London-Stansted based Titan Airways has entered into service an all business class, 32-seat Airbus A318. The aircraft will be promoted to tour operators, music groups, sports teams and government officials.
The company already flies three A320s and an A321, and will be able to use existing crew on the new type. “We expect that the majority of trips on the A318 will not be very crew intensive,” says commercial director Alex Harrington. “By combining the usual work of the A320s and A321s with the variation we are expecting on the A318, our crew will have a great mix of work and this is something we believe will be attractive to candidates when we are recruiting.”
The aircraft's first trip was an ad hoc charter from Europe to the Middle East for a royal family. “We only had 16 passengers on board but we paid a lot of attention to our level of cabin service and it worked really well,” adds Harrington. “We were very happy with the feedback we got from the client on both the aircraft and our service, which gives us confidence going forward.”
The A318 has a six-and-a-half hour range, is cleared for ETOPS 180, and in due course the operator will seek London City approval. The seating in the cabin is the same for all passengers, with no differentiating zones, a configuration that Harrington believes will appeal to European clients.
“From a business point of view, getting music tour or high end tour operator work where you have 15 to 30-day trips is ideal, however the ad hoc charter market is also very important to us as you always use these trips to fill the gaps. I think we will be pleasantly surprised by the kinds of bookings we are going to take.”
His overarching strategy is to expand the Airbus fleet in the future and keep an eye on the widebody market. “However we are an opportunistic company and ready to take chances when they occur if we believe they make sense to our business,” he explains. “Charter is a big part of what we do. The strength of Titan over the last 29 years is not being overly exposed to one specific market as all markets are cyclical; even though the A320s and A321 are mainly geared towards lease work, the A318 we expect will be a dedicated charter unit either on long term charter or go-now VIP.”