On July 25th, an Airbus A321neo initially ordered by Russian carrier S7 was officially delivered to Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris. The delivery demonstrates the ongoing process of international airlines scooping up aircraft initially ordered by Russian airlines. Of course, sanctions against Russia have prevented Airbus or aircraft lessors from fulfilling those original orders. Let’s take a look at this aircraft delivery and why it was delivered to the Czech Republic.
Aircraft delivery and flight details
AIB Family Flights notes that the Airbus A321neo was first spotted at Airbus’ Hamburg facilities as early as November 2021. However, the jet wasn’t spotted again until mid-March 2022, when it was conducting a series of taxi checks and rejected take- offs. This abnormally long gap would seem to indicate that things were put on hold due to the invasion of Ukraine that took place at the end of February. Indeed, other A321neos being assembled might be first spotted one month and be delivered one or two months later.
The aircraft in question had MSN 10809 and test registration D-AZWZ, but was eventually re-assigned with registration F-WXAZ. This jet took its first flight on April 6th and had completed a total of three test flights with a cumulative test flight time of just under five hours. The delivery flight on July 25th took it from Hamburg Finkenwerder (XFW) to the Czech city of Ostrava (OSR). Since its delivery flight, the aircraft has remained on the ground in Ostrava.
ch-aviation.com data indicates that this aircraft is owned by SMBC Aviation Capital and its powered by a pair of PW1000 engines.
The aircraft was delivered to Ostrava in the Czech Republic. Photo: FlightRadar24.com
It’s unclear why the aircraft was delivered to Ostrava rather than a lengthy multi-hop ferry service to Mexico. Without having any official word from the airline or Airbus, our guess would be the painting facilities located at the airport. Indeed, Ostrava airport is home to International Aerospace Coatings (IAC). Operating since 2003, IAC’s facility at the airport was built as a painting facility rather than being converted and claims to be “one of the most advanced facilities in Europe, if not the world.” The company’s website notes that each of its two bays can take up to one A321, giving a total capacity of two A321s at a time.
Repainting would definitely fit the story for this aircraft. With each commercial aircraft purpose-built for a specific customer, jets are typically painted in their full colors early on in the process. Thus, with the jet no longer deliverable to S7, it would naturally need to be repainted from its lively lime-green color scheme to Volaris’ simpler black and white livery.
It’s not Turkish Airlines?
While there aren’t any rules on which airline can pick up a “white tail” aircraft (aside from needing to be non-Russian), we’ve been seeing Turkish Airlines (and its subsidiary carriers) take up the aircraft made undeliverable to Russia. Indeed, the carrier adopted a number of Airbus A350-900s meant for Aeroflot, as well as another A321neo originally ordered by S7. Turkish also picked up five 737 MAX 8s also initially destined for S7. These narrowbody Boeings were sent to the airline’s regional subsidiary, AnadoluJet.
With leasing companies (who own the aircraft) likely keen to offload the Russian-ordered jets quickly, airlines like Turkish and Volaris are benefitting from instantly-available planes, perhaps at a good price.
Sources: AIB Family Flights, FlightRadar24.com, ch-aviation.com, International Aerospace Coatings