LOT Polish Airlines is interested in new aircraft models to renew its fleet, according to the European country’s media. Rafal Milczarski, the company’s CEO, said that the focus of future acquisitions will be on operational indicators and fuel savings.
Recently, the flag carrier sent bidding requests to manufacturers Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer. LOT inquired about regional aircraft (specifically the Airbus A220 and the Embraer E2) but also about the Airbus A320neo and A321neo, and the Boeing 737 MAX 9.
The company has been interested in modernizing its fleet for some time now. Last autumn, Maciej Wilk, LOT’s deputy CEO, stated that they were interested in acquiring at least fifty aircraft. At that time, the focus was on regional aircraft. However, now it is rumored that the interest would extend to long-range aircraft. According to unofficial information, future orders could reach eighty units.
According to Milczarski, the plans are “a manifestation of responsibility for sustainable development”. In this sense, the company has already started a renewal process. The Bombardier Q400s are being phased out and will cease to be part of the fleet by the end of this year. They will be replaced by Embraer 190 aircraft.
The executive said that they are currently thinking especially about alternatives for the regional aircraft fleet. “The Embraer aircraft are very successful, but their engine technology no longer meets our expectations in terms of fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness”, he said. On the other hand, he confirmed that the plans to replace the E190s are projected to be executed within five years.
The company currently operates 38 aircraft from the Brazilian manufacturer: six E170s, twelve E175s (including two at the disposal of the Polish government), five E190s and fifteen E195s.
Referring to the increase in fuel prices in recent months, Milczarski commented that if the increases continue, “then airline ticket prices will have to change as well”. Last year, IATA predicted that the price of jet fuel would hover around 70 dollars per barrel in 2022. Today, however, it is well over USD100. The current forecast is that the average price this year will be USD118 per barrel. “No airline in the world can subsidize transportation and fuel is a very important cost element”, Milczarski added.
In that context, many airlines hedge future supplies at a fixed price. This is a tool to avoid exchange rate fluctuations, both oil price and the dollar, the currency in which most transactions in the aviation sector are settled.
Fleet modernization is another tool for optimizing fuel consumption. LOT has already replaced Boeing 767s with 787 Dreamliners for transcontinental flights. In the short and medium-range market, it already operates the Boeing 737 MAX. According to the company, additional measures were also taken: thanks to changes in approach procedures and single-engine taxiing, fuel consumption was reduced by 7%.