Less than a year after deferring deliveries of some of its firm-ordered A320neo Family aircraft, Greece's Aegean Airlines (A3, Athens Int'l) has agreed with the manufacturer to reschedule their delivery timeline again, but this time accelerating them.

"During last year, because of the dramatic effects of the pandemic, we renegotiated the stretching out of that order, basically reduced deliveries, especially for 2021-22, pushing deliveries back to 2023-24, and even added 2025-26 as a tail end. During this year, in the second quarter, as we gradually saw things recovering, we decided to take action together with Airbus primarily but also with some of the other parties and renegotiate the delivery profile, especially in 2022-23, with the intent of actually accelerating deliveries," Chairman Eftichios Vassilakis said during the carrier's quarterly earnings call.

According to the newly renegotiated delivery timeline, the airline will add just one new aircraft by the end of 2021, but 12 in 2022 and a further ten in 2023. In total, Aegean Airlines has outstanding orders for twenty A320-200Ns and eight A321-200NXs, the ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows.

The accelerated deliveries will cause the carrier to pay EUR100 million (USD117 million) in net pre-delivery payments to Airbus in the second half of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022.

"The message out of all this is that we've decided to go to a core of thirty A320neo aircraft as fast as we can," Vassilakis said.

Currently, the airline's fleet comprises five A320-200Ns and four A321-200NXs, as well as one A319-100, thirty-two A320-200s, and ten A321-200s.

Vassilakis also said that the carrier would focus more on building up its network out of Athens Int'l, its main hub. In 2020 and 2021, it moved some of its routes to island destinations as demand for direct flights was higher than for "urban" connections. While this trend persists, the demand for travel to Athens is also growing.

"The strategy is to re-strengthen Athens as we go forward due to two trends, whether it is Athens as a starting point for a vacation using a car or Athens as a connecting point to some of the smaller islands that don't have direct flights... You should expect Athens going forward to be a higher part of the overall activity of Aegean because the hub does work, and we need to retain that advantage against our competitors. And Heraklion and Thessaloniki will be the other two points where we would expect to see further growth," Vassilakis said.

Currently, 36.5% of all Aegean's scheduled departure seats are out of Athens Int'l. Heraklion and Thessaloniki have a 5.9% and a 5.2% share, respectively, the ch-aviation capacities module indicates.