Cubana leasing Airbus aircraft
CUBA STANDARD — Apparently filling gaps left by its Russia-only aircraft
purchasing strategy, flag carrier Cubana de Aviación has recently been
leasing three Airbus aircraft from a European company.
It isn’t clear whether the leases are still ongoing. In April and July,
Cubana took delivery of two Russian-made short-haul jets used on a
domestic route that had been covered by one of the leased Airbus jets.
Neither Lithuania-based Avion Express nor Cubana responded to requests
for information from Cuba Standard.
In 2012, Cubana leased two Airbus A320-212 and an A319-112 from Avion
Express, a wet-lease company formerly known as Nordic Solutions Air
Services. Wet leases are short term arrangements usually between one
month and two years, under which the lessor provides the aircraft and
crews; the lessee pays by the hour of operation, providing fuel and
paying airport fees and taxes.
Cubana has used the Airbus aircraft on both domestic and international
routes. The carrier has operated one of the A320 on the twice-daily
shuttle route between Havana and Santiago. Another A320 is used on the
Havana-Montreal and Havana-Cancún-Mexico City routes.
The only announcement about the Avion Express-Cubana deal came from the
Lithuanian company that trains Avion Express pilots for Cubana on an
Airbus flight simulator in Vilnius.
“As the Cuba aviation market currently is in a developing process and is
aiming to raise [the level of] safety regulations, [Cubana has] to
define clear strategies to optimize productivity,” Baltic Aviation
Academy said in a press release.
Cubana’s fleet of 12 is heavy on late-model Ilyushin and Tupolevs from
Russia, thanks to a strategy implemented since 2004 under which it has
taken delivery of nine new aircraft. The Russian purchasing program was
scheduled to be completed in 2012.
Even though the Russian government has been guaranteeing and guiding
Cuba’s aircraft purchases, the going has not always been easy. In 2009,
Flight International magazine reported that Cuba rejected delivery of
one of three Tu-204 ordered in 2007. Cubana de Aviación did not take the
Tu-204-100CE cargo aircraft after Russia’s Vneshtorgbank attempted to
charge it a higher interest rate than the agreed 8 percent.
Cuba went through a pronounced cash crunch in 2008-10, during which it
froze hard-currency accounts and rescheduled debt agreements.
In February this year, Russia agreed to convert the previous purchase of
five long-haul jets into a leasing deal. Russia is now leasing three
previously delivered Ilyushin-96-400 long-haul jets and two Tu-204SM
mid-range aircraft to Cuba through Cyprus-based South American Aircraft
Leasing Co.; two more Tu-204 jets delivered to Cubana are apparently
owned by Cuba. Most recently, Cubana took delivery of one An-158
short-haul jet each in April and July this year, with a third one
scheduled later this year; all An-158 jets are leased from South
American Aircraft Leasing Co.
Source: “Cubana leasing Airbus aircraft « Cuba Standard, your best
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