Condor rolls over its fleet

Within the next two years, Frankfurt-based leisure carrier Condor intends to take their entire fleet of Boeing 757 out of service. Currently, nine out of eleven of this aging Boeing variant are still operated by the airline. The last B57 will be retired in 2025.

On closer examination, Condor’s fleet decision is another blow for Boeing. Instead of ordering new models from the U.S. frame maker, such as the B737 MAX for medium-haul operations, the carrier placed orders for Airbus variants. These include 28 A321neo and 13 A320neo aircraft. They will replace aging models of the A320 and A321. Some of the 41 new Airbus aircraft ordered by Condor will be leased from the  Los Angeles-based lessor Air Lease Corporation (ALC).

A330 replaces B767
In addition to the B757, Condor is also gradually phasing out its long-haul B767 fleet, even before retiring the smaller Boeing sister 757. The fleet renewal will be completed by spring this year. Here too, Airbus is ahead of the game. This is because the B767s will be replaced by 21 A330neo.

The A330s order was placed by Condor already in summer 2021, with the long-haul aircraft to be delivered successively from end of 2022 onwards.

The A330 decision in particular is music to the ears of Condor Head of Air Freight, Thilo Schäfer and his team. This is because the A330-900 is a very cargo-friendly aircraft. Besides the given 6 standard pallet positions in its forward cargo compartment additional pallet and/or container positions are available depending on passenger luggage. Thanks to this capacity, it almost resembles a small freighter. But in comparison, the Boeing B787 “Dreamliner” offers similar space for transporting cargo in its lower deck compartments.

“The A330neo is a very cargo friendly passenger aircraft,” lauds Head of Air Freight, Thilo Schäfer – photo: courtesy Condor Flugdienst

Commonality is Airbus’ USP
This said, the decisive criteria for Condor’s management when placing the order were that the A330neo offers a lot of flexibility thanks to its commonality with other Airbus variants. This reduces maintenance costs and allows easier provision of spare parts – one of Airbus’ key selling points.

“We are particularly delighted that our new offering to business destinations such as New York, Los Angeles or Toronto is highly appreciated by our cargo customers,” says cargo manager Thilo Schäfer. “Especially on these routes cargo demand is rather strong and non-stop operations put Condor in a much stronger competitive position. In addition, Condor’s new long-haul fleet provides for an extension of services, starting with but not limited to temperature sensitive perishables, e.g. from South Africa.”

Thilo Schaefer heads Condor Cargo since 01NOV23 – photo: credit Condor

Record orders
Over to Airbus again. The European frame maker delivered a total of 735 aircraft to 87 customers in 2023. That is 203 more than arch-rival Boeing, which reported 528 deliveries. This continues a streak, as Airbus has now produced more aircraft than its U.S. competitor Boeing for five years in a row.

Airbus is also ahead in terms of orders. Airlines placed firm orders for a total of 2094 jetliners in 2023, while Boeing received orders for 1314 aircraft. A difference of 780 sales.

And potential new Boeing customers might be driven away after an Alaska Airlines flight was forced to conduct an emergency landing in early January caused by a cabin panel blowout on a brand-new B737 MAX 9 aircraft. Following this incident, the U.S. regulator FAA grounded a number of MAX 9 for safety checks. Positive news sound differently.

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