African carrier Air Mauritius has put up five aircraft for sale on July 7th due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
This comes a few months after the airline has entered into administration as a result of the current crisis. With international travel demand looking sluggish for the foreseeable future, it appears that the airline is seeking to downsize.
Five aircraft up for sale
Air Mauritius put up a tender for the sale of aircraft on its website on July 7th. The tender closes on August 11th in the afternoon local time in Mauritius. As of now, five jets have been put up for sale– all of them Airbus aircraft. Here are the planes as Air Mauritius advertises:
• Two used A340-300 aircraft (MSN 194 and 268)
• One used A330-200 (MSN 1057)
• Two used A319-100s (MSN 1592 and 1936)
According to data from Planespotters, Air Mauritius currently has a fleet of 13 aircraft. This includes three ATR 72 turboprops, two A319-100s, two A330-200s, two A330-900neos, two A340-300s, and two A350-900s. In addition, South African Airways has leased two A350s from Air Mauritius, which are not included in the above count.
The future fleet
Essentially, the airline is looking to streamline its fleet. If the tenders are successful, Air Mauritius will be able to get rid of its aging and inefficient A340s. With the return of South African Airways’ A350s looking highly probable, the airline will not need all that capacity, and it makes sense to send the A340s packing.
The A330-200 would also help the carrier minimize excess capacity in the short-term.
Moving forward, the return of the A319s will likely lead to several routes in Africa being cut. Those planes traditionally fly to destinations like Nairobi, Durban, Dar-es-Salaam, Seychelles, and more. These regional destinations may no longer see service on Air Mauritius or else may end up seeing fewer weekly services on larger aircraft like the A330s.
It is unclear if Air Mauritius would examine another short-haul narrowbody aircraft for its fleet. Options could include A320neos, which are more fuel-efficient than the A319s and may end up being more profitable to operate on those routes. However, if before the crisis those routes were not turning a profit, then for the next few years, it is highly unlikely that Air Mauritius would be keen on flying there again when travel demand is at some of its lowest points in recent memory. Leading up to entering administration, the airline did have a shaky history.
Will the sale be successful?
Finding a home for used aircraft can be a daunting challenge depending on the type. Here are the ages of the planes with brief histories:
• MSN 194 (A340-300), 23-years-old, delivered new to Air Mauritius in 1997
• MSN 268 (A340-300), 21-years-old, delivered new to the airline in 1999
• MSN 1057 (A330-200) is an 11-year-old plane, delivered new to the carrier in 2009
• MSN 1592 (A319-100) is 19-years old, delivered to Air Mauritius in 2001
• MSN 1936 (A319-100) is 17 years old, delivered new to the airline in 2003
In a good market, finding a new home for the A330 and A319s would not be too difficult. Plenty of airlines have sought to expand narrowbodies, and, with the A320 family backlog, taking on a used A319 would be a much quicker option to grow capacity. The young age of the A330 makes it a great candidate for absorption into an existing A330 fleet. Fast-growing airlines like Turkish would have been ideal candidates for that jet.
The A340s are a little trickier. Airlines around the world are retiring the A340-300s. And, even new A340s are also starting to see their demise amid the current crisis. These planes would likely be the hardest to find a new home for– even during the best of times.