For more than a decade, a now well-known marmot has been greeting at regular intervals: What's next for the long-haul fleet of Austrian Airlines? There have been many rumours, and vague announcements have been and continue to be made by current and former board members. Nothing has happened in terms of renewal so far.
Shortly after the start of the corona pandemic, the then AUA management decided to downsize the long-haul fleet. Three Boeing 767-300ER, which came from the stocks of the former Lauda Air, were phased out. This reduced the average age cosmetically, but at the same time reduced the capacity.
For example, while the sister company Swiss has received brand-new Boeing 777s in recent years and it was only announced a few days ago that five Airbus A350-900s would also be obtained from a Lufthansa order, there were no comparable announcements on the part of AUA. Although there were rumors that four Dreamliners could be brought into the fleet, these were denied by the company itself. Completely independent of this, this speculation keeps coming up.
The fact that AUA's long-haul fleet is aging and taking into account the fact that the delivery times for new aircraft can be several years, is repeatedly concealed in communication by Austrian Airlines. So it is not at all surprising that a company spokeswoman argues that the machines can be used for 30 years and emphasizes the "high reliability".
At the same time, however, no questions asked about a possible fleet renewal on long-haul routes were answered. In particular, AUA did not comment on the fact that Swiss, for example, regularly receives new aircraft and nothing happened at AUA. In addition, in 2017 it was agreed with the then federal government that the long-haul fleet would be renewed and in return the ticket tax would be halved. Austria delivered, but the Lufthansa Group did not. The announcements made by the then Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) in connection with the “non-repayable state aid” in the amount of 150 million euros were not followed by any action.
Only one long-distance machine less than 20 years old
The current state of affairs is therefore unchanged. At Austrian Airlines there are still no concrete plans to renew the long-haul fleet, which only has one fleet member who is younger than 20 years old. It is emphasized that the matter will be tackled in the current decade. A spokeswoman said on request, among other things: “It is absolutely normal for long-haul aircraft to be in use for up to 30 years. Our aircraft are excellently maintained and have a high level of reliability. We are of course in constant contact with the Lufthansa fleet management and a planned rollover of long-haul routes will take place before the end of this decade. Austrian Airlines is and will remain the Austrian network airline, with a long-haul network". Details were not given despite specific questions.
In general, the media officer also explained: “We are pleased about the current growth in the short and medium-haul fleet. With a total of four new A320neos, which we will be bringing into service by spring 2023, our fleet will be equipped with the latest aircraft. This increases the existing fleet to a total of 65 aircraft. In addition, the Premium Economy Class, which is in high demand, is currently being expanded on our B777 fleet in order to offer our guests additional comfort on the existing long-haul fleet".