Aircraft leasing is a key way of allowing airlines to operate their desired services without requiring the commitment of a fully-fledged aircraft purchase. The world of commercial aviation is full of lessors situated around the world, but did you know that manufacturers sometimes undertake this task directly? Here’s a look at Airbus’s 14 directly-leased jets.
Air Belgium operates three A340s that Airbus leases directly. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
Three Air Belgium A340s
According to data from ch-aviation.com, Airbus directly leases a total of 14 aircraft. It does so through its Airbus Financial Services division. Of these, seven are A340-300 quadjets. These planes have an average age of 15.5 years old, and three are currently in Air Belgium‘s fleet. Two began their careers at Finnair in 2007, with the third doing so in 2008.
Data from ch-aviation shows that, of these three A340-300s, two are presently active. OO-ABA is 14.48 years old, and joined Air Belgium in February 2018. Airbus leases the 265-seater to Air Belgium, which itself then wet leases it to Qatar Airways on an ACMI basis. Data from RadarBox.com shows that Qatar Airways regularly flies it between Brussels and Doha.
OO-ABB is the second of Air Belgium’s two active A340-300s that Airbus leases directly to the Belgian carrier. Much like its aforementioned counterpart, Air Belgium also wet leases this 14.34-year-old 265-seater, providing an aircraft, crew, maintenance, and insurance to Surinam Airways. This carrier typically deploys OO-ABB on its Amsterdam-Zandery route.
Air Belgium plans to replace two of its A340s with the A330neo. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
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The other A340s
Air Belgium’s third directly leased A340-300, OO-ABE, is presently in storage in Lourdes. However, its lease on the 257-seat quadjet doesn’t expire until 2023. Storage is also the state of affairs for the remaining four A340s that Airbus Financial Services directly leases.
Three of these aircraft are also stored in Lourdes. Meanwhile, the fourth, F-WTBE, is presently situated in Šiauliai, Lithuania. It seems that storage will only be a temporary measure for this 13.25-year-old 257-seater, as it is set to join Airhub Airlines under the registration 9H-HOP. Interestingly, this aircraft also previously flew for Air Belgium.
For the three Lourdes-based A340s, the future is less certain. Indeed, none of 9H-ACX, -ACY, and -ACZ presently appear to have a new carrier lined up. These 253-seat aircraft previously flew for South African Airways, before leaving the struggling carrier in June 2020.
Airbus Financial Services’ seven A318s are all ex-Avianca Brasil jets. Photo: Robert Underwood via Flickr
Seven stored A318s
Airbus Financial Services’ other seven aircraft are all examples of the A318 ‘Baby Bus.’ They are slightly younger than the A340s, with an average age of 13.5 years old. These narrowbodies are all former Avianca Brasil aircraft that began their careers at LAN Chile in the mid to late 2000s. All seven are presently in storage at the following locations.
PR-AVJ – Lourdes/Tarbes Pyrénées (LDE), France.
PR-AVK – Rio de Janeiro Santos Dumont (SDU), Brazil.
PR-OND – Lourdes.
PR-ONH – Sao Paulo Congonhas International (CGH), Brazil.
PR-ONP – Sao Paulo Guarulhos International (GRU).
PR-ONR – Brasilia Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek International (BSB), Brazil.
PR-ONO – São José dos Campos-Professor Urbano Ernesto Stumpf International (SJK), Brazil.
It will be interesting to see whether these rare aircraft will be granted a new lease of life elsewhere, as only two airlines presently operate scheduled A318 flights.
Did you know that Airbus directly leases a selection of jet aircraft? Perhaps you’ve even flown on one yourself? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.