 45% of the merged entity's capital while Inversiones Hemisferio (IH) will be the 2nd-largest shareholder at about 13% to 14%. Air Nostrum will hold 5%. (IH) currently is (VUZ)'s largest shareholder while (IBE) holds 20% of (CLK).
(CLK) will be absorbed into (VUZ), which will be the name of the merged entity. The company will remain listed on Madrid's stock exchange. (VUZ) shareholders will have the right to nominate the non-executive Chairman and (CLK) shareholders will name the new (CEO). Although not formally announced, reports indicate (VUZ) Chairman Joseph Pique will retain that title and (CLK) (CEO) Alex Cruz will be (CEO). If cleared by the (EC), the new (VUZ) will become Spain's 2nd-largest carrier. (VUZ) carried 5.9 million passengers last year, down -4.8% from 2007, with an average of 16 airplanes compared to 24 the prior year. (CLK) at year end operated 26 A320s and boarded some 6.5 million passengers in 2008, up 41.3% year-over-year.
Later, the (EC), as expected, granted conditional approval for the merger of (CLK) and (VUZ). Clearance depends upon the release of slots at Barcelona "and other European airports to address competition concerns." (CLK), (VUZ) and (IBE), which will hold 45% of the new airline, have offered to cede slots on "all routes where competition concerns were identified," according to the (EC).
February 2009: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) reported a +€8.5 million/+$10.8 million net profit last year, a welcome reversal from the -€78.5 million lost in 2007, as it implemented a restructuring plan. Full-year revenue increased +21% year-over-year to €438.9 million as costs rose +8.1% to €469.7 million. Operating loss narrowed -57% from -€71.7 million to -€30.8 million in 2007.
As part of its turnaround plan (VUZ) cut its capacity (ASK)s by -28%, dropped 8 airplanes and axed 21 routes (all the while boosting frequencies for business passengers (C) in key markets (including Barcelona - Madrid). It also included a new distribution strategy, involving selling tickets through Amadeus and Galileo, to result in average fares jumping +25% during the quarter, while ancillary revenue spiked +40%.
(VUZ) reduced its fleet from 24 A320s in January 2008 to 16 in December. Four leased airplanes were returned in the fourth quarter. It operated 35 routes at year end, 21 fewer than on the same date one year earlier. Passenger numbers decreased -5.4% to 5.9 million and load factor fell -2.4 points to 70.3% LF on a +5.4% lift in capacity (ASK)s.
The average fare per passenger rose +23.4% to €54.33 and average ancillary revenue per passenger jumped +76.4% to €10.55. Unit revenue increased +14.3% to €5.52 cents and (CASK) was up +2.6% to €5.91 cents. Unit cost excluding fuel was down -7.8% to €4.02 cents. The carrier's fuel bill surged +42.3% during the year to €150.5 million.
In the 4th quarter, net loss came in at -€10.54 million/-$14 million, a +77.1% improvement from the -€46.1 million lost in the year-ago quarter. Operating loss narrowed to -€11.8 million from -€33.4 million.
Looking forward, (VUZ) said 1st-quarter prospects "are very positive, both in revenue and cost lines." It expects revenue per flight to grow +10% to +15%, while costs will fall as fuel expense drops -40%.
The Vueling Airlines board approved the merger with Clickair (CLK). (CLK) will increase its share capital to 5 million shares and will exchange each one for three (VUZ) shares, according to a regulatory filing cited by Dow Jones. (VUZ) and (CLK) will hold an equal number of shares in the new company that will keep the (VUZ) name. (CLK)'s board, controlled by Iberia (IBE), still must approve the deal.
The (CLK) board approved the merger with (VUZ) and said (CEO) Alex Cruz will hold the same position at the merged carrier that will keep the "Vueling" (VUZ) name. Current (VUZ) Chairman Josep Pique will be Chairman of the new entity, according to a statement cited by "Reuters." The Spanish stock market regulator still must sign off on the tie-up.
March 2009: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) and Clickair (CLK) have started cross-selling seats online on all domestic and international flights as the first step in a joint marketing initiative launched by the merging Spanish Low Cost Carriers (LCC)s.
The combined timetables went live on their respective websites. The cross-selling agreement gives customers of both airlines access to >10 million seats on a network comprising 89 routes and 45 destinations. "Even though both companies are moving towards a full merger, the cross-selling agreement is still a commercial alliance. Both companies are still formally separate entities until the merger is formally completed," (CLK) Marketing Director Jaime Lloret said.
The merger received (EU) approval in January and the boards signed the merger covenants last month. Remaining regulatory and legal steps are expected to be finalized by late June or early July. Upon completion, the new (VUZ)'s majority shareholder will be Iberia (IBE) at 40% to 45%. Inversiones Hemisferio, (VUZ)'s current controlling shareholder, will see its stake diluted to approximately 15% from 28%. Some 25% of the new (VUZ)'s stock will continue to be traded on the Madrid Stock Exchange. (CLK) (CEO) Alex Cruz will be (CEO) of the merged company and current (VUZ) Chairman Josep Pique will be the non-executive Chairman.
After the merger, flights operated by the new (VUZ) will code share with (IBE), as (CLK) has since its launch in 2006. All (CLK) flights have been available via the Internet or through traditional Global Distribution Systems (GDS)s via the (IBE) code share. (GDS) sales at (CLK) currently account for nearly 40% of all seats sold.
April 2009: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) is predicting another full-year profit after reporting a +72.2% year-over-year improvement in its first-quarter net loss to -€6.3 million/-$8.2 million from the -€22.6 million reported in the year-ago period. (VUZ) cited its restructuring plan aimed at increasing revenue per flight and decreasing its overall cost base. "(VUZ) expects for the combination of higher revenues and lower costs to significantly improve its second quarter (Q2) margin with regards to the same period last year, leading for a positive result for the whole of 2009," (VUZ) said. It posted a +€8.5 million profit in 2008.
Revenue fell -15.5% to €74.1 million and operating costs dropped -30.1% to €83.7 million. Operating loss improved +70% from -€32.2 million to -€9.6 million. Revenue grew +10.8% on a per-passenger basis to €68.55 on a +9.9% increase in average fare to €46.50 and a +22.6% gain in ancillary revenue to €10.19. Unit revenue rose +17.6% to €4.94 and CASK fell -2.8% to €5.58.
Traffic decreased -26.8% to 999 million (RPK)s on a -28.1% reduction in capacity as (VUZ) cut its fleet to 16 A320s from 23 one year ago and trimmed its network by 15 routes to 44. Passengers carried fell -23.7% to 1.1 million and, for the first time over the past five quarters, load factor increased +1.3 points to 66.6% LF. (VUZ) will operate one additional airplane during the second quarter. It is in the process of finalizing its merger with Clickair (CLK).
June 2009: The Clickair (CLK)/Vueling (VUZ) merger is expected to be completed by mid-July, when the combined entity will start flying under a unified designator code and a single name (Vueling) (CLK)/(VUZ) and all Clickair (CLK) assets will be transferred to the listed Vueling Airlines (VUZ) company. "It will be confusing for passengers," (CLK) (CEO) Alex Cruz, who will be (CEO) of the merged entity, conceded. "We hope to reach 30% to 40% of passengers in advance of their journey and we will put manpower in the airports, at the entrance, the check-in and security lines, to help them with the changes." In the UK, for example, (CLK) (is well known but (VUZ) is not at present.
Beyond initial passenger confusion, the merger will work well, Cruz contended. He explained that the service offerings of (CLK)/(VUZ) are nearly identical, as are their fleets, helping to facilitate a smooth integration. "And the European Commission (EC) [has] allowed us to work commercially together since January," he added.
The new (CLK)/(VUZ) will operate under one Air Operators Certificate (AOC) and fly a fleet of 35 A320s, 17 from Vueling (VUZ) and 18 from Clickair (CLK). No capacity will be removed following the merger, Cruz said, noting that both carriers reduced their fleets by a total of 15 airplanes in the past year owing to falling demand and increasing competition.
Just 28% of the pair's (ASK)s capacity overlap, equating to about 20 of their 92 routes. The overlapping capacity will be used "to strengthen other routes and launch new routes," he said. The new (CLK)/(VUZ) will generate revenue of around €800 million/$1.12 billion annually, he estimated. Revenue synergies resulting from the merger should generate €40 to €45 million in a "normal" year and cost synergies will lead to savings of -€75 million over 3 years, he said. Both companies posted a negative (EBIT) last year; (CLK) reported a €45.6 million operating deficit on revenue of €444.3 million and Vueling (VUZ)'s operating loss amounted to €38.2 million on revenue of €437.6 million.
July 2009: Iberia (IBE) will not be required to launch a full bid for Vueling Airlines (VUZ) following its merger with Clickair (CLK), Spanish stock market regulator "CNMV" ruled. (IBE) will own 45.9% of the merged entity, exceeding the 30% threshold that normally triggers the obligation to make a full bid under domestic regulations. Completion of the two competitors' merger is expected in mid-July.
The new merged carrier uses the "Vueling name" and (IBE) holds 45.9%, Hemisferio/Planeta 14.3% and Air Nostrum parent Nefinsa 4.2%. (VUZ) operates 35 A320s (18 former (CLK)) on 92 routes to/from 42 destinations in 18 countries. "The new (VUZ) must deliver a 3-year plan to the board in October and a zero-growth plan is unlikely to be acceptable," (CEO) Alex Cruz said. It expects annual revenue of €800 million/$1.12 billion and an initial €40 to €45 million in synergies.
The merged airline is flying under one Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and holds a 6.8% share of the Spanish market, based on (AENA) figures for the 1st 5 months of this year, making it the 2nd-largest Spanish carrier after (IBE), which has a 15.8% market share and owns a 45.85% stake in the new (VUZ). Ryanair (RYR) and easyJet (EZY) hold 10.9% and 7.2% market shares in Spain respectively.
Along with the integration, (VUZ) moved operations to Terminal 2B at its Barcelona base, though it will move to the new T1 in September. On the 1st day of joint operations, it operated 263 flights on 71 routes.
SEE ATTACHED - - "VUZ-CLK-JUL09."
August 2009: INCDT: A Vueling Airlines (VUZ) A320 "experienced a small fire" in its right engine while being pushed back from Paris Orly's Terminal South, triggering an emergency evacuation. Flight VY9127 was bound for Alicante and had 165 passengers on board. All passengers and crew were evacuated, although eight suffered minor injuries, (VUZ) said in a statement.
October 2009: The Spanish government will lend domestic airlines up to €600 million/$895.8 million in 2010 to 2012 in order to "avoid possible restructuring or bankruptcies."
November 2009: French slot coordinator (COHOR) said it redistributed a pool of 6,672 slots at Paris Orly for the summer 2010 season, with half awarded to carriers with new entrant status and half to incumbents. New entrant slots were allocated to easyJet Switzerland (TEB) for 2 daily flights to Venice, Vueling Airlines (VUZ)/(CLK) and Pegasus Airlines (PGS) for 1 daily flight each and to Wizz (WZZ) for 4x-weekly flights to Bratislava. Incumbent slots were allocated to (TAP) Portugal for 3x-daily flights, Iberia (IBE) for 1 daily flight, Midex Airlines (MIX) for 3x-weekly flights, and Air Algerie (ALG) for 1 weekly flight.
January 2010: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) flew 758 million (RPK)s traffic in December, up +89.9% year-over-year, against a +96% rise in capacity to 1.1 billion (ASK)s. Load factor fell -2.2 points to 68.8% LF.
(VUZ) carried more than >8 million passengers in 2009, +39.3%. Traffic (RPK)s were up +34.3% and capacity up +28.1% (ASK)s, with +3.2 points to 73.7% LF.
February 2010: Benefitting from its merger with Clickair (CLK), Vueling Airlines (VUZ) reported a 2009 net profit of +€27.7 million/+$37.6 million, a more-than-threefold increase from the +€8.5 million it earned as a standalone company in 2008.
Turnover rose +36.3% to €601.6 million, including a +42.9% jump in passenger ticket revenue to €456.8 million. Expenses increased +12.4% to €530.2 million. (VUZ)'s +€71.4 million operating profit (excluding restructuring costs) compared to negative (EBIT) of €30.5 million in 2008.
(VUZ) flew 7.5 billion (RPK)s traffic in 2009, up +34.3%, on a +28.1% hike in capacity to 10.2 billion (ASK)s. Load factor gained +3.4 points to 73.7% LF. It operated an average of 26 airplanes during the year. Passenger numbers grew +39.3% to 8.2 million, and average fare inched up +2.6% to €55.73. However, ancillary revenue per passenger fell -17.7% to €9.02, owing to a change in its insurance policy from opt-out to opt-in, which followed European Union (EU) regulations, in addition to an increase in sales through offline channels where some ancillary products are included in the basic fare. Unit revenue was up +6.4% to €5.91 cents, (CASK) fell -12.3% to €5.21 cents and unit cost excluding fuel rose +3.4% to €4.18 cents.
In the fourth quarter, (VUZ) posted a net loss of -€13 million, +23% greater than the -€10.6 million deficit reported in the year-ago period. Revenue increased +84% year-over-year to €160 million.
Looking forward, (VUZ) said it expects to capture €15.5 million in cost synergies this year and revenue synergies of €20 million in just the first half. These combined synergies, taken in conjunction with recently launched cost and revenue improvement plans totalling more than €25 million in value, "should allow (VUZ) to more than offset the effects of increased competition and improve net margins of 2010 in respect to 2009." It plans no "significant" changes in the size the fleet.
April 2010: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) reported a -€6.3 million/-$8.4 million first-quarter net loss, on par with the deficit it posted in the year-ago quarter as a standalone company, despite a +90% rise in revenue to €141.8 million.
Vueling (VUZ) merged with Clickair (CLK) last July and its first-quarter revenue, cost and traffic figures are much higher year-over-year owing to the combination. Total expenses climbed +84% to €154.8 million and operating loss deepened +35% to €13 million from €9.6 million in the year-earlier period. On a pro-forma basis, first-quarter net loss more than halved from a consolidated -€13.9 million loss for (VUZ) and (CLK) in the first quarter of 2009. Pro-forma revenue rose just +2%.
Passengers carried more than doubled to 2.2 million. Traffic grew +98% to 1.98 billion (RPK)s on a +88% capacity increase to 2.8 billion (ASK)s, pushing load factor up +3 points to 70% LF. (RASK) declined -1% to €.051 and (CASK) decreased -2% to €.058. (CASK) excluding fuel fell -7% to €0.043. It operated 98 routes with 35 airplanes during the quarter compared to 45 routes and 19 A320s a year earlier.
(VUZ) said it is on "on target for an improved net profit" for the full year despite the negative effect of the volcanic ash cloud in the second quarter. It also expects "a high degree of competitive intensity" and an increase in fuel costs in the current quarter. It cancelled 482 flights affecting 72,249 passengers owing to the airspace closure. It aims to reduce (CASK) ex-fuel to €0.04 cents for the full year.
June 2010: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) flew 842.9 million (RPK)s traffic in May, up +103.9% year-over-year, while capacity jumped +102% to 1.18 billion (ASK)s; large increases are attributable to its merger with Clickair (CLK) in July. Load factor rose +0.6 point to 71.5% LF.
Vueling Airlines (VUZ) will start connecting passengers through its base at Barcelona El Prat (BCN) from July 5, a move that it expects will allow it to carry +250,000 to +350,000 additional travelers this year and another +1 million or more next year.
The new connectivity will provide passengers with 418 "Vueling (VUZ)-to-(VUZ)" city-pairs through Barcelona. Customers will buy only one ticket when booking the flights. (VUZ) will charge only one transaction fee and connect baggage at no additional charge despite its aim to increase ancillary revenue.
Vueling (VUZ) is (BCN)'s largest airline, with a 24% share of passengers carried in the first quarter based on data from (Aena). (BCN) is Vueling (VUN)'s largest base, with 43 routes in Spain, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Some 65% of its passengers fly in or out of the airport.
(VUZ)'s new transfer function coincides with the airport’s aspiration to build a hub and will come at virtually no additional cost to the airline, CEO, Alex Cruz insisted. "We maintain our guideline that we will achieve (CASK) ex-fuel of 4 euro cents for the current financial year," he said. "There will be no changes to our scheduling. We remain fundamentally a point-to-point airline. [The new connectivity] is an add-on that will run on top of our main premise that a short-haul operation cannot survive today without obsessing on having the lowest cost structure." As a "new-generation" carrier, he added, "we won't stop implementing 'traditional' products/services as long as we don't break the first premise."
The sole additional fixed cost will be transfer counters at the airport, according to Cruz. El Prat's new Terminal 1 features a new baggage handling system that will facilitate the transfers. (VUZ) will offer a number of "advantages" to passengers having to wait more than >2 hours between flights. If the connection is between 2 hours and 4 hours, customers will have free Wi-Fi access, discounts in stores and restaurants and free access to a playground area. If the connection exceeds 4 hours, passengers also will enjoy discounts at the airport's Wellness Spa, hairdresser and a VIP area.
(VUZ) expects that most of the demand for the new connectivity will come from passengers in France, Italy, the Netherlands, and some Central European countries en route to Spanish destinations.
(VUZ) is adding new routes linking the Balearic Islands (Ibiza, Mallorca, and Menorca) to Italy. (VUZ) will operate thrice-weekly summer seasonal service between Barcelona and Edinburgh using an A320 June 24 to September 12.
2 A320-211s (0158, EC-FCB; 0199, EC-ICQ "Iker Ochandarena"), Iberia (IBE) leased.
July 2010: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) reported second quarter net income of +€13.5 million/+$17.5 million, a more than fourfold increase over a +€3 million profit in the year-ago quarter, when it was still a standalone company. (VUZ), which merged with Clickair (CLK) last year, attributed the improved net profit in to its "cost reduction program and the capture of merger synergies." (VUZ) said the negative (EBIT) impact of April's European airspace closures was “in excess” of >€1 million. (VUZ) merged with (CLK) last July and revenue, cost and traffic figures for the first two quarters of 2010 are much higher year-over-year owing to the combination.
Second-quarter revenue doubled to €211.1 million. Total expenses climbed +106% to €189.9 million and operating profit rose +59% to €21.2 million from €13.4 million in the year-earlier period. Passengers carried heightened +102% to 2.8 million. Traffic grew +97% to 2.52 billion RPKs on a 90% capacity increase to 3.5 billion ASKs, lowering load factor -1.1 points to 72% LF. The average base fare per passenger increased +1% year-over-year to €66.57, while average ancillary revenue per passenger decreased -17% to €8.04 “mainly due to the increase in sales through the Global Distribution System (GDS) channel (from 19% to 33% in 2010) in which some of ancillary products are already included in the basic fare,” it noted.
(RASK) improved +6% to €0.0602 and (CASK) increased +9% to €0.0542 owing to an increase in fuel costs. (CASK) excluding fuel fell -1% to €0.041. It operated 95 routes with 35 airplanes during the quarter compared to 56 routes with 17 A320s a year earlier prior to the merger.
For the 2010 first half, (VUZ) earned +€7.1 million, reversed from a -€5 million deficit in the year-ago period. Revenue soared +97% to €352.9 million and total expenditure rose +96% to €344.7 million. (EBIT) jumped +119% to €8.2 million from €8.2 million in the first half of 2009.
August 2010: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) CEO, Alex Cruz confirmed that (VUZ) plans to add six airplanes next year and said the company is in talks “with all the major airplane manufacturers as well as current and some potential [new] lessors.”
(VUZ) currently deploys 36 A320s. Cruz has in the past been very adamant that a short/medium-haul carrier in Europe needs to operate a single fleet type to keep costs low, and he indicated this week that the airline may switch to a 737 fleet. Several of (VUZ)’s A320s will come off lease in 2012. “Our first objective is to grow the fleet to 42 airplanes in the peak summer [of 2011],” Cruz said. “2009 was the year of the merger [with Clickair (CLK)] was the year of consolidation and 2011 will be the year of resuming growth. The new (VUZ) is building a sustainable model and is profitable, we’re confident we are ready to begin growing again.”
Faced with intense competition and a worsening economic environment, both (VUZ) and (CLK) reduced their fleet before the last July's merger: (VUZ) trimmed its fleet by seven to 17 and (CLK) by eight to 18.
"The company achieved an EBIT of €75.8 million/$99.7 million in the first 12 months of the merger, fourfold the operating profit generated in the 12 previous months," Cruz said. "We made a profit and achieved a merger that made sense. (VUZ) is now the leading airline in three of its six markets: Barcelona (BCN), where we hold a 25% market share, Seville with a 35% share, and Bilbao with 23%.”
(VUZ) posted net earnings of +€13.5 million in the second quarter, up from +€3 million in the year-ago period as a stand-alone company or up +89% from +€7.1 million on a pro forma basis.
Cruz is also pleased about (VUZ)’s new connections function launched at (BCN) July 5. “The new connectivity, transferring passengers and their luggage between Spanish and international destinations in our network, was very successful," he said. "We have achieved over >€3 million in sales already from new connecting passengers."
Comment from Steve Jefferson to the above situation:
Six new airplanes? - - so far so good...
Trouble is: where is (VUZ) going to place them? Let's look at all of Vueling's six bases.
> Madrid? (VUZ) won't be allowed. Iberia (IBE) is already in there (Vueling (VUZ) cannot be "independent" to the point of stepping into Iberia (IBE)'s turf).
> Valencia? (VUZ) won't be allowed either. There is (IBE)'s Air Nostrum (and (VUZ) already gave up a total of 12 routes during this very summer season, in order to benefit them).
> Bilbao? Ummmm . . . Air Nostrum has a base there too (same problem as Valencia above) and Ryanair (RYR) will start flying in the wintertime, nonetheless. Looks bleak.
> Seville? Ryanair (RYR) has also announced a base there. Jeez, (RYR) is everywhere!
> Barcelona? Another Ryanair (RYR) base, starting September 1st! The impact at the (EBIT) line will surely run for tens of millions of euros at the (EBIT) line for 2010 alone.
> Malaga? A (RYN) and easyJet (EZY) airport. (VUZ) does not stand a cost-base comparison.
Fine, you will say. What about a new base?
> Paris is out of the question. (VUZ) tried and they failed.
> Rome would be nice, were it not for it being too late.
> Brussels, Amsterdam et al are nothing but blah, blah, blah.
So (VUZ)'s only chances are medium-sized cities but, alas!, these are part of Ryanair (RYR)'s realm.
So the question remains: where are they going to place those planes?
It's all too easy to say "I'm gonna buy/lease "x" many planes" without providing a realistic account of where they're going to place them.
September 2010: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) flew 1.21 billion (RPK)s traffic in August, a +8.6% increase year-over-year. Capacity jumped +12.1% to 1.47 billion (ASK)s and load factor fell -2.6 points to 82.1% LF.
Vueling Airlines (VUZ) added a 37th ex-Iberia (IBE) A320-200. (VUZ) plans to add two more bases in Spain in 2011 and has introduced new routes to its network:
Barcelona - Amman Queen Alia: weekly seasonal, A320-200 service ended August 28;
Barcelona - Ciudad Real: 4x weekly, A320-200 service starting on November 1;
Barcelona - Edinburgh: 3x weekly seasonal, A320-200 service between June 24 and September 12;
Barcelona - Istanbul Sabiha Gökcen: 4x weekly seasonal, A320-200 service between June 24 and September 27;
Barcelona - Ljubljana: 2x weekly seasonal, A320-200 service between June 26 and September 10;
Barcelona - Tel Aviv Ben Gurion: 3x weekly, A320-200 service started on June 14;
Bilbao - Milan Malpensa: 4x weekly, A320-200 service starting on October 31;
Ciudad Real - Paris (CDG): 2x weekly, A320-200 service starting on November 3;
Granada - Paris (CDG): 3x weekly, A320-200 service resumed on July 5;
Ibiza - Amsterdam: 4x weekly seasonal, A320-200 service until September 12;
Palma de Mallorca - Rome Fiumicino: 2x weekly, A320-200 service starting on September 12;
Valencia - Munich: 3x weekly seasonal, A320-200 service between June 24 and October 2.
Vueling (VUZ) has started offering connections via its Barcelona base on July 5 and expects that this move will increase its yearly passenger numbers by several hundred thousand. The new Palma - Rome route is part of a new cooperation agreement with the tourism organization of the Balearic islands, that also foresees new routes from Menorca to Rome Fiumicino and from Palma de Mallorca to Venice Marco Polo in 2011. (VUZ) has, however, given up its Barcelona - Casablanca, Barcelona - Nice, Seville - Casablanca, and Seville - Valencia routes earlier this year. It will also give up its routes from Valencia to Bucharest Otopeni on September 13, from Valencia to Ibiza on September 22, and from Seville to Venice Marco Polo on October 12.
October 2010: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) continued this year’s solid performance in the third quarter with a +€43.3 million/+$60.2 million net profit, although this was down -2% compared to the year-ago period.
Total revenue increased by +7% to €276.6 million and revenue per passenger rose +1% to €79.15. (EBIT) decreased -13% to €59.4 million owing to increased fuel costs and the dollar/euro exchange rate.
Empowered by slightly better market conditions in Spain, (VUS) said it will “resume its path for growth” and confirmed plans to add six airplanes to its fleet in the first half of next year. (VUZ) signed an agreement for three A320s and negotiations for a further three are ongoing. It currently operates 37 A320s from six bases throughout Spain on 96 routes in Europe and North Africa. It is looking to open several new bases, domestic and outside Spain, in 2011.
(VUZ) uplifted 3.5 million passengers in the reporting period, up +5% over the 2009 period. (RPK)s rose +8% to 3.3 billion on a +11% increase in (ASK)s to 4.1 billion. Load factor decreased by -2.6 points to 77% LF. Cost per (ASK) inched up +2% to 5.25 eurocents on a +24% rise in unit fuel expense. (CASK) excluding fuel fell -4% to 3.85 eurocents. (RASK) fell -4% to 6.68 eurocents. It launched 17 new routes in the quarter.
Net profit for the nine months ended September 30, rose +24% to €50.4 million. The year-ago period includes three-months of combined Vueling (VUZ)-Clickair (CLK) results. Revenue rose +43% to €629.5 million. (VUZ) expects full-year (EBIT) to be in the range of €60 to €70 million at current exchange rates and fuel prices. The reduction of ex-fuel (CASK) to 4 eurocents remains one of the main objectives for the year.
Looking forward to 2011, (VUZ) said it expects to start feeding Iberia long-haul flights at Barcelona El Prat (BCN) from April 1 and possibly other Oneworld (ONW) alliance carriers in the “not too distant future.” (VUZ) started connecting passengers, and their baggage, on its own network at its main base in (BCN) in July.
December 2010: Vueling (VUZ) will open a base in Amsterdam (AMS) in April, and will launch service to Zurich, Alicante, and Palma de Mallorca, bringing the number of direct routes it operates from the airport to 10. (VUZ) currently operates three year-round routes from Schiphol to Barcelona, Malaga, and Valencia and four summer routes to Ibiza, Seville, and La Coruna. (VUZ) will station one A320 at (AMS), which will be its second base outside Spain after the merger with Clickair (CLK) in 2009. Last month, it announced it would launch a base in Toulouse-Blagnac airport in late April, with one A320 and four new direct routes to Pisa, Venice, Ibiza, and Malaga.
January 2011: Vueling (VUZ) will launch thrice-weekly, Barcelona - Bordeaux service on April 15. Amsterdam and Toulouse bases both open in April.
February 2011: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) posted net profit of +€46 million/+$62.7 million for 2010, a +66% increase on the +€27.8 million it earned in 2009 following its merger with Clickair (CLK). The increase comes despite a €5.2 million impact from the many disruptions experienced last year, such as the volcanic ash crisis in April, adverse weather in central Europe and Spanish air traffic controller (ATC) strikes.
On a pro forma basis, net result rose +89%. Revenue jumped +32% to €796.5 million on a +35% increase in seats flown to 15.9 million and a +35% growth in passengers carried to 11.1 million, owing mainly to the effect of the merger. Expenses rose +39% to €736.5 million with a +76% hike in fuel cost to €184.5 million. (EBIT) decreased -16% to €60.1 million.
“During 2010, (VUZ) has faced a tougher competitive environment due to the increase in capacity of some of the competitors at some of the main (VUZ) bases. Despite this adverse environment, (VUZ) has managed to maintain its leading position in four of its seven bases,” (VUZ) stated, noting that market share at its main base at Barcelona El Prat increased +7 points to 26% and +11 points at Bilbao to 23%.
Ticket revenue rose +33% to €703.2 million and ancillary revenue rose +26% to €93.4 million; the latter represents only 2% of total revenue. Average fare per passenger fell -1% to €63.7 and ancillary revenue per passenger decreased -6% to €8.46. (RASK) decreased -1% to €cents5.87, mainly owing to shorter average stage lengths and the impact of the competitive environment on ticket prices. (CASK) ex-fuel dropped -3% to €0.041.
For the fourth quarter, net loss was reduced -66% to -€4.4 million from -€13 million in the year-ago period. Revenue increased by +4% to €167.04 million.
(VUZ) said it expects a “tougher competitive environment” in its own markets, especially at some of its main bases such as Barcelona airport (BCN), where Ryanair (RYR) established a base in September.
(VUZ) will add six A320s to its fleet this year to support new bases in Amsterdam and Toulouse, as well as an increase in routes and frequencies in current markets. It plans to take over flight connection operations for Iberia (IBE) in Madrid with five A320s on short-term lease from (IBE) during the March to October period.
In total, (VUZ) will increase the number of flights by +15% this year and forecasts a similar increase in passengers.
(VUZ) is to temporarily sub-lease six A320s from part-owner Iberia (IBE) and take over a number of (IBE)'s routes from Madrid Barajas. (IBE), which holds a 45% stake in (VUZ), will sub-lease the airplane to (VUZ) for a period of eight months, beginning in early April, (VUZ) CEO, Alex Cruz said.
The airplanes are held on operating leases by (IBE) but will be painted in (VUZ) colours for the duration of the renewable contract. (VUZ) will operate the flights both as point-to-point routes and as connecting services to other flights operated by (IBE). The two carriers will code share on the flights, as is the case with the rest of the flights in (VUZ)'s network.
Cruz says the routes will be a combination of domestic and international, but he declines to disclose which destinations (IBE) will be handing over. The agreement will boost the number of airplanes (VUZ) has based at Madrid to nine from the current three. "This is an opportunity for us to have a relationship with a major carrier at a major hub," says Cruz, adding that the agreement will act as a test-bed to see if (VUZ) can successfully act as a feeder to (IBE)'s long-haul operation.
Beyond the eight month contract period, Cruz says it is "undecided" whether the agreement will be renewed, partly renewed or terminated. Cruz said last year that (VUZ) would boost frequencies on certain routes from Barcelona this year to enable it to connect to flights operated by other airlines, as part of a strategy to establish its Barcelona El Prat airport (BCN) base as a connecting hub.
April 2011: Vueling (VUZ) will operate thrice-weekly, London Heathrow - Vigo service from April 16 until October. (VUZ) will launch five-times-weekly, A320 Amsterdam - Zurich service on September 14.
May 2011: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) reported a first-quarter net loss of -€23.6 million/-$35 million, widened from a -€6.3 million deficit in the year-ago period, citing sharp increases in fuel costs and a “significant” -15% fare reduction owing to the weak domestic Spanish market and increased competition. The adverse environment “forced tactical flight schedule cuts,” resulting in a -6% (ASK) capacity reduction year-over-year.
Revenue fell -10% to €126.2 million and pure fare revenue was down -11% to €110.7 million. It also reported a -5% drop in ancillary revenue. Total costs increased by +5% to €162.4 million, mainly owing to a +20% increase in fuel expense to €41.4 million. Other costs remain constant resulting from a cost-reduction program, which led to a savings of €1.5 million in the reporting quarter. Over the full year, the cost-reduction program will bring savings of €13.1 million through 75 different initiatives. First-quarter operating loss was -€33 million, compared to a negative (EBIT) of €13 million in the year-ago period.
Average fare per passenger fell -4% to €53.5. (RASK) dipped -5% to €0.048. (CASK) ex-fuel rose +7% to €0.047. Total (CASK) rose +12% to €0.06.1. (VUZ) flew 1.83 billion (RPK)s, down -7.4% from the year-ago quarter on a -6.1% reduction in capacity to 2.65 billion (ASK)s, producing a 69% LF load factor, down one point. Passenger numbers fell -7% to 2.1 million.
The disappointing first-quarter results will not affect (VUZ)’s plans to growth passenger volume to 12.5 million passengers this year, +15% more than in 2010, (VUZ) said.
As reported earlier, (VUZ) concluded an agreement with Iberia (IBE), which holds a 46% stake in (VUZ), to operate several short- and medium-haul routes to/from Madrid. The agreement initially covers the (IATA) summer schedule but is extendable.
(VUZ) is leasing five airplanes to support (IBE) operations and adding six A320s to support organic growth. It opened new bases in Amsterdam and Toulouse last month.
Looking forward, (VUZ) warned increasing fuel prices are a “significant threat for the whole airline sector” and the “significant fall” in fares could continue over the coming periods, although an increase in competitive intensity is not expected.
A320-200 (GEF) leased.
August 2011: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) is a domestic and international low cost carrier (LCC) with its base in Barcelona providing services to 50 cities within Spain and the Balearics Islands, as well as across Europe and North Africa.
Employees = 1,150.
(IATA) Code: VY - 30. (ICAO) Code: VLG - (Callsign - VUELING).
Parent organization/shareholders: Iberia (IBE) (45.85%); Inversiones Hemisferio (Grupo Planeta) (14.3%); Nefinsa (4.2%); & Free Float (35.6%).
Main Base: Barcelona El Prat Airport (BCN).
Hubs: Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS); Bilbao Airport (BIO); Paris Orly Airport (ORY); Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD); Malaga Airport (AGP); Seville Airport (SVQ); Toulouse Biagnac International Airport (TLS); and Valencia Manises Airport (VLC).
Domestic, scheduled destinations: Barcelona; Bilbao; Madrid; Palma de Malaga; Mallorca; Seville; & Valencia.
International,scheduled destinations: Amsterdam; Brussels; Milan; Paris; Rome; & Toulouse.
September 2011: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) will launch daily, Barcelona - Lille service at the end of March 2012. (VUZ) will double the frequency of its Bilbao - London Heathrow service to 2X-daily on October 30.
October 2011: (ARINC) renewed its contract with Vueling Airlines (VUZ) to continue to provide (ACARS) Data Link and OpCenter Message Management Service.
A320-214 (4855, EC-LOC), ex-(F-WWBF), (BOC) Aviation (SIL) leased.
November 2011: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) reported a third-quarter net profit of +€41 million/+$55.3 million, slightly down from a +€43.3 million net profit earned in the year-ago period. It expects to obtain a positive result for the full year despite high fuel prices and a difficult macroeconomic and operating environment.
Third-quarter revenue grew +19.5% year-over-year to €330.5 million, while costs jumped +24.2% to €269.7 million, mainly owing to a +50.6% leap in fuel costs. Other costs (ex-fuel) rose by +14.5%, in line with the capacity growth of +12.2% to 4.64 billion (ASK)s. Operating profit was +€60.8 million, up +2.4% from a €59.4 million (EBIT) last year.
Passengers carried increased significantly, with +20.8%, to 4.2 million on a +17.4% increase in seats flown to 5.3 million, producing a load factor of 81% LF, up +3.1 points year-over-year. (RASK) increased +6.5% to 7.12 euro cents. (CASK) rose +10.7% to 5.81 and (CASK) ex-fuel, rose +2% to 3.99 eurocents.
International and domestic networks both had passenger growth, (VUZ) said. New bases in Amsterdam and Toulouse contributed positively to the growth in international traffic, while the Madrid (MAD) operation, based on the agreement with Iberia (IBE), was the main driver of domestic traffic. The (IBE)-(VUZ) cooperation started this summer and is being extended for the current winter schedule, with (VUZ) operating three routes for (IBE).
(VUZ) said it will continue exploring opportunities to reach new commercial agreements with other airlines. It also “envisages the possibility of a greater process of consolidation in the markets in which it operates. This would offer new growth to Vueling (VUZ).”
January 2012: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) has restructured its network for this winter season and has introduced several new routes at the expense of others:
Barcelona - Aalborg: 2x weekly A320-200 service starting on March 25;
Barcelona - Brest: 2x weekly A320-200 service starting on March 25;
Barcelona - Cardiff: 3x weekly A320-200 service starting on March 27;
Barcelona - Copenhagen Kastrup: 4x weekly A320-200 service starting on March 25;
Barcelona - Florence: daily A320-200 service starting on March 25;
Barcelona - Groningen: 2x weekly A320-200 service starting on April 28;
Barcelona - Lille: 6x weekly A320-200 service starting on March 25;
Barcelona - Lyon: 5x weekly A320-200 service starting on March 25;
Barcelona - Marseilles: 4x weekly A320-200 service starting on March 25;
Barcelona - Munich: 2x daily A320-200 service starting on March 25;
Barcelona - Stockholm Arlanda: 4x weekly A320-200 service starting on April 30;
Barcelona - Strasbourg: 3x weekly A320-200 service starting on March 25;
Madrid - Amsterdam: 2x daily A320-200 service has started on October 30 (in addition to parent Iberia (IBE));
Madrid - Berlin Tegel: 2x daily A320-200 service has started on October 30 (in addition to parent (IBE));
Madrid - Copenhagen Kastrup: 3x weekly A320-200 service has started on October 30 (in addition to parent (IBE));
Madrid - Florence: 3x weekly A320-200 service starting on March 27;
Malaga - Lyon: weekly A320-200 service starting on February 11;
Nantes - Rome Fiumicino: 3x weekly A320-200 service starting on May 1;
Paris Orly - Florence: 4x weekly A320-200 service starting on March 25. SEE ATTACHED - - "VUZ-2012-01 - EXPANSION."
Vueling (VUZ) has transferred the domestic flights from Madrid to Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and Palma de Mallorca back to parent Iberia (IBE) after operating the routes for the summer 2011 season. It has also temporarily suspended its routes from Bilbao and Valencia to Milan Malpensa for the winter timetable season. Its routes from Barcelona to Bucharest Otopeni, St Petersburg and Verona, from La Coruna to Amsterdam, Paris (CDG) and Seville, from Madrid to Rome Fiumicino, Venice Marco Polo and Warsaw, from Santiago de Compostela to Malaga, Paris (CDG) and Zurich, from Seville to London Heathrow as well as from Valencia to Amsterdam have been permanently removed from its network by November 2. Vueling (VUZ) has also given up its route from Barcelona to Ciudad Real, leaving the airport on October 29 leaving the airport that had only been opened in fall 2008 without any scheduled service. The airport has since been closed by a bankruptcy judge.
(VUZ)'s main base, Barcelona El Prat Airport (BCN)'s passenger volumes grew +17% in 2011, making it one of the fastest growing airports in the world, let alone Europe. However, nearby Girona Airport saw its traffic (RPK)s drop -38% as a result of RyanAir (RYR)'s removing a large number of its flights. Also, nearby Reus airport saw traffic fall as well in 2011, although just by -4%.
Barcelona handled 34.4 million passengers in 2011, +5.2 million more than in 2010. Vueling (VUZ) carried +12% more passengers in 2011, increasing capacity (ASK)s by +6%, and load factor by +2 points.
Vueling Airlines (VUZ) will add five A320s and one A319 this year to support its organic growth as it launches 44 new routes and at least three new bases, (CEO), Alex Cruz said. (VUZ) is also proceeding with plans to order “at least” 50 new airplanes.
(VUZ) has an all-leased A320 fleet; the potential purchase tender has been in the pipeline since early last year. “We announced last year we would go through a re-fleeting exercise this year. This is the first time ever in Vueling (VUZ)’s history. We have issued documentation to vendors and we are expecting their responses now and doing vendor visits,” Cruz said. He said (VUZ) was talking to “all manufacturers with an open mind to the models,” such as the A320 family, 737 family and Bombardier C Series, noting that “the MAX or [A320]neo is not our worry now — we want to make the right financial decision.” Cruz said he hopes to place the order before the summer and confirmed (VUZ) has already started the first few rounds of pre-delivery payment financing.
Cruz did not detail the exact size of the order but said it would be for “at least” 50 narrow bodies, to substitute its entire leased fleet plus growth.
The six new airplanes will also add 23 new routes to its base at Barcelona (BCN), lifting its network there to 70 direct routes. Its (BCN)-based fleet will grow by five airplanes to 28 airplanes (plus one back-up airplane) this summer, representing a capacity growth of around +20%. It will open a base at Palma de Mallorca (PMI) with one airplane; one of its two new international bases will be announced in March.
“We are showing that Vueling (VUZ) is growing organically in its market each year with about six airplanes,” Cruz noted. This summer, (VUZ) will have 48 airplanes. Cruz reiterated an earlier outlook that (VUZ) expects to report a profit for 2011.
“The fact that we are looking at a profitable 2011 against the background of a great deal of competition and increased fuel prices allows us to begin to think that there is a possibility that we do have a sustainable model,” Cruz said.
Vueling (VUZ) has wet-leased two A320-200s to Andes Líneas Aéreas (ADZ) for three months.
March 2012: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) is adding five ex-Spanair (SPP) A320-200s that it will use for the expansion of its network from various Spanish airports, mainly on previous Spanair (SPP) routes.
April 2012: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) launched 3X-weekly, Cardiff - Barcelona El Prat A320 service, and will launch 3X-weekly, Cardiff service to Alicante and Palma de Mallorca on June 24.
May 2012: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) reported a first-quarter net loss of -€16.3 million/-$21 million, an improvement of +28.7% from €23.6 million in the same period last year. Revenue was up +32.5% to €168.5 million compared to €126.2 million in the year-ago period. (VUZ) carried 2.6 million passengers, +24% more than the year-ago quarter.
(VUZ) attributed the positive performance to “consolidation in the main markets in which (VUZ) operates,” and an “improvement in unit revenues together with a greater capacity operated compared with last year.”
Capacity (ASK)s increased +10.6%. Load factor rose +7.3% points to 76.4 LF. (RASK) increased +18.8%, up to 5.70 euro cents year-over-year.
Costs continue to affect profitability, with a +38.4% increase in fuel costs accounting for the lion’s share. (VUZ) said this increase “has had a significant effect on (UZ)’s cost base, although the hedging policy has helped to soften this price increase.” Unit fuel costs per (ASK) rose +22.1% year-over-year.
Overall, costs rose +20.3% to €195.3 million from €162.4 million in the year-ago quarter. Non-fuel costs were up +14.1%, largely due to a +12.2% increase in the number of flights operated.
In line with (VUZ)’s expansion plans, (VUZ)’s fleet will increase to 59 by the third quarter, increasing capacity from between 20% and 25%; the airline expects to operate 53 new routes this summer. Flights to Italy will increase +22%, to France, +44%, and to Russia, +65%.
(VUZ) has signed an interline agreement with British Airways (BAB), giving it access to an extensive network of connections through London Heathrow, and growing its business passenger services.
(VUZ) warns that high oil prices and weak domestic demand (combined with a proposed increase in passenger airport taxes at Spain’s airports) could have a negative impact on demand.
(VUZ) has increased its net cash to €277.9 million as of March 31, up +€31.3 million from year end 2011, which means the company is still operating without financial debt.
(VUZ) expands in the Netherlands with services from Barcelona to Groningen.
Vueling (VUZ) promoted Director Quality & Safety In-flight, Fernando Val to (COO), and Director Revenue, Julio Rodriquez to Director Network Planning, Revenue Management & Distribution.
August 2012: Vueling (VUZ) posted a second-quarter net profit of +€7.7 million/+$9.5 million, more than double the +€3.6 million it earned in the same quarter last year.
Revenue rose +29.2% to €297 million year-over-year, while the number of passengers flown increased +18.5% to 3.88 million. Load factor was 75.5% LF, up +2.3%.
(VUZ) attributed the increase in passenger numbers partly to a doubling of passengers connecting through its home base of Barcelona El Prat Airport (BCN). The Spanish market is also consolidating following the 2011 closure of (BCN)-based Spanair (SPP).
Fuel costs rose 34.5% from the year-ago quarter following an expansion in (VUZ)’s activities, which increased +21.3% in (ASK)s compared to the year-ago period. Excluding fuel, costs dropped by -0.3% year-over-year.
Surveying the market situation, (VUZ) said the domestic air traffic in Spain (one of the countries worst hit by the eurozone crisis and experiencing severe unemployment) dropped -11% in the second quarter compared to the same period in 2011. Traffic between Spain and the rest of Europe rose +0.2%.
Despite the depressed market conditions, (VUZ) raised passenger numbers on both its domestic and European services. It said it has seen “significant” increases in consolidated markets such as Italy (up +16%) and France (up +34%), and opened new markets in Scandinavia and Germany.
Looking ahead to the second half, (VUZ) said it expects to make an operating profit for the year and take advantage of its higher market share at (BCN) and greater market consolidation.
However, (VUZ) warned that increases in general taxation and passenger taxes at Spanish airports (together with the government’s austerity plan) could affect demand.
September 2012: XL Airways Germany (SGU) has temporarily wet-leased A320-200 (2407, EC-JGM) from Vueling Airlines (VUZ) to cover for 737-800 (28226, D-AXLG) which has been severely damaged and grounded at Frankfurt International (FRA) following a collision with a ground vehicle on August 8.
October 2012: Vueling (VUZ) will operate new Barcelona El Prat service to Dresden, Rennes, Fez, Rhodes, and Kos for the summer season beginning March 2013.
Vueling (VUZ) (CEO), Alex Cruz has vowed that Barcelona El Prat (BCN) will overtake Frankfurt Airport(FRA) as Europe’s leading airport for short-haul flights in 2014.
Over the past two summers, (VUZ) has added 45 new routes from (BCN), which it claims has positioned the airport as No 2 in Europe by number of short-haul flights. Building on this growth, (VUZ) has announced plans to add another +28 new routes in 2013, taking it to more than >100 destinations from (BCN).
“We would like to make our Barcelona hub the number one connecting airport in Europe, with the highest number of short- and medium-haul destinations under 4.5 hours. We think we can achieve this in 2014, even if Lufthansa (DLH) adds a couple more destinations,” Cruz said. “You can think of us as a short-haul Qatar Airways (QTA), based in Barcelona. (VUZ) wants to have the short-haul connectivity and reach that Qatar (QTA) has worldwide.”
(VUZ) is still actively looking to expand its network and is eyeing further expansion in 2014. “We will continue looking at destinations within a maximum of 4.5 hours’flight time. We think there is still a lot to be flown. We will continue pursuing destinations which require bilateral agreements because these are underserved,” Cruz said.
Although (VUZ) originated as a budget carrier, it has evolved to offer a full-service product. By the end of 2013, its network-wide proportion of business travelers is expected to hit 50%, compared to easyJet (EZY), which has achieved 40% on some routes.
From March 2013, (VUZ) will introduce new routes from (BCN) to (FRA), Dusseldorf, Dortmund, Dresden, Hannover and Stuttgart in Germany; Sofia in Bulgaria; Fuerteventura, Pamplona and Valladolid in Spain; Rennes in France; Banjul in the Gambia; Rhodes and Kos in Greece; Bologna, Bari, Catania and Turin in Italy; Luxembourg; Casablanca, Fez, Nador and Tangier in Morocco; Bergen, Gothenburg, Helsinki and Oslo in the Nordics; and London Gatwick in the UK.
November 2012: Vueling (VUZ) launched services on its second route to Copenhagen (CPH) on 31 October. (VUZ), which already serves the Danish capital with 12 weekly flights from Barcelona, now also offers twice-weekly Copenhagen-bound departures from Málaga (AGP), which is located on the Spanish Costa del Sol. Josep Piqué, (VUZ)’s President, underlined that: “Málaga is extremely important for us, as it concentrates traffic from the north to the south, from cold to heat.”
(VUZ) is opening another new base in the Canary Islands at Gran Canaria.
December 2012: The International Airlines Group (IAG) subsidiary, Veloz Holdco has initiated the process to purchase Vueling Airlines (VUZ). It has applied to Spain’s National Securities Market Commission for authorization to launch a tender offer for the remaining shares of the Barcelona-based, low-cost carrier (LCC).
The (IAG) currently has no direct shareholding in (VUZ), but its subsidiary, Iberia (IBE) holds 45.85% of (VUZ). The (IAG)’s tender offer would purchase the remaining 54.15% of (VUZ) stock, giving the group 100% ownership of the airline. (IBE) will retain its current shareholding.
The (IAG) announced its intention to launch a voluntary cash tender offer last month and created Veloz Holdco for this transaction. The offer will be launched exclusively on the Spanish stock markets and the cost of acquiring the 54.15% stake is anticipated to be €113 million/$146.5 million. The (IAG) said the acquisition would be funded using internal resources.
Subject to authorization from the Securities Market Commission, the offer will be launched in the 2013 first quarter and is expected to be completed in the second quarter. It is not subject to regulatory approval by the European Commission (EC).
Vueling (VUZ), which already has a base in Rome, will now open one in Florence. (VUZ) is seeking to diversify away from its economically battered home country, by boosting its presence in only marginally better-off Italy with new Florence flights to Berlin, Copenhagen, Hamburg, and London Heathrow. (VUZ) will launch Copenhagen service to Florence (4X-weekly, March 23, A319) and Alicante (3X-weekly, June 18, A320). It already serves this resplendent renaissance city (Florence) from Barcelona, Madrid and Paris Orly. In contrast, it is closing its Toulouse base, where the fight with Airfrance (AFA) and easyJet (EZY) is far too formidable.
(VUZ) will launch daily flights from London Heathrow to Palma de Mallorca with the introduction of its summer timetable on 23 March 2013. (VUZ) will operate the flights with an A320 from Heathrow's terminal 3. (VUZ) will also commence twice-daily, London Gatwick - Barcelona flights starting from 22 March 2013.
January 2013: In 2012, Vueling (VUZ) increased its traffic by +27% (RPK)s and +23% (ASK)s capacity.
(VUZ)'s impressive performance over the past few years could turn out to be a blessing and a curse. (VUZ) is doing so well that the International Airlines Group (IAG), which is already a shareholder, plans to fully acquire (VUZ) in 2013. The question is whether that will be a major advantage or impact the business model and reduce (VUZ)'s ability to grow in its niche. (VUZ) has been one of the most creative low-cost carriers (LCC)s with (CEO), Alex Cruz at the helm, and it is going against traditional (LCC) behavior by opening up to connecting traffic and cooperating with legacy carriers. So far, it all looks good, but major challenges are still ahead.
(VUZ) will launch Copenhagen service to Florence (4X-weekly, March 23, with A319s) and Alicante (3X-weekly, June 18, with A320s).
(VUZ) has inked a deal to lease four new A320-200s from Bank of China’s BOC Aviation (SIL). (SIL) said the (IAE) (V2522-A5)-powered airplane will be delivered in the first half of this year.
“Our plan is to link Barcelona to over >100 destinations in Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East this year and the A320-200s from BOC Aviation (SIL) will be used on these routes. We closed the transaction with (SIL) very quickly,” Vueling (VUZ) (CEO), Alex Cruz said.
(VUZ), which is being acquired by the International Airlines Group (IAG), is Spain’s second largest airline and operates out of 13 bases in Europe. It is aiming to turn Barcelona El Prat Airport into Europe’s main hub for short- and medium-haul flights by 2014.
MNG Technic (IST) won a contract from Vueling (VUZ) for "6YE" airplane maintenance checks of two A320 airplanes.
March 2013: Vueling (VUZ) reported annual net income of +€28.3 million/+$37.4 million, more than doubled from a +€10.38 million profit in the year-ago period.
(VUZ) said the results were due to consolidation in European markets, increasing market share at Barcelona airport to 30%, positioning itself as third largest in terms of volume at Paris Orly and Rome Fiumicino airports; passenger traffic increased and costs grew at a lower rate than expected. This is the fourth consecutive year of profits for (VUZ).
Revenue rose +27.7% to €1.1 billion, while expenses increased +25.5% to €1.07 billion, producing an operating profit of +€33.2 million, up +191.6% from a +€11.4 million operating profit in the prior year.
In the fourth quarter of 2012, (VUZ) posted revenues of €219.9 million, an increase of +24.9%, with expenses rose +23.5% to €240.1 million to post a net loss of -€13 million, down -18.1% from a loss in 2011 of -€11 million.
Traffic rose +26.6% to 13.69 billion (RPK)s on a +23.1% increase in capacity to 17.62 billion (ASK)s, producing a load factor of 77.7% LF, up +2.1 points.
(RASK) increased +3.6% to 6.25 euro cents and (CASK) (including fuel) decreased -1% to 6.15 euro cents. (CASK) ex-fuel, was 4.29 euro cents, down -1.6%.
Vueling (VUZ) shareholders have been advised by the airline’s management not to accept the takeover offer from the International Airlines Group (IAG) because it is undervalues the company.
Late last year, the (IAG) announced it was planning to offer €7/$9.12 per share to acquire the remaining 54.15% of (VUZ) not already owned by its subsidiary Iberia (IBE), which holds a 45.85% stake. The (IAG) plans to retain (VUZ) as a separate operating company, with its own business model, maintaining its Barcelona base and existing management team. “The board of (VUZ) understands that the majority integration into the (IAG) group would provide advantages and opportunities for the interests of the company,” a (VUZ) spokesperson said. “But it doesn’t recommend to shareholders to sell at a price of €7.”
Although the €7 per share offer was +28% higher than (VUZ)’s closing price on November 7, the price has since risen to €7.85 at the close of business March 7. Following the (VUZ) announcement, the share price spiked at €8.37.
An (IAG) spokesperson said, “We are reflecting on (VUZ)’s announcement and will provide an update in due course.”
The original (IAG) offer valued Vueling (VUZ) at €209 million.
Later, The International Airlines Group (IAG) upped its takeover offer for Spanish carrier Vueling (VUZ) to €9.25/$11.90 per share after an original bid of €7.00 per share was rejected by Vueling (VUZ)’s management.
Late last year, the (IAG) announced it was planning to offer €7.00 per share to acquire the remaining 54.15% of (VUZ) not already owned by its subsidiary Iberia (IBE), which holds a 45.85% stake.
Back in November this offer represented a 27% premium on (VUZ)’s share price. However, by March, the share value had risen to €7.85 so (VUZ)’s management advised its shareholders to reject the offer.
The (IAG) came back with a fresh offer of €9.25/$11.90 per share, saying: “[Takeover vehicle] Veloz Holdco will submit the documentation relating to the amended offer with the Spanish National Securities Markets Commission (CNMV) for its authorization on or before 3 April 2013.”
It has also extended the acceptance period from 39 to 48 days and reduced the minimum acceptance conditions from 90% of the (VUZ) voting rights not owned by Iberia (IBE) to 1,244,029 Vueling (VUZ) shares, or 4.16% of (VUZ)’s share capital.
As Europe’s trendiest city destination for the best part of the last decade, Barcelona is crammed with stunning architecture, sublime art, world-renowned gastronomy and nightlife, all finished off with miles of golden beaches stretching along the Mediterranean coast. Located only about two hours’ flying time from the British capital, it has long attracted Londoners craving the best of both worlds and, while Barcelona showed an overall passenger traffic growth of +2.2% in 2012 (compared to average decline of -5.5% at Spanish airports), the market from London produced an outstanding increase, not only recovering the all-time high of 2007, but improving on it by +16%.
Examination of (CAA) data shows that in the years preceding the recession, traffic in the market from London to Barcelona was growing at an average of +1.2% (2002 - 2007), reaching its peak of 1.8 million in 2007. Although the full-blown effects of the Spanish construction industry crisis and the financial misfortunes of the City of London were not fully felt in 2008, when traffic diminished by -2.5%, it did materialize in the following two years: traffic fell by -12.8% and -11.3%, respectively, to produce total passengers of 1.4 million – - a market size last observed in the 1990s. Notably, October 2009 saw the departure of Iberia (IBE), the Spanish flag carrier from the market. Disappearance of (IBE)’s four-weekly services to London Heathrow were partly offset by its (IAG) partner, British Airways (BAB), which stepped up its frequencies from four-weekly to daily.
2010 was the turning point for traffic recovery in the market, and in 2011, traffic figures showed an improvement of +22%, followed by +26% growth in 2012. A total of 2.1 million people travelled on the route connecting the British and Catalan capital last year.
Now, all six London airports have links to Barcelona, with London Heathrow and Gatwick almost equally sharing two thirds of the traffic. The latter has, however, experienced more dynamic traffic growth in the last two years (+37.7% and +43.7% respectively in 2011 and 2012, compared to +17.2% and +3.9% for Heathrow), a trend which is set to continue in 2013. The only airport to outdo Gatwick in terms of passenger growth last year, albeit starting from a considerably lower base, was London Stansted (+64%). Two other London airports, City and Luton, saw traffic decline respectively by -10.8% and -5.2%, while easyJet (EZY)’s launch of daily services from London’s latest airport last April, led Southend to account for 3% of the total traffic in the market in 2012.
Weekly average capacity data for the market in June 2013 shows some interesting capacity shifts within the London airport system. In summer 2012, two main airports to offer services to Barcelona, London Gatwick and Heathrow, commanded, respectively, 35.6% and 34.6% of the total seat capacity in the market. This proportion is no longer valid for summer 2013, as Gatwick will see an increase of almost +70%, while the capacity offered (entirely by British Airways (BAB)) from Heathrow, decreases by -3.3%. Gatwick’s growth is fuelled by the launch of thrice-daily flights by (BAB), which now serves Barcelona from three London airports, as well as by new entrants to the market: – Vueling (VUZ) (twice-daily, launching 23 March), and Norwegian (NWG) (thrice-weekly, launching 4 April). SEE ATTACHED - - "VUZ-2013-03 LONDON-BARCELONA-A/B."
London Stansted will lose a third of its Barcelona capacity in summer 2013, as easyJet (EZY) withdraws its daily schedule. (EZY) will also reduce capacity to Barcelona from London Southend, down to six weekly from daily. No changes have been reported neither for London Luton, where easyJet (EZY) continues to provide twice-daily frequencies, nor for London City, which has a daily British Airways (BAB) service.
In summer 2013, 78% of weekly frequencies and 64% of weekly seats in the market from London to Barcelona will be offered by only two carriers: British Airways (BAB) and easyJet (EZY), which both serve the Mediterranean city from three London airports. (BAB) will offer +30% more frequencies and +21% more seats in the market in June 2013 compared to the same period a year before, while (EZY) reduces its offering respectively by -11% and -13%.
Once it launches its new route, Vueling (VUZ) will match Ryanair (RYR) in terms of frequency share, even though it will provide marginally less capacity in terms of weekly seats. At the same time, Monarch Airlines (MON) removes one of its 11 weekly frequencies from London Gatwick. Norwegian (NWG)’s entry to the market is set to have a limited impact as (NWG) will command less than <2% of weekly frequency and capacity.
Early January saw the opening of the missing high-speed rail (HSR) link between London and Barcelona, and the overland journey can now be completed with two stops (in Paris and Figueras) in around 10 hours. With prices from under <£200 for a return journey and the growing trend toward slow travel, the rail offering might attract some traffic away from airlines, especially during peak summer months, when one-way fares can exceed >£200. However, Barcelona’s appeal as a weekend break and business destination suggest that this enhanced rail offering should not have a major impact on air traffic, unlike in the case of the introduction of high-speed connections on shorter distances.
SEE PHOTO OF A320 CELEBRATING - - "VUZ-2013-03 - 50 MILLIONTH PASSENGER."
(VUZ) this year is the airline growing its market share the fastest in Morocco. Last summer, (VUZ) operated just one route between Barcelona and Marrakech, but is adding six new routes this summer, four more from Barcelona and one each from Bilbao and Paris Orly. It will face head-to-head competition with at least two other carriers on four of these routes. Only the Bilbao – Marrakech route will be uncontested. The following details its expansion:
On 16 May 2013: Barcelona - Casablanca, 4x weekly, competing with Air Arabia Maroc (4x weekly), & Royal Air Maroc (RAM) (9X weekly); Barcelona - Tangier 3X weekly, competing with Air Arabia Maroc (3X weekly), Jetairfly (2X weekly); & (RAM) 5X weekly).
On 19 May 2013: Barcelona - Fez (2X weekly), competing with Ryanair (RYR) (3X weekly); Barcelona - Nador (2X weekly), competing with Air Arabia Maroc (3X weekly); Jetairfly (1X weekly); & (RYR) (3X weekly).
On 1 June 2013: Paris Orly - Casablanca (7X weekly), competing with Airfrance (AFA) (7X weekly); Jetair fly (3X weekly) & (RAM) (43X weekly).
On 21 June 2013: Bilbao - Marrakech (2X weekly).
Vueling (VUZ) commenced operations on the 2,100 km route from Málaga (AGP) to Hannover (HAJ) on 16 March. (VUZ), which initially offers twice-weekly departures on the route, will increase frequencies to thrice-weekly in the last week of June. On the same day, (VUZ) also connected Barcelona (BCN) to this German city, launching the new route with thrice-weekly frequencies. (VUZ) will face direct competition from Lufthansa (DLH)’s in-house (LCC) germanwings (RFG) on the Barcelona route. All flights will be operated using A320s.
Vueling (VUZ), which in the previous week inaugurated two routes from Spain to Hannover, continued its expansion in Germany, as it connected both Berlin Tegel (TXL) and Hamburg (HAM) with Florence (FLR) in northern Italy. Moreover, flights to the Italian destination are now offered by (VUZ) also from Copenhagen (CPH). The 1,300 km route from Palma de Mallorca (PMI) in the Balearic Islands to London Heathrow (LHR) is offered with daily frequencies and is the only route on which Vueling (VUZ) faces competition.
(GE) Capital Aviation Services Limited (GECAS) (GEF) announced it will lease three A320s to Vueling Airlines (VUZ) to expand the low-cost carrier (LCC)’s fleet. Delivery of the first airplane is scheduled for this month.
By the summer of 2013, (VUZ) will operate a fleet of 70 airplanes to more than >100 destinations in Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa.
Vueling (VUZ), the largest low cost carrier (LCC) in Spain, has taken delivery of its first A320 airplane equipped with Sharklet fuel saving wing tip devices, becoming the first Spanish carrier to do so. Including this delivery, (VUZ)’s in-service fleet rises to 61 A320 Family airplanes. SEE ATTACHED - - "VUZ-2013-03 1ST A320 WITH SHARKLETS."
April 2013: Vueling (VUZ) has unanimously recommended that shareholders accept an improved takeover offer of €9.25/$12.10 per share from the International Airlines Group (IAG).
The (IAG), which already owns 45.85% of Vueling (VUZ) as well as British Airways (BAB) and Iberia (IBE), last month raised its bid by almost one-third after a previous offer of €7 per share was rejected.
“The board of (VUZ) recommends shareholders accept the improved offer for the following reasons: the price is reasonable and within the valuation issued by experts and from a strategic point of view the deeper integration of (VUZ) in the (IAG) will offer advantages and opportunities,” (VUZ) said in a notice sent to stock exchange regulator (CNMV).
(IAG) (CEO), Willie Walsh was quoted by "Reuters" as saying the (IAG) would not merge Vueling (VUZ) with Iberia (IBE) if its takeover bid was successful. He said the profitable (VUZ) business would operate separately from loss-making (IBE) after the takeover.
The (IAG), which is trying to lay off more than >3,000 workers and cut salaries at (IBE) to return the unit to profitability, could use Vueling (VUZ) to boost its short-haul business and compete with cheaper operators, according to "Reuters."
Later, on April 23, the International Airlines Group (IAG) will own 90.51% of Spanish carrier Vueling (VUZ) after the majority of the Barcelona-based carrier’s shareholders agreed to sell to the (IAG).
(VOZ) inaugurated services on three new routes later this month, all of which present (VOZ) with competition from incumbent carriers. Notably, two of the three newly-launched services involve Brussels (BRU); of those, the route to Málaga (AGP) was previously operated by (VUZ) until March 2008. This brings to four the number of destinations served by (VUZ) from Brussels; it serves Barcelona with three daily flights, and Valencia with five weekly flights. All flights are carried out using (VUZ)’s fleet of A320s.
May 2013: The International Airlines Group (IAG) is looking to acquire the remaining shares in Vueling (VUZ) for €9.25/$11.96 per share and delist the carrier from the Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid, and Valencia stock exchanges.
The (IAG) Group already owns 90.51% of Vueling (VUZ), including a 45.85% stake which is held by its Iberia (IBE) subsidiary, following its successful takeover bid earlier this year.
"The International Airlines Group’s (IAG) subsidiary, Vueling (VUZ) has called a general shareholders’ meeting on June 27, 2013 to approve the delisting of (VUZ)’s shares from the Spanish stock exchanges," the (IAG) said.
Vueling (VUZ) continued to expand its presence in North Africa, this time by launching its first two routes to Algeria. On May 1st and May 2nd, respectively, (VUZ) inaugurated services from its Barcelona (BCN) base to Algiers (ALG) and Oran (ORN), the country’s two largest cities. While both routes are operated with A320s, the Algerian capital is served with four weekly flights and only half the frequencies are available on the second route. Air Algerie (ALG) provides competition in both sectors, which it serves with 12 and two weekly frequencies, respectively.
(VUZ) is introducing mobile applications not just for its customers but for its own staff communications as well.
June 2013: Vueling (VUZ) inaugurated operations in Lebanon last week, as it launched twice-weekly seasonal services on the 3,000 km route from its Barcelona (BCN) base to Beirut (BEY) on June 28. Two days prior to that, (VUZ) also connected the Catalan capital (BCN) with weekly services to the Greek island of Kos (KGS). Both routes are offered on a seasonal basis and operated using A320s.
A319-111 (2843, EC-JVE), (IBE) leased, A320-214 (5673, EC-LVX "Vuelingsgefuhle"), (AWAS) (AWW) leased, and A320-232 (5620, EC-LVV "Vueling for a dream"), leased.
July 2013: Europe’s two biggest Low Cost Carriers (LCC)s, Ryanair (RYR) and easyJet (EZY), have both cut capacity in the Spanish market, and seen their passenger numbers in June fall year-on-year by -10.3% and -15.0%, respectively. In contrast, local (LCC) (and Europe’s fourth biggest) Vueling (VUZ), has seen demand increase by almost +17%. In June, Vueling (VUZ) generated +33% more passenger movements through Spanish airports than Iberia (IBE) and Iberia Express combined.
August 2013: The International Airlines Group (IAG) (BAB)/(IBE) is on track to acquire 97.52% direct and indirect ownership of Vueling (VUZ), falling short of its 100% target. The (IAG) Group (which owns 90.51% of (VUZ) that includes a 45.85% stake held by its (IBE) subsidiary) was looking to acquire the remaining 9.49% stake for €9.25/$11.96 per share to give it full ownership.
However, the (IAG) said in a stock market announcement it had acquired only 73.9% of the outstanding shares. “This represents 7.01% of (VUZ)’s share capital. The offer acceptance level is below 90%, which is lower than the threshold that would have enabled the (IAG) Group to exercise its squeeze-out right. Following settlement of the delisting tender offer, the (IAG) Group will own 97.52% of (VUZ), which will be delisted from the Spanish stock exchanges,” the (IAG) said.
The International Airlines Group (IAG) has begun to reorganize its newly acquired Spanish carrier Vueling (VUZ) by replacing the board and naming current (CEO), Alex Cruz as Chairman. The (IAG) is rolling out its first changes at (VUZ) following (VUZ)’s delisting from the Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid and Valencia stock exchanges.
“The seven independent board members, including the Chairman [Josep Pique], will shortly present their resignation,” the (IAG) stated in a stock market filing.
The former board members will be replaced by a team of as yet unnamed (IAG) executives, who will be more operational and focused on the day-to-day activities of the airline. They will be headed by Cruz, who will take on Pique’s former role as Chairman. Cruz confirmed he will be Vueling (VUZ) Chairman & (CEO) following the revamp.
(IAG) said the new governance structure is “more in line” with Vueling (VUZ)’s status as an unlisted company.
(BAB) and Iberia (IBE) parent, (IAG) is to order up to 220 Airbus A320-family jets, initially for low-cost carrier (LCC) Vueling (VUZ).
The firm part of the order comprises 62 airplanes (including 32 A320neo) plus 58 options.
(IAG) is also taking another 100 A320neo options for (BAB), (IBE) and (VUZ). Vueling (VUZ) (CEO), Alex Cruz, through his social media feed, describes the agreement as "great, great news!"
The International Airlines Group (IAG) (parent to British Airways (BAB), Iberia (IBE) and Vueling (VUZ)) has called on its shareholders to meet September 26 to formally approve orders for 98 Airbus (EDS) and Boeing (TBC) airplanes in an extraordinary general meeting in Madrid.
In a stock market disclosure, the (IAG) said shareholders will be asked to approve the purchase of 18 787s and 18 A350s for British Airways (BAB), plus 30 A320ceos and 32 A320neos for Vueling (VUZ).
Earlier this month, the (IAG) announced plans to acquire up to 220 A320 family airplanes, including the 30 A320ceos and 32 A320neos for (VUZ).
Iberia (IBE) has been omitted from the order plans, although the (IAG) has options for 32 A350-900s and 12 787-9s earmarked for (IBE), pending its restructuring.
September 2013: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) appointed Ulla Siebke as Country Manager for Germany, effective immediately. Siebke is former Sales & Account Manager for (SAS) Scandinavian Airlines.
October 2013: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) begins 3x-weekly, Barcelona - Tenerife service in April.
Vueling (VUZ) began five new routes at the start of the winter season, including four domestic routes in Spain, and a domestic route in Italy. Only two routes will face any sort of competition, ranging from flag carriers to low cost6 carrier (LCC)s. The longest sector is the A Coruña to Gran Canaria route at 1,817 km, while the shortest of the five new routes is also from A Coruña, this time to Bilbao, at just 443 km. As follows:
Alicante (ALC) to Bilbao (BIO) 3x weekly, vs Iberia Regional 7x weekly; A Coruna (LCG) to (BIO) 5x weekly; (LCG) to Gran Canaria 2x weekly; (LCG) to Tenerife Norte, 2x weekly; and Florence (FLR) to Catania (CTA) 8x weekly vs Volotea (VLZ) 3x weekly.
November 2013: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) launched operations on its sixth route from Gran Canaria (LPA) in the Canary Islands on October 30th. (VUZ), which already serves the island airport from five destinations in mainland Spain, now offers Paris Orly (ORY) as its first international destination from Gran Canaria. Twice-weekly frequencies are offered on the 2,800 km route, which is operated using (VUZ)’s fleet of A320s.
December 2013: Vueling (VUZ)’s Barcelona Airport network is to pass 110 destinations next summer; faces competition on over >60 routes.
In the summer of 2009, Ryanair (RYR)’s London Stansted base became the first in Europe to serve more than >100 destinations with non-stop low-cost flights. This summer, that achievement was matched by easyJet (EZY) at London Gatwick (LGW), and Vueling (VUZ) in Barcelona. According to (RYR)’s website, (RYR) currently offers flights to 128 destinations from Stansted, including the 12 new routes it announced recently. However, (VUZ)’s Barcelona base is catching up with (VUZ) recently announcing further additions to its main base, and taking the number of destinations served to 114 next summer. Between summer 2011 and summer 2013, the airline increased its network from Barcelona from 44 destinations to 104.
(VUZ) handled 10.48 million passengers at Barcelona in 2012, up +35% on its 2011 figure, as (VUZ) took advantage of the collapse of Spanair (SPP) in early 2012. In 2011, (SPP) was the second busiest airline in Barcelona with 4.33 million passengers. In 2012, the next biggest carriers at Barcelona were Ryanair (RYR) (5.19 million) and easyJet (EZY) (3.08 million), followed by Iberia (IBE) (just 1.40 million). In the first 10 months of 2013, (VUZ) has carried 10.43 million passengers through the airport, followed by (RYR) (3.67 million) and (EZY) (2.44 million).
So far, (VUZ) has put on sale a further 13 new destinations for summer 2014. These include year-round services to Dakar, Jerez, Paris (CDG), Porto, Leipzig, and Warsaw, as well as seasonal flights (starting in June) to Bastia, Belgrade, Budapest, Donetsk, Kaliningrad, Kharkiv, and Krakow. Dakar, at just under <3,500 kms is beaten only by Banjul (3,590 kms) in terms of sector length. However, three routes served this summer are not currently on-sale for next summer. Pamplona flights ended on September 30th, while services to Strasbourg (ends January 5th 2014) and Lille (ends March 28th 2014) appear to have underperformed. Other destinations that have been tried and found wanting from Barcelona are Ciudad Real, Groningen, Ljubljana, Southampton, Valencia, and Verona.
Closer analysis of available schedule data for next summer reveals that Vueling (VUZ) will face direct competition on 63 of its 114 routes from Barcelona, while having a monopoly on the remaining 51 routes. The most recent impact was on Warsaw and Hamburg, two routes that Norwegian (NWG) has revealed it will start operating next April. The Barcelona - Warsaw route will now be served by (LOT), Norwegian (NWG), Vueling (VUZ) and Wizz Air (WZZ), and joins Bucharest and London Gatwick as the most keenly contested markets served by Vueling (VUZ) from Barcelona.
January 2014: Vueling (VUZ) began flights from Alicante (ALC) to Oran (ORN), the second largest city in Algeria and located on the country’s north-western Mediterranean coast. Started on January 7th, the 295 km sector becomes (VUZ)’s third Spain to Algeria city pair, joining its existing flights between Barcelona and Algiers and Oran which commenced in May last year. Flown twice-weekly (Tuesdays and Saturdays) with (VUZ)’s 180-seat A320s, the service will be in competition with Air Algerie (ALG), which flies the route daily.
February 2014: The International Airlines Group (IAG) swung to a +€147 million/+$201 million net profit in 2013, compared to a -€696 million net loss in 2012, boosted in part by Iberia (IBE)’s ongoing restructuring.
British Airways (BAB) posted a full-year operating profit of +€762 million, while (IBE) stemmed its operating loss at -€166 million. Meanwhile, newly acquired Vueling (VUZ) delivered an operating profit of +€168 million from the date of its acquisition by (IAG) in April 2013. (IAG) (CEO), Willie Walsh described the performance as a “strong financial recovery and return to profitability.”
Over the 12 months ended December 31, 2013, (IAG)’s revenues rose +3.1% to €18.6 billion, while costs fell -1.3% to €18 billion. This delivered a +€527 million operating profit after exceptional items, marking a drastic improvement from the -€613 million operating loss it posted in 2012.
Before exceptional items, the 2013 operating profit stood at +€770 million, up from a -€23 million prior-year loss.
Traffic was up +5.8% at 186.3 billion (RPK)s, off the back of a +5.2% increase in capacity to 230.6 billion (ASK)s, producing a load factor of 80.8% LF, up half a point. Yield remained stable at 8.73 cents, while as (RASK) increased +0.6% to 7.05 cents and (CASK) decreased -6.2% to 7.77 cents. (CASK) ex-fuel was 5.18 cents, down -5.6%.
“Iberia (IBE) has made huge progress on cost control as its restructuring takes shape,” Walsh said. “The recent pay and productivity agreements between (IBE) and its pilot (FC) and cabin crew (CA) unions are key to reducing (IBE)’s costs further and providing the foundation for profitable growth.”
In 2014, the (IAG) is aiming to make “steady progress” toward its +€1.8 billion 2015 group-wide operating profit target. It is forecasting “relatively flat” unit revenue growth, with margins being driven by lower unit costs.
Vueling (VUZ) expanded its international network with a new service from its Barcelona (BCN) base to Dakar (DKR) in Senegal. The 3,497 km sector was inaugurated on February 22nd with weekly flights (Saturdays), utilizing (VUZ)’s 180Y-seat A320s. No other carrier serves this airport pair. The route will be increased to thrice-weekly in April.
March 2014: Vueling (VUZ) is looking to develop a second hub at Rome Fiumicino Airport later this year, (CEO), Alex Cruz said.
Vueling Airlines ((IATA) Code: VY, based at Barcelona El Prat) (VUZ) will wet-lease three A320-200s from Avion Express ((IATA) Code: X9, based at Vilnius) (AVS) from now until the end of October. The A320s will be used to supplement the Spanish Low Cost Carrier (LCC)'s summer operations which, among other highlights, will see the establishment of two new bases in Italy - Rome Fiumicino and Palermo.
(VUZ) operates 74 airplanes and serves 36 countries, 128 destinations, 282 routes and 372 daily flights.
April 2014: Vueling Airlines (VUZ)continues to grow its network across Europe with the launch of five new routes, involving eight airports in five countries. Four of the routes face some kind of competition with the toughest market being that between Brussels (BRU) and Rome Fiumicino (FCO). Here, (VUZ) faces competition from not only both of the national flag-carriers of Belgium and Italy, but also Ryanair (RYR) as follows:
Barcelona (BCN) to Warsaw (WAW) 1,873 km 3x weekly, vs (LOT) 7x, Norwegian (NWG) 3x, and easyJet (EZY) 2x; Brussels (BRU) to Rome (FCO) 1,173 km 7x weekly vs Brussels Airlines (DAT)/(EBA) 25x; Alitalia (ALI) 20x, and (RYR) 14x; Malaga (AGP) to Lyons (LYS) 1,286 km 2x weekly; Seville (SVQ) to Lyon (LYS) 1,286 km, vs transavia.com (TVF) 1x; (SVQ) to Nantes (NTE), 1,138 km, vs (TVF) 1x.
(VUZ) has added three new Italian domestic routes, four new Spanish domestic routes and two new international routes from Barcelona (BCN), to Leipzig/Halle (LEJ) and Porto (OPO). Six of the routes are already served by other carriers, notably Ryanair (RYR) who will compete head-to-head on four of the routes as follows:
(BCN) to Jerez (XRY) 4x for 866 km vs (RYR) 3x; (BCN) to (LEJ) 2x for 1,373 km; (BCN) to (OPO) 4x for 901 km vs (TAP) 19x & (RYR) 11x;
Florence (FLR) to Bari (BRI) 3x for 547 km; (FLR) to Cagliari (CAG) 3x for 538 km; (FLR) to Palermo (PMO), 5x for 645 km, vs Volotea (VLZ) 5X;
Malaga (AGP) to Palma de Mallorca (PMI) 3x for 710 km vs airberlin (BER) 7x & (RYR) 3x;
Seville (SVQ) to Asturias (OVD) 3x for 668 km vs (IBE) 2x; to (PMI) 3x for 789 km, vs (BER) 7x & (RYR) 7x.
May 2014: The International Airlines Group (IAG) showed a marked improvement in its first-quarter figures compared to the year-ago quarter as restructuring at Spanish flag-carrier Iberia (IBE) continues to flow through to the bottom line.
Net losses were reduced to -€184 million/-$253.7 million compared to a loss of -€630 million in the year-ago period. The result was achieved on revenue of €4.20 billion, up +6.7% on last time’s €3.93 billion. The winter period is traditionally the weakest quarter for most European airlines.
Capacity jumped +11.8% to 56.3 billion (ASK)s, while (RPK)s lagged slightly to 43.2 billion, up +10.9%. Load factor was down -0.7 point to 76.7% LF.
“Iberia (IBE) has almost halved its losses from the first quarter last year with an operating loss of -€111 million compared to -€202 million,” (IAG) (CEO), Willie Walsh said. “(IBE) continues to benefit from restructuring and these figures don’t reflect the impact of recent pay and productivity agreements, which took effect in April. While the restructuring remains a work in progress, (IBE) is gradually resuming some routes, including long-haul services to Santo Domingo and Montevideo,” he said.
British Airways (BAB) reported an operating loss of -€5 million in the quarter, compared to a -€72 million operating loss in the 2013 first quarter. (BAB) has increased capacity within a controlled cost environment and benefited from the efficiency of its new Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 airplanes.
Vueling (VUZ) posted an operating loss of -€30 million and has managed to keep its losses flat, while growing capacity. (VUZ) continues to grow, with its main focus in southern Europe.
Cargo revenue for the quarter decreased -7.4%, with yields down -3.8% on a constant currency basis. Cargo demand and yields remained weak due to overall excess capacity in the market.
Other revenue dipped -10.5% from the elimination of Iberia (IBE)’s handling and maintenance revenue related to Vueling (VUZ), which was included in the comparative period.
Walsh said the (IAG) was pleased at the “significant” reduction in quarterly operating loss from -€278 million a year ago to -€150 million this time, “especially as Vueling (VUZ)’s quarterly losses were not included last year as they weren’t in the Group.” At constant currency, revenue was up +7.6% and non-fuel costs rose +4.8%.
A combination of the addition of low-cost carrier (LCC) (VUZ) to the Group, (IBE)’s restructuring and British Airways (BAB)'s growth led to a drop in employee unit costs of 11.7%. Average number of employees increased +0.6% compared to the same period last year, while productivity improved +11.2%.
Fuel unit costs decreased -8.9%, driven by a mix of lower average fuel prices net of hedging and consumption efficiencies achieved through the introduction of new airplanes.
Walsh held out the prospect of substantially better full-year results: “We expect to improve operating profit for the 2014 full year by at least €500 million, from a 2013 base of €770 million. Unit revenues should remain relatively flat, with margin expansion driven by a reduction in unit costs.”
Vueling (VUZ) has launched its second route into France’s city of Marseille (MRS), starting twice-weekly (Tuesdays and Saturdays) flights from Palma de Mallorca (PMI) alongside its present Barcelona operation. The A320-operated new route, started on April 26, will be its 14th from the Balearic Island, and will see (VUZ) take on Ryanair (RYR) head-to-head. (RYR) currently offers a similar frequency on the city pair.
Vueling (VUZ) further expanded its presence at Brussels (BRU) with the addition of six new services, all of which are operated by its 180Y-seat A320s. With the longest route being the 1,719 km sector to Lisbon (LIS) launched on May 1st and operated six times weekly, as well as the shortest being inaugurated to Venice (VCE) on May 1st at 837 kms and served five times weekly, (VUZ) will face competition on five of the new routes.
Vueling (VUZ) has converted five of its 62 Airbus A320 orders to A321s, trimming its A320 commitment to 57 airplanes.
June 2014: Vueling (VUZ) launched 24 predominantly seasonal services across eight of its bases, with its Alicante (ALC), Asturias (OVD), Barcelona (BCN), Florence (FLR), Ibiza (IBZ), Malaga (AGP), Paris Orly (ORY) and Rome Fiumicino (FCO) operations all benefitting. Only one-third of the routes face any direct competition and 16 of the 24 new routes start with two weekly flights or fewer. The 24 city pairs link airports in 11 countries:
Alicante (ALC) to Menorca (MAH), and to Santander (SDR) A320, 2x weekly;
Asturias (OVD) to Ibiza (IBZ), vs Volotea (VLS) 2x, and to Palma de Mallorca (PMI), vs Iberia (IBE), (VLS), & Air Europa (ARE), A320 3x;
Barcelona (BCN) to Bastia (BIA), 2x, to Belgrade (BEG) 3x, to Krakow (KRK) 3x, to La Palma (SPC), 1x, to Tallinn (TLL), 2x, to Tunis (TUN), vs TunisAir (TUI), 5x;
Florence (FLR) to (IBZ), to Mykonos (JMK), to Santorini (JTR), A319 2x
(IBZ) to Lisbon (LIS), to Zurich (ZRH), vs Air Berlin (BER), 7x, A320
Malaga (AGP) to Lanzarote (ACE), A320 2x, vs (ARE) 1x;
Paris Orly (ORY) to Bologna (BLQ), A320, 6x, to (MAH), A320, 3x;
Rome Fiumicino (FCO) to (BIA) A320 2x, to Heraklion (HER) VS easyjet (EJT) 3x, Meridiana (ALS) 1x, to Rhodes (RHO), vs (EZY) 3x, Alitalia (ALI) 2x, to Santiago de Compestela (SCQ), to Zadar (ZAD) A320 1x, to Zakinthos (ZTH) vs Blue Paborama Airlines (BPA) 1x.
2 A320-232 (6123, EC-MBS; 6128, EC-MBT), A320-233 (0747, LY-VEM), ex-(EI-FBB) Avion Express leased.
July 2014: Vueling (VUZ) marked its first decade of operations this month, as the Spanish carrier’s first flight took off on July 1st 2004. Since then, it has developed a major network from its main hub in Barcelona, merged with fellow Spanish clickair in 2009, and grown rapidly in recent years to now operate a fleet of 90 A320s. Now part of the (IAG) group along with British Airways (BAB) and Iberia (IBE), (VUZ) transports more passengers from Spanish airports than any other airline bar Ryanair (RYR).
Although currently ranked fourth among European low cost carriers (LCC)s in terms of annual passengers (17.1 million in 2013) behind Ryanair (RYR), easyJet (EZY) and Norwegian (NWG), Vueling (VUZ)’s base in Barcelona offers more non-stop destinations than at any other (LCC) base except for (RY)’s London Stansted base. With 121 destinations on offer from Barcelona, it ranks among Europe’s 10 best connected airline hubs. Just five years ago, before the merger with clickair, (VUZ) connected to only 18 destinations from Barcelona.
SEE ATTACHED - - "VUZ-EUROPE MOST HUBS-2014-08."
(VUZ) has 50 of its 90 airplanes based this summer in Barcelona. The next biggest bases in terms of aircraft are Malaga and Rome Fiumicino, which will be home to five airplanes each this summer. (VUZ) has 10 single airplane bases; five in Spain, four in Italy and one in Amsterdam.
Since last August, (VUZ)’s network has grown by almost +50% from 195 routes to 287, with the number of flights up by +32%. While Barcelona is clearly (VUZ)’s busiest airport, Rome Fiumicino has rapidly grown to become (VUZ)’s second biggest base. Other non-Spanish airports (shown in bright green) with significant operations include Amsterdam, Brussels, Catania, Florence, and Paris Orly.
Among European (LCC)s, Vueling (VUZ) has dropped a relatively small proportion of the routes it has ever started. It appears that there are just 11 routes that (VUZ) has dropped from Barcelona in 10 years; Amman, Ciudad Real, Groningen, Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen, Ljubljana, Pamplona, Southampton, Strasbourg, Tarbes/Lourdes, Valencia, and Verona. These 11 routes represent less than <10% of all the routes launched by (VUZ) from Barcelona.
In contrast (RYR) has, at one time or other, served around 170 destinations from London Stansted but currently serves just 126, indicating a route churn rate of over >25%. At London Gatwick, easyJet (EZY) has dropped just over >10% of all the routes started from the airport.
Since September 2010, Vueling (VUZ) has been competing head-to-head with (RYR) from its home base in Barcelona. That was when (RYR) decided to open a base at the airport. This summer, of the 39 routes served by (RYR) from Barcelona’s main airport, 23 compete directly with (VUZ). However, (VUZ)’s decision to expand its operations considerably at Brussels’ main airport and at Rome Fiumicino resulted in (RYR) (which has bases at Brussels Charleroi and Rome Ciampino) taking the unusual step of responding by announcing bases at the bigger airports. As a result, the two carriers are now competing head-to-head on a number of routes from these two airports.
On all but one route (Brussels - Valencia), (RYR) and (VUZ) are competing against other carriers (such as Alitalia (ALI) and Brussels Airlines (DAT)/(EBA)) for passengers. It will be interesting to see the level of route overlap from these airports next summer, as history suggests that this level of intense (LCC) competition is unsustainable in the longer-term. For now though, the residents of Brussels and Rome would be well advised to make the most of some great value fares to the destinations listed above.
Vueling (VUZ) launched 13 predominantly seasonal services across four of its bases, with its Barcelona (BCN), Paris Orly (ORY), Rome Fiumicino (FCO) and Seville (SVQ) operations all benefitting, along with Rennes. Over three-quarters of its new routes will have competition. The 13 city pairs link airports in 10 countries.
(BCN) to Cluj-Napoca (CLJ), 2x weekly, vs Wizz Air 4x; to Geneva (GVA) 1x, vs easyJet (EZY) 20x, SWISS (CSR) 14x; to Larnaca (LCA) 2x, vs Cyprus Airways (CYP) 1x;
Paris Orly (ORY) to Catania (CTA) 3x, vs transavia.com France (TVF) 2x; to Palermo (PMO) 3x, vs (EZY) 4x, (TVF) 4x;
Rennes (RNS) to Bastia (BIA) 1x;
Rome Fiumicino (FCO) to Amsterdam (AMS) 6x, vs (KLM) 35x, Alitalia (ALI) 21x, (EZY) 8x; TO Bari (BRI) 13x, vs (ALI) 46x; to Corfu (CFU) 2x, vs (EZY) 5x, Blue Panorama Airlines (BPA) 2x; to Lemezia Terme (SUF) 6x, vs (ALI) 49x, Ryanair (RYR) 14x; to Malta (MLA) 3x, vs Air Malta 10x, (ALI) 7X, (EZY) 5x; to Zagreb (ZAG) 2x;
Seville (SVQ) to (MLA) 1x.
Vueling (VUZ) has begun two new seasonal Spanish routes from Catania (CTA), by offering weekly flights (Tuesdays) to Ibiza (IBZ) and weekly flights (Wednesdays) to Palma de Mallorca (PMI). The former route started on July 22nd and the latter on July 23rd. Both routes will be flown by (VUZ)'s 180Y-seat A320s and will experience no competition on the respective airport pairs.
The International Airlines Group (IAG), parent company of Iberia (IBE) and British Airways (BAB), has converted 20 A320neo options into firm orders, it was announced at the Farnborough Airshow.
According to (IAG), they will replace 21 short-haul British Airways (BAB)’s A320 airplanes. (BAB) operates 120 Airbus single-aisle airplanes. In August 2013, (IAG) announced that, as part of a Vueling (VUZ) order for up to 120 Airbus A320 family airplanes, it had also secured 100 A320neo options.
According to Airbus, it has received more than >2,800 orders for the neo.
A320-214 (3907, EC-MCU), ex-(EI-ERX), AerCap (DEA) leased.
August 2014: A320-233 (0558, LY-VEO), ex-(F-ORAD), sub-leased from Avion Express (AVS).
See video "VISIT MALLORCA" - -
November 2014: The International Airlines Group (IAG) reported a net profit of +€598 million/+$749 million for the quarter ended September 30, up +3.1% from +€580 million in the year-ago period.
Operating profit for the third quarter was up +18% to +€818 million and revenue was up +8.5% to +€5.9 billion.
The (IAG) attributed the improved performance largely to an increase in passenger revenue and a reduction in unit costs, especially at Spanish subsidiary, Iberia (IBE).
(IAG) (CEO), Willie Walsh said: “At constant currency, revenue was up +6.9% with non-fuel unit costs down -4.5% and fuel unit costs down -7.5%. We continued to grow capacity efficiently and both our non-fuel and fuel unit cost performances were strong, with the latter boosted by the introduction of new, more efficient airplanes into our fleet.”
According to Walsh, “British Airways (BAB) made an operating profit of +€607 million, compared to +€477 million last year, and grew capacity, while retaining its focus on cost control. Iberia (IBE)’s operating profit increased to +€162 million from +€74 million last year, highlighting its strong cost discipline combined with the continued benefits of restructuring.”
He said that Barcelona-based, low-cost carrier (LCC) subsidiary, Vueling (VUZ), which became part of the (IAG) last year, “continued to grow, developing new bases in Italy and Belgium, with an operating profit of +€140 million compared to +€139 million last year.”
Passenger numbers for the quarter were up +9.9% to 23.4 million year-on-year, while (ASK)s grew +9% to 69.3 billion, and (RPK)s increased +8.1% to 58.2 billion. Seat load factor was down -0.8% points to 83.9% LF from 84.7% LF year-on-year. Operating costs were also up +5.3% on last year to just over >€5 billion.
For the first nine months of the year, (IAG) net profit was up to +€694 million from +€77 million in the same period last year, with operating profit up to just over >€1 billion from +€348 million in the year-ago period.
Revenue for the nine months was up +7.4% to €15.2 billion, and operating costs were up +4.2% to €14.1 billion.
Passenger numbers were up +16.8% to 59 million for the nine-month period, with (ASK)s increasing +10.5% to 190.2 billion, and (RPK)s up +9.5% to 153.5 billion. Seat factor was down -0.7% points to 80.7% LF.
In terms of the trading outlook, Walsh said: “For the full year 2014, we expect to produce an improvement in operating profit before exceptional items in the range of +€550 million to +€600 million, from a base of +€770 million in 2013.”
December 2014: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) begins 3x-weekly, Budapest - Rome service in summer 2015 and Budapest - Barcelona on March 27, 2015.
January 2015: News Item A-1: Qatar Airways (QTA) has acquired a 9.99% stake in British Airways (BAB)/Iberia (IBE)/Vueling (VUZ) parent company, the International Airlines Group (IAG).
(QTA) said the move was “part of efforts to enhance operations and strengthen existing commercial ties initiated through code share agreements with the (IAG) as well as its membership of the Oneworld (ONW) Alliance.”
Qatar Airways (QTA) (CEO) Akbar Al Baker said: “The (IAG) represents an excellent opportunity to further develop our Westward strategy. Having joined the Oneworld (ONW) Alliance, it makes sense for us to work more closely together in the near term, and we look forward to forging a long-term relationship.”
The (IAG) concurred it already had a close relationship with (QTA) through the (ONW) Alliance and welcomed (QTA)’s commitment to strengthening existing commercial ties.
(IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh said the company will “talk to them about what opportunities exist to work more closely together and further (IAG)’s ambitions as the leading global airline group.”
As a non-European Union (EU) shareholder, (QTA) is subject to an overall cap on ownership in the (IAG) as a result of the requirement for (EU) airlines to be majority owned by (EU) shareholders. However, (QTA) said it “may consider increasing its stake further over time, although this is not currently intended to exceed >9.99%.”
News Item A-2: Qatar Airlines (QTA) & the (IAG): "Shifting sands in the global reach of the Gulf carriers" January 30, 2015 by Karen Walker in (ATW) Editor's Blog:
The announcement that Qatar Airways (QTA) has acquired a 9.99% stake in (BAB)/(IBE)/VUZ) parent company, the International Airlines Group (IAG) is an interesting development in the ongoing change in the international airline landscape prompted by the growth of the Gulf carriers.
(QTA) (CEO) Akbar Al Baker describes the taking of a stake in the (IAG), worth about $1.7 billion, as an “excellent opportunity to further develop our Westward strategy.” (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh said he was “delighted” about the investment, and opportunities to work more closely with (QTA).
There’s an interesting history to the (IAG) and (QTA) connection. Al Baker and Walsh are long-time, firm friends who each hold the other in high respect. In October 2013, (QTA) joined the Oneworld (ONW) global alliance, becoming the first of the major Gulf carriers to join a global alliance. British Airways (BAB), a founding (ONW) member, was (QTA)’s sponsor and Walsh spoke very enthusiastically about the importance of having (QTA) join. My understanding is that his enthusiasm was not matched by every (ONW) member (CEO).
Dubai-based Emirates (EAD), meanwhile, remains alliance-independent, but in 2013 it entered a five-year alliance with Qantas (QAN), another Oneworld (ONW) Alliance founding member. And Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways (EHD) owns a 29% stake in airberlin (BER), another (ONW) airline. (EHD) has its own version of an alliance, taking stakes in relatively small carriers and creating a constellation of airline equity partners that includes airberlin (BER), Air Serbia (JAT), India’s Jet Airways (JPL), Virgin Australia (VOZ), Air Seychelles (ASY) and Aer Lingus (ARL). Interestingly, the (IAG) wants to buy Aer Lingus (ARL), a move, which if it happens, would further tangle the (IAG)-Oneworld (ONW)-Gulf carrier web.
(EHD), of course, is also now a 49% owner of Alitalia (ALI) (to keep you on track with the alliance matings here, (ALI) is a SkyTeam (STM) Alliance member). But (QTA)’s stake in the (IAG) is the first time that one of the “Big Three” Gulf carriers has invested in one of the “Big Three” European airline groups of the (IAG), the Lufthansa Group and Air France (AFA) - (KLM).
It will be fascinating to see if the (QTA) - (IAG) deal marks the beginning of more such equity partnerships (within the caps of the (EU) airline ownership rules) between Gulf carriers and their European counterparts. The fact is that it’s becoming increasingly challenging for the “traditional” global hubs of Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Heathrow, and Paris to compete with the “modern” world hubs of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Qatar.
In the USA, meanwhile, there is growing awareness that what happened in Europe regards Gulf competition could happen in America. A campaign is being run by North America’s “Big Three” (American Airlines (AAL), Delta Air Lines (DAL) and United Airlines (UAL)) to try and get lawmakers to review "Open Skies" policies and the international air transport competitive landscape to take account of the rise of the Gulf carriers.
Flying under the radar so far in the shifting sands of air transport power houses, is Turkish Airlines (THY), which is a Star (SAL) Alliance carrier and which has developed an extensive network, very large and modern fleet and highly successful global hub in Istanbul. It will be interesting to see whether that continues to be the case if, as Al Baker described it, a “Westward strategy” by Gulf carriers begins, in some eyes at least, to look more like a "Westward" invasion.
News Item A-3: On January 26th, an improved offer from British Airways (BAB), Iberia (IBE), and Vueling (VUZ) parent, the International Airlines Group (IAG) to acquire Aer Lingus (ARL) has a much likely chance of acceptance, as follows:
The (IAG) revealed more details of its "Aer Lingus (ARL) plan."
Aer Lingus (ARL) would keep its brand and rejoin the Oneworld (ONW) Alliance if the International Airlines Group (IAG) succeeded in acquiring (ARL).
News of the tentative plans came as (ARL)’s board signaled it is now happy with the (IAG)’s latest bid proposal of €2.55/$2.86 per share. This is significant, because the (IAG) would only be willing to proceed, once this endorsement is in place.
“The [Aer Lingus (ARL)] board has indicated to the (IAG) that the financial terms are at a level at which it would be willing to recommend [to shareholders], subject to being satisfied with the manner in which the (IAG) proposes to address the interests of relevant parties,” (ARL) said in a stock market disclosure.
With the approval now secured, (ARL) said it has granted the (IAG) access to perform “a limited period of confirmatory due diligence.”
The (IAG) said Aer Lingus (ARL) would operate as a separate business within the (IAG) group, with its own brand, management and operations. It will also continue to provide direct Irish flights and connectivity, supporting local investment and tourism. The (IAG) hopes to secure Irish government support for the deal.
Under its new ownership, Aer Lingus (ARL) would also rejoin the Oneworld (ONW) Alliance, which it left on March 31, 2007, and become a part of the (IAG)’s transatlantic joint venture (JV) with American Airlines (AAL).
The (IAG) plans to tap “natural traffic flows between Ireland and the USA” and Dublin’s strength as a connecting hub. This makes sense, as Dublin has a well-established USA immigration pre-clearance facility.
“The (IAG) believes that the proposal would secure and strengthen Aer Lingus (ARL)'s brand and long term future within a successful and profitable European airline group, offering significant benefits to both (ARL) and its customers,” the (IAG) said in its own disclosure. The plan was “noted” by the Aer Lingus (ARL) board.
British Airways (BAB), Iberia (IBE) & Vueling (VUZ) parent, the (IAG) made an initial €2.30 per share takeover approach on December 16, but the Aer Lingus (ARL) board said this undervalued (ARL). On December 29th, it increased its proposal to €2.40 per share, which was again rejected. This latest bid of €2.55 per share was announced on January 26.
The €2.55 per share proposal remains subject to Ryanair (RYR) and the Minister for Finance of Ireland accepting the offer and due diligence.
News Item A-4: Vueling (VUZ)’s fleet is set to exceed 100 in 2015 after taking delivery of its 1st direct-purchased Airbus A320 family airplane.
(VUZ) has 57 A320s and 5 A321s on order, plus options for an additional 58, forming part of a wider order for 220 A320 family airplanes placed by its parent the International Airlines Group (IAG) in August 2013.
(VUZ) received (EC-MDZ) on December 19, followed in quick succession by (EC-MEA) on December 29. Another 12 are slated for delivery in 2015, taking (VUZ)’s fleet (which has historically been all-leased) to >100 airplanes.
(VUZ) launched in 2004 with 2 Airbus A320s, serving 3 cities. A decade on, its network comprises 22 bases and 145 destinations in Europe, the Near East, and Africa. (VUZ) now carries 75 million passengers annually.
February 2015: News Item A-1: Iberia (IBE) Maintenance has completed the overhaul and bench testing of its 1st (V2500). The engine belongs to Vueling (VUZ), and another 7 (V2500)s are undergoing inspection and repair in (IBE)’s facilities.
March 2015: News Item A-1: The International Airlines Group (IAG) (parent company of British Airways (BAB), Iberia (IBE), and Vueling (VUZ)) has reported a 1st-quarter net loss of -€26 million/-$29.1 million, narrowed from a -€184 million loss for the year-ago period. Operating profit was +€25 million, reversed from a loss of -€150 million a year ago, giving the Group its 1st-ever operating profit in the traditionally weak months after Christmas and New Year.
Separating out the 3 carriers’ individual operating profit figures, (BAB) posted a profit of +€117 million compared to a -€5 million loss last time; (IBE) lost -€55 million, half of (1Q) 2014’s figure of -€111 million; while (VUZ)’s loss was -€29 million, barely changed from the -€30 million loss a year ago.
Group revenue was up +12% at slightly over €4.7 billion, compared to €4.2 billion a year ago, while costs climbed +7.6% to €4.68 billion, up from €4.35 billion.
Passenger revenue jumped +12.3% to €4.11 billion. Cargo revenue dipped -1.6% to €246 million. Other revenue sources saw a +19.4% rise to €345 million.
Capacity grew +5% to 59.1 billion (ASK)s, but this was outstripped by (RPK)s, which rose +6.2% to 45.9 billion in the 1st quarter. Load factor rose +1% to 77.7% LF.
“There was a strong improvement both at a Group level and with all 3 airlines,” (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh said.
“At constant currency, revenue was up +3.7%, with passenger unit revenue down -0.8%. In particular, there was a consistent positive performance in our key North American market. “We achieved a strong unit cost performance with non-fuel unit costs down -2.7% and fuel unit costs down -11%, at constant currency. As before, fuel costs benefitted by operating more efficient airplanes and lower fuel prices though hedging and significant currency headwinds reduced the positive impact of lower oil prices.
“Cost discipline across our airlines continued through increased productivity and supplier cost savings, enabling us to improve our operating margin while growing capacity by +5%.”
The improvement in the group’s performance (for several years, (BAB)’s profits were negated by heavy losses at Iberia (IBE)) has made it a much more attractive proposition for investors. This was evidenced by Qatar Airways (QTA) taking of a 9.99% stake late last year. (QTA) carrier has said it would like to increase its stake in the future.
The UK-Spanish group said that it anticipates a whole-year operating profit “in excess of >+€2.2 billion,” although it cautioned that profit growth would slow in the 2nd quarter due the combination of the timing of Easter this year (always a busy time for carrying leisure passengers) and an adverse year-on-year fuel price in this quarter (net of fuel and currency hedging).
News Item A-2: The International Airlines Group (IAG) (parent company of British Airways (BAB), Iberia (IBE) and Vueling (VUZ) reported a 2014 net profit of >€1 billion/+$1.1 billion for the year ended December 31, 2014, compared to +€151 million for the previous year. The profit was achieved on revenue of €20.2 billion, up +8% on the previous year.
Capacity in (ASK)s rose +9.3%, with load factor dipping -0.4% to 80.4% (LF.
The increase in capacity extended across all regions, reflecting the full-year impact of low-cost carrier (LCC) Vueling (VUZ), the restoration of routes as part of Iberia (IBE)’s "Plan de Futuro," and changes to the (BAB) network, including up-gauging related to new fleet and additional flying from more efficient replacement airplanes.
The profit figures show that Iberia (IBE) is no longer dragging down the group’s figures. Until a couple of years ago, (BAB)’s profits were largely, or completely, canceled out by losses at (IBE), the Spanish flag-carrier. However, following a painful restructuring, (IBE) has seemingly turned the corner.
“(IBE) made an operating profit of +€50 million compared to an operating loss of -€166 million last year,” (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh said. “(IBE)’s turnaround has been remarkable, both financially and operationally, and we’re very proud of its achievement, especially its strong cost discipline. In 2013, we said our intention was for (IBE) to break even in 2014 and it has fulfilled that promise.
“(BAB)’s operating profit increased to +€1,215 million, up from +€762 million last year, which shows significant progress towards its long term targets. Vueling (VUZ) made an operating profit of +€141 million, compared to an operating profit of +€139 million in 2013, with the airline focusing on flexible growth.
“We achieved a strong unit cost performance, down -4.1%, through increased productivity, supplier cost savings and lower fuel unit costs. The latter was boosted by the introduction of more efficient airplanes into our fleet and lower fuel prices in the last quarter of the year. “However, the positive effect of the oil price reduction has been partly offset by hedging and significant currency impact,” Walsh said.
News Item A-3: Spanish budget carrier, Vueling (VUZ) and Brussels Airlines (DAT)/(EBA) will launch flights to Saint Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport in the (IATA) 2015 summer season, despite Russia’s international traffic decrease.
According to a Pulkovo Airport statement, (VUZ) plans to start Malaga - Saint Petersburg Airbus A320 weekly services in May; services are expected to increase to 2x-weekly in June. (VUZ) currently operates flights to Saint Petersburg from Barcelona and Alicante.
Brussels Airlines (DAT)/(EBA) plans to launch weekly, Brussels - Saint Petersburg Airbus A319 services on March 30.
Russia’s Transaero (TRX) will launch flights to Shanghai; China Southern Airlines (GUN) plans to launch Urumqi flights and Ukrainian International Airlines (UKR) is expected to start flying from Odessa.
Aeroflot Group member Rossiya Airlines (SDM) will launch daily Saint Petersburg - Chisinau Antonov An-148 service, while Air Astana (AKZ) adds flights from Almaty and Astana. (SDM) will also operate 4x-weekly A320 service to Almaty and 3x-weekly services to Astana. Rossiya (SDM) is expected to increase the frequencies at these destinations.
The airlines are increasing the number of flights despite the international traffic decrease, which is due to the change of currency exchange rates. Local airlines are also increasing the number of domestic destinations and flights. In February, Russia’s regional carrier RusLine Airline resumed regional flights from Saint Petersburg to Belgorod, Ivanovo, Kirov and Yaroslavl. Red Wings Airlines (RWZ) is expected to start flights from Saint Petersburg to Grozny, Simferopol, and Makhachkala.
News Item A-4: Vueling (VUZ) took delivery of its 1st 186-seat A320 using Airbus (EDS)’ Space-Flex cabin module.
News Item A-5: Vueling (VUZ), continued to expand rapidly with 5 new links launched from Barcelona (BCN) and Rome Fiumicino (FCO), all of which are operated by its 180-seat A320s. In terms of competition, the 1,247 km sector to Bilbao (BIO) is served by Alitalia’s 2x-weekly departures. In addition, (VUZ) will face competition on the service to Gran Canaria (LPA), from Meridiana’s weekly departures.
Routes as follows:
Barcelona (BCN) to Belfast City (BHD) 2x-; to Brindisi (BDS) 2x-;
Rome Fiumicino (FCO) to Bilbao (BIO) 3x- vs Alitalia 2x-; to Santiago de Compostela (SCQ) 2x-; to Gran Canaria (LPA) 1x vs Meridiana 1x-.
May 2015: News Item A-1: The International Airlines Group (IAG) will make a €1.4 billion/$1.5 billion formal takeover bid for Aer Lingus (ARL), after winning crucial backing from the government of Ireland and (ARL)’s board.
The (IAG) has been courting (ARL) since last December, culminating in a third takeover proposal of €2.55/$2.78 per share in January. Unlike the two earlier approaches, this received a favorable response from (ARL), but was conditional on the (IAG) securing support from (ARL)’s 2 key shareholders: the government of Ireland and (RYR).
Late May 26th, the (IAG) announced it had agreed “the terms of a recommended cash offer” with both the Irish government and (ARL) by signing a transaction agreement which “contains certain assurances” for the future of (ARL).
The (IAG) has given “cast-iron guarantees” on (ARL)’s London Heathrow (LHR) slots, protected by a single "B" share which will be held by the Irish government. Aer Lingus (ARL) will maintain its current seasonal frequencies to Dublin, Cork, and Shannon for at least 7 years and its other Heathrow - Ireland links for at least 5 years. (ARL) will now convene an (AGM) to approve the connectivity resolutions.
“The independent (ARL) Directors intend unanimously to recommend that (ARL) shareholders accept the offer,” the (IAG) said. “The government of Ireland has stated that it supports the offer and the Minister for Finance of Ireland has confirmed that the general principles of the disposal of his shares in (ARL) will be laid before Dáil Éireann [the lower house of the Irish Parliament] for approval.”
Just a few hours earlier, (RYR) said it was waiting on a formal approach from the (IAG), adding that it would consider any deal on its merits. The offer document will be sent to shareholders within 28 days. To succeed, the offer must be backed by at least 90% of (ARL) shareholders, which means that Ryanair (RYR)’s buy-in will be pivotal. It will also require competition clearance from the European Commission (EC).
Both (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh and (ARL) Chairman Colm Barrington described the deal as “compelling,” adding that it will provide stronger transatlantic and regional connectivity for both (ARL) and the (IAG). “The company [(ARL)] will reap the commercial and strategic benefits of being part of the much larger and globally diverse (IAG) Group,” Barrington said.
Willie Walsh confirmed the "Aer Lingus" brand and its Irish head office will be retained. The (IAG) plans to develop Dublin as a transatlantic hub and Aer Lingus (ARL) will re-join the oneworld (ONW) alliance under its new ownership.
“(ARL) would add a 4th competitive, cost effective airline to the (IAG), enabling us to develop our network using Dublin as a hub between the UK, continental Europe and North America, generating additional financial value for our shareholders,” Walsh said.
The offer for 100% of (ARL) will be made by (AERL) Holding, a wholly owned (IAG) subsidiary, which has been created for the takeover. The directors of (AERL) Holding are Walsh, (IAG) (CFO), Enrique Dupuy and (IAG) General Counsel Chris Haynes. (AERL) Holding plans to delist (ARL) from the Irish and London stock exchanges and re-register it as a private company.
The (IAG) operates a combined fleet of 459 airplanes, handling >77 million passengers and 897,000 tonnes of cargo across its 3 carriers, British Airways (BAB), Iberia (IBE) and Vueling (VUZ). (IBE) will add a fleet of 48 Airbus airplanes and 3 757s to the group. Together with its regional franchise operation, (ARL) carried >11.1 million passengers in 2014, generating a €1.6 billion turnover.
News Item A-2: On May 23, Vueling (VUZ) launched the latest route from its Barcelona (BCN) hub with new services to Birmingham (BHX). The 1,237 km sector will initially be flown 3x-weekly with A320s, increasing to 5x-weekly during the peak summer period. Commenting on the route launch, Birmingham Airport’s Aviation Development Director William Pearson said: “(VUZ) will add >27,000 seats to Barcelona from Birmingham, and give passengers a choice of >140 destinations to connect to, on (VUZ)’s network across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.” (VUZ) will face direct competition on the route from Ryanair (RYR), who operate 6x-weekly service, and Monarch (MON), who operate 5x-weekly service. From June 1st, Norwegian (NWG) will become the 4th carrier on the route, commencing new 2x-weekly service on the city pair.
2 A320-232s (6594, EC-MFN "IN VUELING WE TRUST;" 6607, EC-MGE "#BUENVUELING"), (AWAS) (AWW) LSD 2015-05, EX-(F-WWDT & D-AVVS).
June 2015: Vueling (VUZ) commenced 35 new routes over the past 2 weeks, operating 69 new weekly flights from 7 base airports to 34 other airports across Europe. Bases in France, Italy and Spain saw the start of flights to airports in Ghana, Italy, Greece, Tunisia, Portugal, Russia, UK, Morocco, Cape Verde, Croatia, Spain, Switzerland, Romania, Cyprus, Iceland, and Germany. Of the 35 routes, 11 were begun with a minimal weekly frequency, and just 11 city pairs will see (VUZ) face direct competition, the most significant being the 3 airlines already operating on the Rome Fiumicino (FCO) to the Bucharest (OTP) sector.
July 2015: News Item A-1: The International Airlines Group (IAG), parent of British Airways (BAB), Iberia (IBE), and Vueling (VUZ), reported a net profit of +€358 million/+$397 million for the 2nd quarter ended June 30, up +27.9% on the same period last year.
Revenue for the period was up +11.2% to £5.7 billion, while operating costs were up 8.9% to £5.1 billion, resulting in an operating profit of +€530 million, up +39.5% on the year-ago quarter.
For the 2nd quarter, (BAB) improved its operating profit to +€453 million, up +36% year-on-year; (IBE) more than tripled its operating profit to +€51 million; (VUZ)’s operating profit declined -20% to €24 million year-on-year due to a +13.9% capacity increase.
The group’s 2nd-quarter passenger numbers were up +8.7% year-on-year to 22 million, with seat factor stable at 80.7% LF. (ASK)s and (RPK)s both increased +5.5%, to 68.1 billion and 55 billion, respectively.
“We said previously that profit improvement would be slower in the 2nd quarter and we are on track to reach our full year targets,” (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh said. “We continue to take cost out of the business, with both employee and supplier unit costs down at constant currency, and improvements in productivity levels. In the half year, we made an operating profit of +€555 million, which is up from a +€230 million operating profit last year.”
Looking forward, the (IAG) said, “At current fuel prices and exchange rates our outlook remains unchanged. The (IAG) expects in 2015 to generate an operating profit >+€2.2 billion.”
News Item A-2: Avolon (AZV) delivered an A321-200 to Vueling Airlines (VUZ), its 1st aircraft on lease to (VUZ).
August 2015: News Item A-1: Vueling (VUZ) has added 2 new connections to its existing 8 domestic services, which operate from Tenerife North (TFN), including its 1st international service to its Paris Orly (ORY) hub. The weekly (Sundays) flights from the French capital will face no direct competition on the 2,758 km airport pair, however easyJet (EZY) offers 2x-weekly (Tuesdays and Saturdays) services between Paris (CDG) and Tenerife South, while Iberia (IBE) operates a weekly (Saturdays) route from Tenerife South to Paris Orly. No airline flies the last combination of the 4 potential airport pairs (Tenerife North to Paris (CDG)). In addition, (VUZ) began 2x-weekly (Mondays and Fridays) operations from Santiago de Compostela (SCQ) to the smaller of Tenerife’s 2 commercial airports. This 1,753 km sector faces direct competition from Iberia (IBE), which currently flies 9x-weekly on the route. Both services are operated by the (IAG)-owned airline’s 180Y-seat A320s and commenced on August 9 and August 7, respectively.
News Item A-2: Vueling (VUZ) is to open a Paris (CDG) base from (2Q) 2016.
News Item A-3: The International Airlines Group (IAG) (parent of British Airways (BAB), Iberia (IBE), and Vueling (VUZ)) has converted options for 20 A320neos into firm orders.
The A320neos will be delivered between 2020 and 2021 and can be used by any airline in the group for fleet replacement. The options were originally placed in August 2013.
The (IAG) has also confirmed that it is converting 8 A350-900 and 3 A330-200 long-haul aircraft options into firm orders for (IBE). These aircraft will be delivered between 2016 and 2021 and will enable (IBE) to replace and expand its existing long-haul fleet.
The A320neo list price, as at January 2012, was approximately $92 million; the A330-200, $185 million; and the A350-900, $285 million, but the (IAG) said it had negotiated “a substantial discount from the list price.” It said it had “a range of financing options and will choose the most appropriate source closer to the delivery time.” The (IAG) expects, in the long term, that its assets will have at least a 12% return on invested capital.
News Item A-4: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) currently operates 104 aircraft to 41 countries to 157 destinations, on 402 routes and 670 daily flights.
September 2015: News Item A-1: "Vueling will Hire up to 200 Pilots as Market Demand Grows" by (ATW) Kurt Hofmann, September 11, 2015.
Vueling (VUZ) has announced plans to hire as many as 200 first officers (FC) to meet market growth demand in the 2016 summer season.
“We want to continue to provide professional opportunities to more pilots (FC) at our operational bases in Spain and elsewhere in Europe, as we have done in recent years,” (COO) Fernando Val said.
For the upcoming recruitment push, (VUZ) has established 2 profiles (the 1st covering pilots (FC) with some flying professional flying experience and the 2nd for pilots (FC) with more experience.
Vueling (VUZ) operates 365 routes to >160 cities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa from 22 bases. (VUZ) has a fleet of 100 Airbus A320 family airplanes.
(VUZ) launched in 2004 with 2 Airbus A320s, serving 3 cities.
(CEO) Alex Cruz said last year, “Absolutely the biggest challenge for us is to handle growth. Growth and the success of the last few years cannot make us relax at all.” For example, “in 1 year, (VUZ) added 26 new cities from Barcelona,” he said.
In August, the International Airlines Group (IAG) (parent of British Airways (BAB), Iberia (IBE) and Vueling (VUZ)) converted options for 20 Airbus A320neos into firm orders.
News Item A-2: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) appointed David García Blancas as its new (CCO). He was formerly (CCO) of Poland’s (LOT) Airlines.
October 2015: News Item A-1: The International Airlines Group (parent company of British Airways (BAB), Iberia (IBE), Vueling (VUZ) and Aer Lingus (ARL)) reported a 3rd-quarter net profit of +€883 million/+$992.8 million, up +39.3% compared to a net profit of +€634 million for the same period last year. The figures do not include exceptional charges of €38 million related to (IAG)’s acquisition of (ARL).
The profit figures were reached on total revenue of €6.76 billion, up +15.2% on the year-ago figure of €5.87 billion.
The 3rd quarter’s results were the 1st to include a contribution from (ARL), which the (IAG) acquired in August.
Operating profits for the quarter to September 30 climbed to €1.25 billion, an improvement from last year of €350 million, including Aer Lingus (ARL) and €305 million better, excluding (ARL).
Breaking down the group’s operating profits by individual airline, (BAB) recorded a figure of £589 million compared to £484 million for the same period last year; (IBE) made a profit of +€200 million, up from +€162 million, and (VUZ) showed a positive figure of +€178 million (2014: +€140 million). (ARL)’s operating profit was +€45 million from August 18, the date of acquisition.
The (IAG) expects to generate an operating profit for the full year of +€2.25 to +€2.3 billion, excluding (ARL). This figure is marginally up on previous guidance. “We’re reporting strong quarter results with a positive contribution from all of our airlines,” commented (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh.
“Our passenger unit revenue showed a better trend than in the 2nd quarter of the year and our cost performance remained strong,” Walsh said. “(ARL) made an operating profit of +€45 million since it joined the (IAG) on August 18. While (ARL)’s profitability is seasonal, (ARL) is cost-effective and provides a natural gateway to build our business between Europe and North America. It’s a great asset for the group.”
He added that the (IAG) would make its 1st dividend payment (of 10 euro cents per share). “For the full year, we expect to pay out 25% of our underlying profit after tax in dividends, and plan to announce a proposal for a final dividend for 2015, when the full-year results are published.”
Both the (IAG)’s revenue and cost figures have been favorably affected by the strength of the USA dollar and sterling, 2 of the most significant currencies in its operations.
Walsh noted (IBE)’s figures are expected to improve further as (IBE)’s transformation process continues. Changes to its management structure means it is now much more nimble in taking advantage of rapidly changing tactical situations in the marketplace.
Growth in the quarter had come from all parts of the group; Iberia (IBE), for example, had restored some previously ditched routes, such as Madrid - Havana, and opened new ones, such as Madrid - Cali, while (BAB) opened up London Heathrow - Kuala Lumpur.
November 2015: News Item A-1: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) is to launch 3x-weekly, Manchester - Alicante and 2x-weekly Manchester – Rome in June. Both will be flown with an A320.
News Item A-2: "Vueling (VUZ) (CEO) Named Next British Airways (BAB) Chief."
The International Airlines Group (IAG) has named Vueling (VUZ) (CEO) Alex Cruz as the next Chairman and (CEO) of British Airways (BAB), succeeding Keith Williams who will retire April 2016. (VUZ) is an airline member of the (IAG).
News Item A-3: "The (IAG) Converts Options on 4 Airbus A330s, 15 A320neos" by (ATW) Victoria Moores, November 5, 2015.
The International Airlines Group (IAG) has converted options on 2 Airbus A330-300s for Aer Lingus (ARL), 2 A330-200s for Iberia (IBE) and 15 A320neos for use across the group.
Announcing the deal November 5, the (IAG) said it had negotiated “a substantial discount” from the list price. “The modern, fuel efficient aircraft will bring both cost efficiencies and environmental benefits to the airlines,” the (IAG) said.
(ARL) will receive its 2 A330-200s in 2016 and the 2 A330-300s will be delivered to (IBE) between 2017 and 2018. The A330s, which finalize options from the (IAG)’s September 2014 order, will be used to expand the 2 airlines’ long-haul fleets.
The A320neo options have been firmed up from an order originally placed in August 2013. “These aircraft will be delivered between 2018 and 2021 and can be used by any airline in the Group for fleet replacement,” the (IAG) said.
December 2015: Vueling (VUZ) is to launch 3 new interline agreements with long-haul carriers Cathay Pacific (CAT), Hainan Airlines (HNA) and Royal Jordanian (RJA).
The new arrangements will largely focus on Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, (VUL)’s major hub outside Spain, from where it has connections to 65 destinations.
This will offer additional connections to long-haul flights arriving at Fiumicino, making it a European gateway for the 3 airlines.
The arrangement is unusual because most low cost carriers (LCC)s operate a strictly point-to-point policy and do not offer connecting services with other carriers.
The cooperation agreements will enable the Chinese and Jordanian carriers to expand their offer of flights in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Currently, (CAT) has a daily flight from its Hong Kong home base to Fiumicino, while Royal Jordanian (RJA) has 5x-weekly, services from Amman, and (HNA) has 4x-weekly flights, 2x- from Chongqing and 2x- from Xi’an.
(RJA) passengers on its 3x-weekly flights from Amman to Barcelona El Prat (Vueling (VUZ)'s home base) can also connect to (VUZ)’s 150 destinations.
The agreement will allow passengers to book their flights (including those with (VUZ)) on a single ticket, and book their luggage through to the final destination. (VUZ) has existing interline arrangements with American Airlines (AAL), British Airways (BAB), and Qatar Airways (QTA), the new agreements will bring additional passengers to (VUZ)’s long-haul flights to areas such as West Africa.
To date in 2015, (VUZ) said it has carried >500,000 passengers from Asia and >50,000 from the Middle East.
A319-111 (3169, EC-MIQ), ex-(EI-EPR) and A320-232 (6841, EC-MJC), ex-(F-WWIA) deliveries.
January 2016: Vueling (VUZ) begins 4x-daily, London Luton (LLA) - Barcelona and – Amsterdam services.
February 2016: News Item A-1: The International Airlines Group (IAG) (parent company of Aer Lingus (ARL), British Airways (BAB), Iberia (IBE), and Vueling (VUZ)) reported a +51.5% rise in 2015 net profit to +€1.52 billion/+$1.66 billion, compared to +€1 billion in 2014. Full-year revenue was up +13.3% at €22.8 billion compared to €20.1 billion last time.
In capacity, (ASK)s rose +8.2% to 272.7 billion (of which +3.2% came from the inclusion of the Aer Lingus (ARL) fleet) and load factor rose +1% to 81.4% LF, while (RASK)s rose +5.4% to 7.46 euro cents. Passenger numbers were up +14.2% at 88.3 million compared to 77.3 million last time.
Fuel costs for the year before exceptional items dropped -6.3%, while non-fuel costs before exceptional items were up +4.3%.
“We’re reporting very strong full year results,” (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh said. “These results are in line with our recent target and have exceeded our original 2015 operating profit target of +€1.5 billion that we set in 2011. “It’s undoubtedly been a good year, but it’s also been challenging, with extreme volatility in the currency and fuel markets. The benefits we gained from lower fuel prices have been partially offset by the stronger USA dollar.”
The (IAG) completed the acquisition of (ARL) over the summer and Walsh (a former (ARL) (CEO)) said (ARL) the Irish flag carrier had made a +ve contribution of +€35 million since it formally joined the group on August 18, 2015.
The (IAG) said that (IBE), which for the early years of the consortium was a notable drag on the group, had made “significant progress on its “Plan de Futuro,” improving its cost base and recovering routes previously withdrawn. The turnaround of (IBE) is leading to a profitable and efficient new airline capable of growing in its strategic markets and starting to achieve positive returns for the Group, with a positive after-tax profit of +€155 million.”
In 2016, the (IAG) anticipates it will generate an absolute operating profit increase similar to that in 2015, when it leapt +68% before exceptional items. Revenue trends for (1Q) 2016 “appear broadly in line with those experienced in quarter four 2015.”
News Item A-2: Vueling (VUZ) on February 3 commenced a daily service between Amsterdam (AMS) and Milan Malpensa (MXP). (VUZ) will operate the 797 km sector between the Dutch and Italian cities with its A320 fleet. Direct competition on the route comes in the form of easyJet (EZY), which operates 24x-weekly flights between the 2 gateways. Indirect competition on the route is provided by Alitalia (ALI) (14x-weekly flights) and (KLM) (28x-weekly flights), as well as easyJet (EZY) again (6x-weekly flights), who all offer flights between Amsterdam and Milan Linate. (VUZ)’s next route to commence from Amsterdam is to London Luton on March 18, while further services to Catania, Gran Canaria, Lisbon, and Naples will also launch later this year. This summer, (VUZ) will serve a total of 17 destinations from Amsterdam compared with 10 last summer.
News Item A-3: "(IAG) Appoints New Vueling (CEO)" by (ATW) Alan Dron, February 29, 2016.
The International Airlines Group (IAG) has appointed Javier Sánchez-Prieto as the new Chairman & (CEO) of Spanish low-cost carrier (LCC) Vueling. He replaces Alex Cruz, who is due to become Chairman & (CEO) of British Airways (BAB).
(IAG) is the parent company to Aer Lingus (ARL), British Airways (BAB), Iberia (IBE), and Vueling (VUZ).
Sánchez-Prieto will move into his new post from his current role as Iberia’s (CFO). In his new role, he will report to (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh and join (IAG)’s management committee.
“Javier has an excellent track record at (IBE) and has been instrumental in achieving (IBE)’s financial turnaround,” Walsh said. “I’m confident that he will continue the great progress that (VUZ) has made and expanded profitably across Europe, while remaining focused on keeping costs low. Javier will develop that strategy.”
Sánchez-Prieto joined Iberia (IBE) in 2013, having previously been (CFO) at (IBE), the Spanish flag carrier’s low-cost arm, Iberia Express since its formation in 2012.
March 2016: Wizz Air (WZZ) appointed former Vueling (VUZ) (CFO), Sonia Jerez Burdeus as its (CFO), to be effective June 1. She was also a member of the founding management team of Clickair S A and was (CFO) from 2006 to 2008 when Clickair S A merged with (VUZ).
April 2016: News Item A-1: Vueling (VUZ) began its 17th route from Alicante (ALC) and its 42nd service between Spain and France. Launched on April 9, the weekly (Saturdays) operation to Nantes (NTE) will be flown by (VUZ)’s 180Y-seat A320s. Volotea (VLZ) is the incumbent carrier on the 990 km sector, flying the route (only since April 2) currently with an identical weekly frequency.
News Item A-2: Vueling Airlines (VUZ) will wet-lease 3 A320-200s from Air Berlin (BER) to cover a surge in demand during the current summer season.
April 2016: News Item A-1: The International Airlines Group (IAG), parent company of British Airways (BAB), Iberia (IBE), Vueling (VUZ) and Aer Lingus (ARL) posted a 1st-quarter net profit of +€104 million/+$118 million, reversed from a net loss of -€26 million a year ago. The result was achieved on revenue of just >€5 billion, compared to >€4.7 billion for the year-ago period.
The January to March 1st quarter, incorporating the post-festive season dip, is traditionally the weakest period of the financial year.
Capacity measured by (ASK)s jumped +11.9% to 66.2 billion, although this includes the addition of Aer Lingus (ARL), which the (IAG) acquired last fall. Stripping out the (ARL) component, capacity was up +4.8%, slightly skewed by the extra day in February.
(RPK)s more than kept pace, rising +13.8% to 52.2 billion. Load factor rose +1.2 points to 78.9% LF.
“This is a good performance, with a strong increase in what is traditionally the weakest quarter,” (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh said. “Total revenue was up +7.9% and total cost per (ASK) decreased -6.1%.
“January and February’s revenue was in line with (Q4) 2015 trends. March revenue was affected by the timing of Easter and the Brussels terrorist attacks, with the latter continuing into (2Q).
“Our productivity has improved +5.9% and the underlying non-fuel unit costs performance continued to show improvement across our companies.”
The aftershocks of the Brussels attack, together with what Walsh described as “some softness in underlying premium demand” has led the (IAG) to trim its short-term capacity growth plans.
For the full year, the (IAG) expects to cut underlying ex-fuel costs by -1%. “Consequently, in 2016, the (IAG) still expects to generate an absolute operating profit increase similar to 2015.”
The (1Q) saw the continuing benefit from low fuel prices (-14.3% lower than (1Q) 2015), partially offset by the headwind of a stronger dollar vis-à-vis both the euro and the pound, creating some €62 million of adverse foreign exchange transaction costs.
Cargo revenue for the period decreased -1.5%, or -5.9%, excluding Aer Lingus (ARL). The cargo premium mix remained strong, the (IAG) said, but overall market conditions were weaker than last year, which benefited from a USA port strike.
Other revenue rose +15.1% from an increase in activity at "BA Holidays" and in Iberia (IBE)’s 3rd-party maintenance.
July 2016: A319-132 (2396, SX-ABE), ex-(B-6170), sub wet-leased from Olympus Airways.
August 2016: See attached - "VUZ-2016-08 - Top 15 Routes.jpg."
Barcelona-based Vueling (VUZ) has grown amazingly quickly in the last 6 years. In the summer of 2010, after completing its merger with local rival clickair in 2009, (VUZ) was operating just <100 routes during the peak summer period of early August. 6 years later that number had risen to just <400.
(VUZ), like all carriers, regularly reviews its network and identifies routes that are failing to meet their financial targets. Between summer 2015 and summer 2016 (VUZ)’s network has increased by +28 from 363 routes to 391. However, this rather disguises the fact that 67 routes were added but, more significantly, that 39 were dropped.
A total of 156 airports received (VUZ) flights in the week commencing August 1, 2016. Barcelona is by far (VUZ)’s biggest base. It currently offers non-stop flights to over >140 destinations from Spain’s 2nd busiest airport. For comparison, Ryanair (RYR) from its biggest base at London Stansted served 128 destinations this summer, while easyJet (EZY) offered service to 100 destinations from its largest base at London Gatwick.
Rome Fiumicino is Vueling (VUZ)’s second biggest base with almost 60 destinations served. 6 of the 7 next best-connected airports are in Spain, with Paris Orly the exception. (VUZ) serves 19 destinations this summer from Paris’ 2nd busiest airport while also serving 13 destinations from Paris (CDG).
November 2016: "(IAG) Signs Up for Next-gen Wi-Fi" by (ATW) Alan Dron firstname.lastname@example.org, November 3, 2016.
The International Airlines Group (IAG) is to introduce high-speed Wi-Fi across its constituent carriers’ short-haul fleets, as it becomes the launch customer for Inmarsat’s next-generation connectivity system.
The (IAG) (comprising Aer Lingus (ARL), British Airways (BAB), Iberia (IBE) and Vueling (VUZ)) will equip up to 341 of its short-haul aircraft with the necessary equipment to provide a 4G broadband network. They include 132 (BAB), 125 (VUZ), 45 Iberia (IBE), and 39 Aer Lingus (ARL) Airbus A320-family aircraft.
The new system will offer customers broadband internet access on their own mobile devices, allowing them to use email, check social media and stream videos. Bandwidth capacity will allow them to use multiple devices simultaneously, while connection speeds will be similar to what they have at home, the (IAG) said. “We are giving our customers the fastest connectivity you can get on any aircraft,” (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh said.
Earlier this year, the (IAG) announced the installation of Wi-Fi on its long-haul aircraft. “Connectivity is essential because it’s what our customers demand and the (IAG) will be the 1st European airline group to offer high-quality air-to-ground Wi-Fi on short-haul flights,” Walsh added.
“The European Aviation Network is a game changer for the millions of airline passengers that have been cut-off from fast, reliable and consistent broadband access during flights in Europe,” Inmarsat Aviation President Leo Mondale said. “It will combine the strengths of Inmarsat’s satellite connectivity with a powerful ground network operated by our partner Deutsche Telekom.”
The 1st short-haul aircraft to be equipped with the new system (a (BAB) A321) will be in service summer 2017. (ARL), (IBE) and (VUZ) aircraft will follow later in the year.
The new development means that by 2019, 90% of (IAG) airlines’ fleets will have connectivity.
January 2017: In 2016, Vueling Airlines (VUZ) had 28,05 million (RPK)s, 82.8% LF (2015: 24.78 million (RPK)s; 81.3% LF) +13.2% (RPK)s.
February 2017: News Item A-1: Lobby group "Airlines for Europe" (A4E) has completed its 1st year of operations, bringing both successes and some ongoing frustrations. (A4E) was started by Europe’s 5 major airline players: Air France (AFA) - (KLM), UK-based easyJet (ESJ), the International Airlines Group (IAG), Lufthansa (DLH), and Irish low-cost carrier (LCC) Ryanair (RYR) in January 2016 to focus on key policy areas, including airport charges, air traffic control (ATC) strikes and taxation.
March 2017: The International Airlines Group (IAG) launched its long-anticipated low-cost, long-haul carrier March 17, naming it "Level."
The new airline will be based at Barcelona’s El Prat airport, the hub of (IAG)’s low-cost carrier (LCC) Vueling (VUZ), which is expected to act as a feeder for the new long-haul operation. Level will start operations in June 2017, with 2 initial USA destinations of Los Angeles (2x-weekly) and San Francisco Oakland (3x-weekly), plus Buenos Aires, Argentina (3x-weekly) and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (2x-weekly). Further European cities will be added to the route map later, but an (IAG) spokeswoman declined to name them.
Initial equipment will consist of 2 new Airbus A330-200s, part of a batch of five options previously taken out with Airbus. More aircraft will be added to the Level fleet as the route map expands, the spokeswoman said. The 2 initial aircraft will be in a 2-class configuration, with 21PY premium economy and 293Y economy seats.
Level (LVL) will be orientated toward the leisure market: “We’re very much targeting people that want to fly long-haul, but haven’t been able to afford it in the past,” the spokeswoman said. The airline’s name was chosen because, “We believe this brand is about leveling the playing field so more people have the chance to fly long-haul.”
The 2 initial aircraft will be operated by crews from Spanish flag carrier Iberia (IBE), another of (IAG)’s brands. “Level (LVL) will become (IAG)’s 5th main airline brand alongside Aer Lingus (ARL), British Airways (BAB), Iberia (IBE) and Vueling (VUZ),” (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh said. “Barcelona is Vueling (VUZ)’s home base and this will allow customers to connect from (VUZ)’s extensive European network onto Level’s long-haul flights.”
Walsh has long been an admirer of Norwegian (NWG)’s young, but rapidly expanding, low-cost long-haul operation.
Like other low cost carriers (LCC)s, Level’s fares will be un-bundled, with economy (Y)-class passengers adding services at additional cost. Premium-economy (PY) passengers will have complimentary checked baggage plus a cabin bag, meals, seat selection and in-flight entertainment.
All passengers will have access to what (IAG) describes as a wide range of on-board entertainment options, but high-speed internet connectivity will come at a price (the minimum charge will be €8.99/($9.65)).
May 2017: The International Airlines Group (IAG) posted a 1st-quarter net profit of +€27 million/+$29.6 million, down -74% from net profit of +€104 million in (1Q) 2016. The company said adverse currency movements played a significant part in the profit drop.
Revenue for the quarter was €4.9 billion, down -2.8% from the year-ago figure of €5.08 billion.
However (IAG) (the parent company for Aer Lingus (ARL), British Airways, Iberia (IBE) and Vueling (VUZ)) said it had recorded its highest-ever operating profit for the traditionally weak 1st quarter of the year, at €170 million before exceptional items, up +9.7% compared to +€155 million last time.
The (IAG) said (1Q) 2017 had seen a backdrop of increasing fuel prices and a stronger USA dollar against both the euro and the UK pound. This gave an adverse foreign exchange figure of €32 million.
In an analysts’ call on the figures reported by "Reuters," Walsh said the group’s new long-haul, low-cost carrier (LCC), "Level," would add “2 or 3” aircraft to its initial 2 Airbus A330-200s in 2018 and would begin to operate from at least 1 new European base, apart from its initial base at Barcelona.
The “improving trend” in passenger unit revenue was continuing, (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh said, with (2Q) passenger unit revenue also anticipated to be up on the year-ago figure. At current fuel prices and exchange rates, the group was on course to improve its operating profit figure for 2017 compared to 2016, he added.
Capacity rose +3.3% to 68.3 billion ASKs, while load factor inched up +0.1% to 79% LF. Although capacity grew across all regions, the group picked out Aer Lingus (ARL)’s continued growth on North Atlantic services, while low-cost carrier (LCC) Vueling (VUZ) grew in its Spanish homeland and was able to reduce its seasonality.
(BAB) launched new routes to Santiago, Chile, and Oakland, California, while dropping 1 of its China routes, to Chengdu. Iberia (IBE) continued to rationalize its European operations, while increasing capacity on long-haul routes launched in 2016, such as Shanghai, Tokyo and Johannesburg.
Passenger revenue kept pace with the capacity increase, up +3.3% at 53.9 billion RPKs, while cargo tonne kms rose +3.6% to 1.37 billion.
Passenger numbers rose +3.8%, to 21.1 million, up from 20.4 million a year ago.
Employee costs were €1.15 billion, down -6% compared to the same period in 2016, while fuel, oil and emission charges dropped -10.8% to €1.06 billion.
June 2017: News Item A-3: "Walsh: (IAG)’s Level and Vueling on Standby to Fill Alitalia Capacity" by (ATW) Kurt Hofmann email@example.com, June 30, 2017.
International Airlines Group (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh said (IAG) member airlines Level (LVL) and Vueling (VUZ) are prepared to provide immediate additional capacity if Alitalia (ALI) is forced to downsize and restructure further.
Speaking on the sidelines of an Airlines for Europe (A4E) event at the European Parliament in Brussels June 29, Walsh said Spanish low-cost carrier (LCC) Vueling (VUZ), an (IAG) member airline, “has a significant operation in Italy and we will [also] operate our new long-haul (LCC) Level (LVL) from Rome Fiumicino.”
The (IAG)’s new Level airline (LVL) launched flights from Barcelona June 1. “The passenger demand is absolutely fantastic,” Walsh said. “Level (LVL) operates 2 Airbus A330s [and] 3 more aircraft are expected to join the fleet in 2018.”
Walsh said the (IAG) is not interested in acquiring Alitalia (ALI).
“We had been very clear: any reduction of capacity [from (ALI)] as a result of [its] restructuring will be filled,” Walsh said, adding it would not possible for the (IAG) to take over aircraft from (ALI), saying nearly all of (ALI)’s aircraft are leased and mostly Irish-registered.
Responding to a question about (IAG) member airline British Airways (BAB)’s plans to wet-lease 9 Qatar Airways (QTA) Airbus A320 family aircraft to fly its passengers during a planned 16-day mixed fleet cabin crew strike set for July 1 - 16, Walsh said “British Airways (BAB) will continue flying. Where [there] are disruptions [by the strike], we [will] use capacity from other airlines like we did in the past. We did it before and we [will] do it again. There is nothing new in this,” Walsh said. “We demonstrated [this] successfully on other occasions. When we say we operate, we operate.”
Click below for photos:
VUZ-A320 - 2013-08
1 A319-111 (CFM56-5B5) (2843, /06 EC-JVE), EX-(D-AVYT), (IBE) LSD 2013-03. 44C, 78Y.
1 A319-111 (CFM56-5B5) (3169, EC-MIQ), EX-(EI-EPR) 2015-12. 44C, 78Y.
1 A319-132 (V2524-A5) (2396, SX-ABE), EX-(B-6170) OLYMPUS AIRWAYS WET-LSD 2016-07. 44C, 78Y.
2 A320-200, (ILF) 6 YR LSD.
2 ORDERS (2013-05) A320-200 (V2522-A5) (SIL) LSD:
1 +2 ORDERS A320-200 (GEF) LSD 2013-03.
3 A320-200, AVION EXPRESS (AVS) WET-LEASED 2014-03.
25/58 ORDERS A320 FAMILY JETS:
40/92 ORDERS A320neo FAMILY JETS (20 A320neo TO BRITISH AIRWAYS (BAB)):
1 A320-211 (CFM56-5A1) (143, /90 EC-GRG), (GCP) LSD 2007-02. ALL 1WHITE COLORS WITH "VUELING" TITLES. 180Y.
4 A320-211 (CFM56-5A1) (146, /90 EC-GRH; 240, /91 EC-ICR; 241, /91 EC-ICS; 264, /91 EC-ICT), JETSTREAM AVIATION SERVICES LSD 2006-09. 180Y.
1 A320-211 (CFM56-5A1) (158, EC-FCB; 199, /91 EC-ICQ "IKER OCHANDARENA"), (IBE) LSD 2010-06. 158; RTND. 180Y.
1 A320-211 (CFM56-5A1) (323, /92 EC-FNR), (IBE) WET-LSD 1992-07, 180Y.
1 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (992, /99 EC-JZQ "I WENT TO VUELING"), FLY LEASING LSD 2006-12. 180Y.
0 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (1171, EC-LVA; 1372-EC-LVC), RETURNED TO (GECAS) 2017-02. 180Y.
5 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (1221, /00 EC-HHA; 1396, /01 EC-HQI "MERCE SUNE;" 1430, /01 EC-HQJ; 1461, /01 EC-HQL "CLICK ON VUELING;" 1550, /01 EC-HTD "UNOS VUELAN, OTROS VUELING"), (ILF) LSD 2007-11. 180Y.
2 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (1413, /01 EC-KBU "BE VUELING MY FRIEND" 2008-09; 4855, EC-LOC, 2011-10), (SIL) LSD. 180Y.
5 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (1578, EC-HZU, (IBW) LSD; 2207, /04 EC-IZD "BARCELONING;" 2540, /05 EC-JMB "ELOY FRUCTUOSO" 2005-10; 2623, /05 EC-JNT "QUIENNO CORRE VUELING" 2005-12; 2678, /06 EC-JPL "VUELDONE" 2006-02), (TCI) LSD. 2540; RTND. 2678; WET-LST AIR ARABIA (ABZ) 2008-08 AS (A6-ABZ). 180Y.
0 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (1769, /01 EC-JDK "VUELING THE SKY"), (GAX) LSD 2004-11. RTND. 180Y.
1 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (2104, /03 EC-JFH), (BBB) LSD 2003-12. 180Y.
3 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (2114, /03 EC-JDO "VINI, VIDI, VUELING;" 2407, /05 EC-JGM "THE JOY OF VUELING;" 3293, /07 EC-KKT "VUELING TOGETHER"), EX-(PRH), (GEF) LSD. 2407; WET-LST (SGU) 2012-09. 180Y.
1 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (2227, /04 EC-JAB "BORN TO BE VUELING"), (BOU) LSD 2004-07. 180Y.
1 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (2388, /05 EC-JFF "VUELING THE WORLD"), (GCP) LSD. 180Y.
10 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (2596, /05 EC-JNA "LA VITA E VUELING;" 2761, /06 EC-JRI "VUELING VOY, VUELING VENGO;" 2785, EC-JSY "CONNIE BARAJA" 2006-05; 2794, /06 EC-JTQ "VUELING QUE ES GERINDIO!;" 2798, /06 EC-JTR NO VUELING, NO PARTY;" 2988, /06 EC-JZI "VUELING IN LOVE;" 3083, /07 EC-KDH AIN'T NO VUELING HIGH ENOUGH;" 3095, /07 EC-KDG "ABSOLUTE VUELING/MTV COLORS;" 3529, EC-KRK, 2008-05 "VUELING IN THE SKY"), 2596; RTND. (ILF) 6 YR LSD. 180Y.
3 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (2962, /06 EC-JYX "ELISENDA MASANA;" 3321, /07 EC-KLB "VUELA Y PUNTO;" 3529, /08 EC-KRH "VUELING ME SOFTLY"), MACQUARIE LSD. 180Y.
0 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (3040, EX-(F-WWDK) 2007-01. RTND. 177Y.
1 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (3152, EC-KEZ), RBS AVIATION LSD 2006-06. RTND. 180Y.
1 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (3246, EC-KJY), 180Y.
2 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (3540, LZ-FBC), LST (HMS), WET-LST (LZB) 2008-11. 180Y.
2 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (3833, EC-MBL, 3907, EC-MCU), EX-(EI-FEZ & EI-ERX), (DEA) LSD 2014-07. WITH SHARKLETS. 180Y.
1 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (5673, EC-LVX "VEULINGSGEFUHLE"), EX-(D-AVVB), (AWW) LSD 2013-06. 180Y.
2 A320-214 (CFM56-5B4/P) (6079, EC-MAN "VUELING FAVORLARE ROMA;" 6081, EC-MAO "FEEL HOME - FLY VUELING"). 2014-06. 180Y.
1 A320-216 (CFM56-5B6/P) (3145, /07 EC-KDT "READY, STEADY, VUELING"), (NBB) LEASING LSD 2007-05. 180Y.
1 A320-216 (CFM56-5B6/P) (3145, /07 EC-KDX "FRANCISCO JOSE RUIZ CORTIZO"), (IBE) WET-LSD, 180Y.
2 A320-216 (CFM56-5B6/P) (3174, /07 EC-KFI; 3203, /07 EC-KHN), TOP FLIGHT LEASING LSD 2007-08. 180Y.
1 A320-216 (CFM56-5B6/P) (3237, /07 EC-KJD), FLY LEASING LSD. 180Y.
2 A320-216 (CFM56-5B6/P) (3376, /08 EC-KLT, 3400, /08 EC-KMI "HOW ARE YOU?, I'M VUELING"), (HKAC) LSD. 180Y.
2 A320-232 (1749, EC-LQL; 5620, EC-LVV "VUELING FOR A DREAM"), 2013-06. 180Y.
1 A320-232 (5599, EC-LVS; 6510, EC-MER), 2016-11.
2 A320-232 (6123, EC-MBS; 6128, EC-MBT), EX-(F-WWDU & D-AXAX), (BOC) AVIATION (SIL) LSD 2014-06. 180Y.
3 A320-232 (6510, EC-MER; 6594, EC-MFN "IN VUELING WE TRUST;" 6607, EC-MGE "#BUENVUELING"), 2015-05. WITH SHARKLETS. 180Y.
2 A320-232 (6841, EC-MJC; 7402, EC-MOG), EX-(F-WWIA) 2015-12.
1 A320-233 (0747, LY-VEM), EX-(EI-FBB), AVION EXPRESS LSD 2014-06. 180Y.
5 ORDERS A321-200:
Click below for photos:
VUZ-3-CARLOS MUNOZ 2006-02
VUZ-3-FERNANDO VAL - 2013-09
ALEX CRUZ, CHAIRMAN & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER (CEO) BRITISH AIRWAYS (BAB) NAMED BY THE INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES GROUP (IAG) (2016-04).
Alex succeeded Keith Williams, (BAB) Chairman & (CEO) who retired 2016-04.
Alex had been Chairman & (CEO) of merged (CLK) & (VUZ) (2013-08).
2014-06 Interview of Alex Cruz, reported in "Airport Business" magazine By Paul Hogan, anna.aero.
Alex Cruz: We don’t like low cost airports and low cost terminals.”
It’s not exactly what you expect to hear from Alex Cruz, (CEO) of Vueling (VUZ), the boss of Europe’s 4th-largest low cost carrier (LCC), which expects to overtake Norwegian (NWG) to become Europe’s #3 (LCC) within the next year (you can probably guess which (LCC)s are #1 and #2) - - (RyanAir (RYR) & easyJet (EZY)). (VUZ) is on a major growth spurt, taking in lots of new leased airplanes every year, and dramatically opening a major new base in Rome in the spring. On the eve of (VUZ)’s 10th birthday (July 1), (VUZ) would be operating 90 airplanes, up from 38 in 2010, and serving close to 300 routes.
Cruz didn’t much like the (LCC) label either. “In previous times commentators haven’t known which category to put us into (‘(LCC)’ or ‘hybrid’). I think ‘extremely productive’ might be a better one.” Cruz was referring to the noticeably changed dynamic among all the big ‘non-legacy’ airlines who have decided that they want to raise average yields significantly by putting the business traveler at the core of their model – the same staple passenger which most airlines relied upon for ultimate profitability for 50 years before the invention of the (LCC).
“We’re definitely serving the business traveler (they’re 39% of our customers) and a much bigger slice of the revenues and profits. Airports who want to win our business (and get the benefit of serving and selling things to our customers) need to appreciate what service level we know these customers expect. For these reasons we insisted on using the full service facilities at Schiphol and not the low cost offering. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we don’t take airport fees into account; ultimately, we have the best relationships with those airports that have similar commercial pressures to us.”
Airport Business met Alex Cruz at Heathrow (LHR), the headquarters of
the International Airlines Group (IAG) which also comprises British Airways and Iberia. The (IAG) bought control of Vueling (VUZ) in 2013 (previously its other (IAG) stable mate, Iberia (IBE) had a large but non-controlling 48% holding.
According to the (IAG), the takeover allowed (VUZ) to: “Retain its individual brand and current operations, while (VUZ)’s customers benefitted from a larger combined network.” It also meant that Cruz reported directly to (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh. “It’s a high pressured environment to put it mildly. But that’s in the genes of (VUZ) anyway, having originally grown from a start-up. We have clear profitability and growth objectives and the rest of (IAG), starting with Willie Walsh, understand (VUZ)’s business model. Specifically, Willie’s experience as boss of Aer Lingus (ARL) showed: Walsh knew very well what was required to manage a company of our size and he supported all of our efforts to become a better airline. He knew we had a lot of competitive pressures coming from the market.”
After becoming part of (IAG) it quickly became apparent this “market” was about to become a lot bigger for (VUZ). (IAG) ownership gave (VUZ) access to a much larger pool of all kinds of resources, and the (IAG) announced in August 2013 that an additional 120 A320s would be deployed to (VUZ) 2015 - 2020. Big ambitions were in prospect and it did not take long to find out where those lay.
Brussels is a major airport which became a (VUZ) base that spring, albeit with only one airplane. “Brussels was a small base. We had more important bases in Paris, and even in Florence, where we had 2 airplanes. But Brussels got us a lot of publicity and attention, especially as Ryanair followed us there. But it was a nice place (we could be a little bit flexible with the capacity, and tried some new routes).”
With growth operations in Brussels, Rome, Paris, Florence and Amsterdam, (VUZ) would not just focus in non-Spanish markets. “We continued to grow in Spain with an emphasis on non-domestic traffic,” remarked Cruz. (VUZ) expected to continue slowly building connectivity with northern airports and pushed healthy growth in southern and island airports. “Spain continues to be a fantastic holiday destination and (VUZ) was consolidating itself as a significant ‘sun and beach’ player in Italy, Germany and France, while we also grew in the UK and Scandinavia.”
Rome transformation “would not be built in a day.”
In some contrast, Cruz lit up and enthused about (VUZ)’s new Rome
base: “Rome was a very big bet; we could really make something out of Rome.” Indeed (VUZ)’s Rome’s Fiumicino expansion was seismic: It comprised the summer 2014 introduction of 24 new routes (7 domestic and 17 international) and the decision to base a total of 8 Airbus airplanes at the airport. Of the 24 new destinations only 3 (all in Spain) were not already served by 1 or more carriers (including 11 by (RYR)). But the base was especially challenging to Alitalia (ALI), for which Rome was a ‘last stand’ to which it had already retreated from Milan (Malpensa was a major easyJet (EZY) base; while Milan Bergamo was similarly for (RYR)). (ALI) has long had to put up with a significant (RYR) base at Rome Ciampino but, once again, (VUZ)’s move on Rome was a frontal assault on (ALI)’s business traveler market.
“France had always been their 2nd biggest market and Paris their biggest base outside of Spain, but later Rome would be. Rome had a lot of parallels with Barcelona, where the whole (VUZ) story started. Indeed, at the end of that year, Rome would be about the size that (VUZ) was, in Barcelona by about 2009. We would also be the #2 airline after Alitalia (ALI) and competed very much with them through domestic and international products by offering frequent flyer programs and many other business products (all the things people had with (ALI)) and they wanted them again.” (Although it was worth noting that Vueling (VUZ) was not a member of the Oneworld (ONW) alliance, even though it did code share with Iberia (IBE) on the vast majority of its routes), “Rome was not built in a day and neither was its transformation brought about, when they turned up with their planes in a single day. We were building, but we did have a fantastic summer in prospect.”
Cruz also said he was thoroughly enjoying establishing a major Italian business: “Italy has a lot of parallels with Spain, the cultural closeness has been very important and a great benefit (the Italians’ think similarly to us and have a great work ethic, I am not just talking about stereotypes) obviously (VUZ) was not just Spanish or Spain (but we were working towards our Italian citizenship) to be accepted by the people with a reliable product, but at very reasonable prices.”
* Bigger Vueling (VUZ): Which airports would get new routes?
According to anna.aero’s analysis of Innovata/Diio Mi data for August 2013 and August 2014, Vueling (VUZ)’s capacity was up +31% that summer, with Italy (+143%), Belgium (+111%), and Greece (+169%) seeing particularly rapid growth. The 1st 2 were driven by (VUZ)’s expansion at Rome and Brussels. Overall, since the previous summer, Vueling (VUZ) had started operations in 8 new country markets: Armenia, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Senegal, Serbia, and Tunisia.
However, with the new bases, Cruz thought that the bulk of the route growth would center on new services between existing airport operations. “It was fair to say that they had put most of the dots on the map, that there wouldn’t be a great increase in destinations, but with the new bases they would do a lot of dot connecting. It was true that there were ‘white spots’ (with 125 different airport destinations on their system they had a bit of everything in terms of north-south, east-west, business, leisure, and highly liberal, and highly regulated. We were not big in certain markets for obvious reasons) for instance a lot of people were very excited about Turkey, but for us it was an outbound and leisure market which had yet to prove it could generate a healthy traffic base from their key markets like Barcelona, and they didn’t fly to Dublin then where they’d be competing with the incoming airlines.”
* Routes to Russia/(CIS)/Eurasian Economic Union.
Like many airlines, the crisis in Ukraine had meant that Vueling (VUZ) had to postpone some very positive route developments which were just about to happen ((VUZ) was due to launch 3 services to Ukraine from Barcelona that year) Kiev Zhuliany went ahead on April 12th, but not services to the eastern Ukraine cities of Kharkov on June 4th and to Donetsk on June 5th. However, Cruz said that despite the unrest, performance of the new Kiev route had been “very good” and he was keen to resume expansion when the situation normalized.
Indeed, (VUZ) was very experienced in the Russian market having first began services to Moscow Domodedovo in 2009. Reporting that load factors were “all in the nineties” from Russia and the (CIS)/Eurasian Economic Union countries, Cruz said that there were substantial opportunities: “Russia was still a very old fashioned, regulated bilateral market, although there were some flexibilities from second cities.” In this respect, Cruz hoped to soon add Rome - St Petersburg and Florence - Moscow: “We wanted to start those as soon as possible. To appreciate the size of this growing opportunity, when they started Barcelona - Moscow services, they were operating 3 - 4 weekly frequencies. Now they’re doing the equivalent of that every day from across the Vueling (VUZ) network.” (VUZ) was born into the Spanish domestic travel market at a time when
it was being revolutionized by the high speed train, and this was clearly a big influence on Cruz: “From a customer experience perspective at the station vs airport, the high speed train experience beat them every time (you could arrive at the station just a few minutes before your train, the security was not as onerous, and there was much more space.” Cruz agreed that the threat was largely structural and not related to all of Europe’s high speed rail providers and to only specific markets, but that high speed rail served as both a warning, as well as competitive example, and ultimately “a potential business opportunity through partnerships.” He also thought that, in response, one of the key areas of airport improvement would be centered on application of traveler technology and airport commercial offers.
“In terms of technology, in essence, they had what they needed; the industry was just not using it. If one arrives at an airport, and there had been delays, and one needed to find out which train to catch next and re-book, one would want to avoid multiple platforms, so there would be a single-entry point, and for one's customers, it was frankly thought that this would be the Vueling (VUZ) app and nobody else’s. For the first time (VUZ)'s Information Technology (IT) budget would then see much more spent on their mobile application than the web platform (they fully expected their app to develop into a tool covering the whole journey, including travel to and from the airport, and the airport experience itself.”
* Cruz on improving airport technology and shopping.
Cruz’s clear implication was that airports needed to cooperate more with airlines like his if they hoped to play any role at all: “We know everything about the passenger (when they fly, where they are going, and the booking tools they use, etc, etc. We all need to think outside of the box (connectivity is one thing) we have had that for some time. But then we had to find out which ideas would make money and recover the costs of the hardware and programing. To be honest I think we knew what we were doing at Vueling, we had the innovation (DNA).”
And while talking to "Airport Business" in the shadow of London Heathrow (arguably something of a ‘university’ in how to merchandise to passengers), Cruz was still critical of airport commercial enterprise on 2 key fronts: “He agreed that airports needed to do everything possible to maximize revenue, but every time he traveled, he was astonished that there was never anything to buy in the boarding gate where there was so much significant dwell time. This was such a missed opportunity. And, while he was talking of missed opportunities, airports had very patchy Wi-Fi and vastly differing models of supply.” But even those points are overwhelmed by his final message: “he had spoken to airports many times about working together with them to find structural ways in which they could jointly increase passenger spending. At that time, only small initiatives with individual airports seemed to work out, but he was still optimistic that further opportunities would be developed jointly in the near future.”
JAVIER SANCHEZ-PRIETO, CHAIRMAN & (CEO), EX-(IBE) (2016-02).
Javier would move into his new post from his previous role as Iberia’s (CFO). In his new role, he would report to (IAG) (CEO) Willie Walsh and joined (IAG)’s management committee.
“Javier had an excellent track record at Iberia (IBE) and had been instrumental in achieving the airline’s financial turnaround,” Walsh said. “I’m confident that he will continue the great progress that Vueling (VUZ) has made the airline has expanded profitably across Europe while remaining focused on keeping costs low. Javier will develop that strategy.”
Javier joined Iberia (IBE) in 2013, having previously been (CFO) at (IBE)’s low-cost arm, Iberia Express since its formation in 2012.
LARS NYGAARD, (CEO), EX-(SAS)/(SPP) (2007-11).
FERNANDO VAL, CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER (COO), (2012-05).
DAVID GARCIA BLANCAS, CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER (CCO), EX-(LOT) (2015-09).
David was formerly (CCO) of Poland’s (LOT) Airlines.
MICHAEL BATA, DEPUTY (COO).
JAVIER SUAREZ CASADO, DIRECTOR NETWORK PLANNING, SCHEDULING, SLOTS & CORPORATE AFFAIRS.
JULIO RODRIGUEZ, DIRECTOR NETWORK PLANNING, REVENUE MANAGEMENT & DISTRIBUTION (2012-05).
VICTOR BANARES, MARKETING DIRECTOR.
PERE FABREGAS, SAFETY MANAGER.
EDO FRIART, COUNTRY MANAGER, FRANCE.
ULLA SIEBKE, COUNTRY MANAGER, GERMANY, EX-(SAS) (2013-09).