Ural Airlines’ all-Airbus fleet grows to 45 aircraft

Russia’s carrier leased another Airbus A321 The Airbus A321-200 (registration number VP-BIH) is powered by CFM56-5B3 engines:: Ural Airlines

Gearing up for a busy summer season, Yekaterinburg-based Ural Airlines has continued to increase its all-Airbus fleet, with three more expected to join by July.

The first of the latest batch, a seven-year-old Airbus A321-200 taken on operational lease from Avolon, arrived on April 19 and became the 45th A320-family aircraft in its fleet. Two more narrow-bodies are expected to be delivered in the next two months.

The latest aircraft (tail number VP-BIH, MSN 4728) was previously operated by Germany’s Air Berlin and its Austrian sister airline Niki. The CFM56-5B-powered aircraft has a single-class layout seating 220 passengers in economy class and is planned to be used both on international and domestic flights.

By July, the peak month of the year, Ural plans to operate 47 aircraft to ensure smooth operations across its expanding route network.

A shortage of secondary market aircraft which meet the airline’s required technical specifications means that Ural Airlines will not be able to expand its fleet to 50 aircraft this year, as announced just a few months ago. According to the revised plans, Ural expects to transport 9.2 million passengers in 2018, up 15 per cent year-on-year, slightly less than 10 million originally envisioned.

To achieve this target, the carrier is banking on the development of its route network inside Russia, whilst also strengthening its Moscow presence by adding more flights out of Sheremetyevo (SVO) airport as well as basing three aircraft at Zhukovsky (ZIA) airport.

The Yekaterinburg-based carrier, which is ranked as the country’s fourth largest in terms of passenger numbers, is the only Russian airline whose fleet consists entirely of Airbus narrow-bodies: 24 A320s, 14 A321s and seven A319s.

The airline is both a loyal and effective Airbus operator, as identified by the European planemaker when it declared Ural as the leading A320 aircraft family operator in Russia for two consecutive years, with an average daily utilization rate of 12.71 hours per unit in 2017.

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