UPDATE – German leisure airline Condor has selected the Airbus A330neo as the replacement for its aging Boeing 767-fleet. Condor will purchase sixteen A330-900s, of which nine will be leased. The Supervisory Board approved the fleet renewal plan on July 28. The order is a welcome new customer for the type, which has encountered various headwinds until now.
Condor expects the first A330-900 in the autumn of 2022 and will complete the renewal of the long-haul fleet by mid-2024. The aircraft features prominently on its website and is advertised as the ‘2.0-liter aircraft’ as it burns 2.1 liters per 100 kilometers per passenger, thanks to the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000s and improved aerodynamics.
“We are introducing the two-liter aircraft into our operations and will be setting new standards: with our modern long-haul fleet, we will inseparably combine sustainability and holidays with Condor in the future. Onboard the quietest cabin in the world on an aircraft of this size, our guests can also expect the highest level of comfort in a brand new Business, Premium Economy and Economy Class”, says CEO Ralf Teckentrup says in a press release. It doesn’t say if Condor will order the AirSpace cabin.
The seven A330-900s that Condor will purchase directly from Airbus are most likely aircraft that were previously ordered by AirAsia X, reports Swiss website AeroTELEGRAPH. The Malaysian airline has orders for 78 A330-900s, with two more already leased to AirAsia X in Thailand. As part of a deep restructuring plan to rescue the airline, AirAsia X intends to cancel 61 A330neo orders. Placing them with Condor would be a welcome solution for Airbus. However, during the HY1-results presentation on July 29, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said that the seven for Condor will be “fresh” aircraft.
For the lease of the remaining nine aircraft, Condor has plenty of options to turn to lessors. Air Lease Corporation (ALC), Avolon, AerCap/GECAS, and CIT Leasing all have ordered the A330-900.
The fifteen 767-300ERs have been with Condor since their deliveries between 2004 and 2016, but the aircraft are actually much older. The oldest was built in July 1991, the newest in May 2001. They used to operate under the Thomas Cook brand until the airline went bankrupt in September 2019. Thanks to a €380 million bridging loan from the government of Hessen and the German federal government, Condor survived. It was set to be purchased by LOT Polish Airlines in January 2020, but the state-owned airline withdrew its offer as the industry was hit by the effects of the Covid-crisis.
Attestor take over received final approval yesterday
In April last year, the airline was bailed out again by the Hessen and federal governments, this time with a fresh loan of €294 million and €256 million to restructuring the previous bridging loan from KfW. Condor kept looking for a new owner and found itself one last May when asset manager Attestor announced its intention to purchase 51 percent of the shares. SG Luftfahrtgesellschaft, which represents the state of Hessen and the federal government, owns the remaining 49 percent.
Part of the agreement with Attestor is that it will invest €200 million in equity capital that will be partly used for restructuring its loans, plus another €250 million for fleet renewal. All 4.050 jobs at Condor and Condor Technik, its own dedicated MRO subsidiary, were part of the purchase agreement.
Condor Technik maintains the fleet of the leisure airline. The A320s are on average 20.1 years. (Condor)
In a case at the European Union Central Court in June, Ryanair successfully appealed against the state aid. The Court annulled the approval by the European Commission as it “contains an inadequate statement of reasons as regards the direct causal link between the costs occasioned by the extension of the insolvency period and the cancellation and rescheduling of Condor’s flights as a result of the travel restrictions imposed in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
After reviewing the case, the EC in a new decision taken on July 27 has approved €525.3 million in state aid as compensation for damages that Condor has suffered from the Covid-crisis. The Commission also ruled that the takeover by Attestor complied with EU anti-trust regulations. So one day after the approval, Condor has gone shopping in Toulouse.
“Now that anti-trust and state-aid approval has been issued, Condor can apply all of its energies again to flying into a successful future. We at Attestor are very pleased to accompany a proud airline like Condor on this journey”, said Attestor’s Friedrich Andreae. “This is why we are investing significantly in the company. By doing so, we are laying the foundation for Condor to establish itself as a strong second carrier in the important German domestic market and as a leading leisure airline in Europe.”
Now Condor has selected the A330-900 for its fleet renewal, this leaves the short and medium-haul for another time. Condor has 22 A320/A321’s and 13 Boeing 757-300s that also need replacement. The 757’s are on average 22.1 years old, the Airbus A320s over 20 years.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.