Austrian to phase out Dash-8, gets A320’s as competition mounts

Austrian Airlines was told by the Lufthansa Group that it wouldn’t get brand new aircraft until it met its financial goals with the ones it had, but it wasn’t barred from disposing of existing ones and replacing them with pre-owned.

The airline has decided its Dash-8’s are now no longer suitable and it will phase them out by 2021, and its been allowed to lease in a number of used aircraft to replace them.

The first six of sixteen A320’s are due in August followed by ten more out to 2021.

Three of the Dash-8 will be disposed of by year end, with nine more in 2020 and the final six in 2021.

All of the first six A320’s are expected to be in service by December after refurbishment to Austrian livery and interiors.

The airline has also bought two more used A320’s from ACD Aviation, for delivery in 2020.

Austrian is facing a vastly more competitive market at its main base in Vienna and the key leisure destination of Salzburg.

With IAG’s Level, RyanAir’s LaudaAir, easyJet, and it’s own group competition in Eurowings all operating out of Vienna as a main base, they’ve gone from a quiet backwater largely ignored by competitors to being in the frontline.

Dash-8’s lack capacity and are far from being a customer favourite. Noisy, cramped and well below the standards of even a basic elderly A320, they make Austrian look second rate against all the shiny new low cost A320’s from the other airlines.

Their ability to get into some of the smaller regional alpine airports in winter was much prized, but navigation and control system upgrades on aircraft and at airports has rendered those concerns obsolete.

The Salzburg market (the tiny city is a World Heritage site with an amazing hill top fortress, two cathedrals and was Mozart’s birth place, the site of “The Sound of Music”, and has access to the Berchtesgaden salt mines and Hitler’s “Eagles Nest” – it’s also stunningly picturesque), has geared up in summer almost as much as the winter ski season, with a new upgraded runway and control system. That and the boom in tourism from direct flights all year round has forced Austrian to compete more aggressively.