Austrian Airlines (OS, Vienna) has announced its new multi-year strategy, #DriveTo25, which will see growth in its fleet of narrowbody jets at the expense of its Dash 8-400 turboprops whose phase-out will now be accelerated.

"We will invest more than EUR200 million euros (USD228 million) in the expansion of our continental fleet and thus be able to significantly strengthen our position in Vienna," newly appointed chief executive Alexis von Hoensbroech said in a statement.

The carrier plans to grow its fleet of narrowbody jets from the current 36 to 46 within the next year. At present, the Austrian flag carrier operates seven A319-100s, twenty-three A320-200s, three A321-100s, and three A321-200s, the ch-aviation fleets module shows. At the same time, all eighteen Bombardier turboprops will be retired by 2021 at the latest.

"The routes deploying Dash turboprops will be served by Embraer (EMB, São José dos Campos) aircraft in the future, and Airbus planes will be operated on routes currently served by the Embraer," the airline said.

Austrian Airlines does not currently have any fixed plans regarding the replacement of six B767-300(ER)s and six B777-200(ER)s, although it said that the modernisation of the widebody fleet will be a "subsequent step".

Austrian Airlines owns the majority of its aircraft, including all Q400s and all narrowbodies except for seven A320-200s that are dry-leased. It also operates seventeen E195LRs.

The carrier will also restructure its network. All flights currently operated by Austrian from regional airports to Germany will be eventually handed over to Lufthansa (LH, Frankfurt Int'l) and Eurowings (EW, Düsseldorf Int'l). The Austrian carrier will instead focus on its operations from Vienna, where it faces growing low-cost competition from LaudaMotion, Anisec Luftfahrt, and Wizz Air.

"It is much easier for Lufthansa to fly from its (centralized) flight hub in Frankfurt Int'l than vice versa. We are already holding talks with our sister companies in the Lufthansa Group," it added.

According to the ch-aviation capacity module, Austrian's decentralised network currently encompasses operations from Innsbruck, Salzburg, and Graz to Frankfurt; from Graz and Linz to Düsseldorf Int'l, and from Graz to Stuttgart Echterdingen.

Consequently, the carrier will close its crew bases at all regional airports, including Altenrhein in Switzerland and Klagenfurt in Austria. Around 200 staff currently stationed at these airports will be offered jobs in Vienna. The domestic network will, for now, not be affected by the changes.

Austrian also confirmed that it will end all operations on behalf of Swiss (LX, Zurich) at the end of the Winter 2018/19 season. It currently wet-leases four Dash 8-400s to the fellow group member.