A Short History Of Spanish Airline Volotea

Founded in 2011 by Carlos Muñoz and Lazaro Ross, the men who founded Barcelona-based Vueling Airlines, Volutia is a Spanish low-cost airline focused on underserved European cities. Derived from the Spanish verb “revolotear” meaning “to fly around,” Volotea began life with a chartered fleet of Boeing 717-200 aircraft. After first looking at the Bombardier CRJ1000 and Embraer E-195, Volutia went with the Boeing 717 after Southwest Airlines acquired AirTran and replaced its 717 fleet.

Volutia focuses on medium-sized European cities. Photo: Volutia

With a 3+2 seat configuration, the Boeing 717-200 is a derivative of the McDonnell Douglas MD-95 that can carry up to 134 passengers. At the time, Volutia saw the aircraft and its two aft-mounted Rolls-Royce BR715 turboprops as the ideal aircraft for its short-term European operations. Focusing not only on the Spanish domestic markets, Volutia’s first flight took off from Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE) on April 5, 2012. During its first year of operations, Volotea flew 90 routes, nearly half of which were grounded within two years.

Volutia focuses on medium-sized European cities

Focusing on underserved mid-sized European capitals, Volotea serves more than 100 cities in 16 countries, including four in North African countries Algeria and Morocco. During the 2017-18 Spanish constitutional crisis in which some people called for Catalonia’s independence from Spain, Volutia voluntarily moved its headquarters from Barcelona to Asturias Airport (OVD) in northwestern Spain.

Volotea B717 Jetty
Volutia retired the last Boeing 717 in January 2021. Photo: Getty Images

By keeping its fares comparable to other low-cost European airlines, Volotea has been able to grow at a sustainable rate and currently operates from the following European airports:

  • Asturias Airport (OVD)
  • Athens International Airport (ATH)
  • Bilbao Airport (BIO)
  • Bordeaux Airport (BOD)
  • Cagliari Elmas Airport (CAG)
  • Genoa Christopher Columbus Airport (GOA)
  • Hamburg Airport (HAM)
  • Lyon-Saint-Exupéry Airport (LYS)
  • Marseille Provence Airport (MRS)
  • Nantes Atlantic Airport (NTE)
  • Naples International Airport (NAP)
  • Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport (OLB)
  • Palermo Falcon Borsellino Airport (PMO)
  • Strasbourg Airport (SXB)
  • Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (TLS)
  • Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE)
  • Verona Villafranca Airport (VRN)

Volutia decided to become an all-Airbus airline

With its business plan growing as expected, Volutia decided that the 125-seat Boeing 717 was not large enough for future demand and decided to switch to the Airbus A319-100. In March 2016, Volutia took delivery of the first 150 seats of the Airbus A310-100 which increased its capacity by 20% over the Boeing 717. At the time, Volutia was already committed to becoming an all-Airbus airline as it gradually retired the Boeing 717s.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began to wipe out the airline industry, Volotea was in a better position than others because it provided links between European cities that other companies had not served. Taking advantage of the situation and acquiring used aircraft at a reasonable price, Volotea began looking at the Airbus A320 as the way forward. By incorporating the Airbus A320 into its fleet, Volutia will once again increase capacity by another 15%. When talking about why she wants to become an all-Airbus airline, Volutia said it would benefit the airline in the following ways:

  • Single pilot license
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • More environmentally friendly
  • Reduce the impact of noise on the city you work in

Volutia sees Airbus as a long-term partner

Speaking about the move to become an all-Airbus airline, founder and CEO of Volotea Carlos Muñoz said in the company’s 2021 statement:

“We are very proud to be moving towards a 100% Airbus fleet. As a European company, we are very keen to count on Airbus as our long-term fleet partner. We will continue to grow in our strategy to connect medium and small European cities with a more modern and competitive aircraft type, the Airbus A320, whose operating costs are lower. By 20-25% over the previous B717 aircraft it replaces.This increased competitiveness will be absolutely necessary in the post-COVID environment, which could mean lower demand in the coming years.This change will also help us be in a better position to take advantage of significant new opportunities. In the future, such as those created in Spain through the acquisition of Air Europa by Iberia and in France through the restructuring of the regional market in France.”

Volutia cabin crew
Volotea is a Spanish LCC. Photo: Volutia

With Volutia retiring the last Boeing 717 in January 2021, the current fleet consists of 20 Airbus A310-100s and 20 Airbus A320-200s.

Have you ever traveled with Volotea? If so, please let us know what you think in the comments.

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