Air Transport World

Austrian Airlines looking forward to challenges.

Austrian Airlines looking forward to challenges

Austrian Airlines stands on the threshold of a major equipment expansion, with Airbus A310s, McDonnell Douglas MD-87s and Fokker 50s due to join the fleet before long, and such a leap forward will inevitably produce big challenges, says Dr. Hubert Papousek, joint president (with Dr. Anton Heschgl). "But,' he told ATW, "we have a good feeling about it because the airline is in a very sound and properly managed position to solve problems like this.'

If profitability is any criterion, this is certainly the case. After some shaky years in the 1960s, Austrian can now boast of having been in the black for 16 successive fiscals, and the forecast from the airline's executive offices here is that, barring international political and economic crises, the current year looks like another good one.

Austrian originally ordered mediumrange A310-221s in 1980, but changed its specification to the long-range 322 in June 1986. It receives the first of two on order in 1988, the second in 1989 and will use them to fly long-range scheduled routes. At this writing the destinations had not been decided, but the operations department had completed 30 different route studies taking in points in the United States and the Far East. Austrian has ordered the ETOPS (extended-range twinengine operations) package on its A310s.

The first of four MD-87s are due to arrive later this year, with two more in 1990, while the first of two Fokker 50s is expected in early 1988, delayed from this spring by the hold-ups in the program experienced by the manufacturer in Holland. As a consequence, Austrian will hold on a little longer to its small fleet of Metro IIs which the Fokker 50s are being bought to replace. Fokker 50s will be used to expand the company's charter activities and also to widen its regional network within Europe.

McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32s are being phased out as the MD-87s come in, and so by the turn of the decade the fleet should consist of a dozen MD-80s, four MD-87s, two A310s and two Fokker 50s (plus seven small training aircraft), which is about the same size in numbers as the fleet today. Capacity, however, will have increased 30% to take care of natural traffic growth and the serving of new destinations. Austrian recently added Barcelona, Venice and Zagreb to its network.

We asked Dr. Papousek how big was the airline likely to grow? "A national airline should be in tune with the economy of its country, and I see a growth of about 5% a year for the future,' he said. "You have to remember that we as an airline were late on the European scene when we were formed in 1957 and by that time most of the routes were taken up. …

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