Aigle Azur (ZI, Paris Orly) President Frantz Yvelin has mapped out the company's growth plan following US aviation entrepreneur David Neeleman's accession to the carrier's shareholding late last year.

France's second-largest carrier currently operates one A319-100 (wet-leased to TAP Air Portugal) and nine A320-200s (of which one is wet-leased to TAP) on scheduled flights from cities across France to 10 countries including Algeria, Mali, Germany, Russia, Portugal, Lebanon, and Tunisia.

During a press conference in Paris on March 29, Yvelin said the carrier would restructure its European medium-haul network aiming to improve traffic flows. As such, it will seek to open a new Paris Orly-Milan Malpensa daily flight from September 2018, while its Paris Orly-Berlin Tegel route would grow to daily.

In terms of longhaul operations, Aigle Azur will use its maiden widebody jets - A330-200s F-HTIC (msn 444) and F-HTAC (msn 493) - to open up new longhaul services.

Effective June 21, Aigle Azur will start 3x weekly flights from Orly to Beijing Capital, China, to be followed by a 3x weekly Orly-Sao Paulo Viracopos, Brazil, service on July 5. The Brazilian service, Aigle Azur's first to South America, will graduate to 5x weekly in September.

Aigle Azur will tap synergies with HNA Group (a 48% shareholder) unit Hainan Airlines (HU, Haikou) and Brazilian carrier Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras (AD, Sao Paulo Viracopos), in which Neeleman has a substantial stake, to foster the two routes' development.

"The development of this new long-haul network is one of the pillars of the new strategic plan outlined for Aigle Azur by Frantz Yvelin and, therefore, a priority for its shareholders," the carrier said.

The A330s will also be used to bolster capacity on flights to Bamako, Mali, and to reinforce Porto, Algiers, and Oran Ahmed Ben Bella during the summertime.

In tandem with its cooperation with Hainan Airlines and Azul, Aigle Azur will also form a commercial and strategic partnership with another prominent Orly operator and French Caribbean specialist, Air Caraibes (TX, Pointe à Pitre).