Air Tanker are progressing bringing the RAF’s Voyagers into service and as can be sen from the images below have also offloaded fuel to French Rafale and US Navy F18’s
This is on top of continuing work with Tornado, Typhoon, Hercules and A400M and delivering in the air transport role.
The next stage is to recover costs and reduce overall cost to the by MoD by leasing unused, or surge, capacity to the civilian charter market.
From a recent Press Release
“It’s a blank piece of paper”, says Tony Carder, AirTanker Services’ new Director of Leasing, “we’re completely open minded about what shape the business takes, we can be as flexible as the market requires, short term, long term agreements, lease, sub service or charter, single class or multiple class configurations. We may not be unique in our capacity to deliver it but at present, it’s a unique proposition, with brand new aircraft and a product tailored to meet the customer’s requirements”.
As we discussed earlier in the year, the first of these lease customers is Thomas Cook, this quote from the Air Tanker press release;
AirTanker, the company behind the RAF Voyager (UK Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft) programme has agreed in principle a ground-breaking A330 civil leasing deal with Thomas Cook Airlines.
Under the terms of the three-year agreement, Thomas Cook Airlines will lease a single Airbus A330-200 from the AirTanker/FSTA ‘surge fleet”, to support long haul routes as part of its UK flying programme.
Flying under the new Thomas Cook Airlines livery, the aircraft will be operated by AirTanker under its civil Air Operator’s Certificate from May 2015 in support of scheduled routes from Glasgow, Manchester and Stansted to Las Vegas, Cancun and Orlando
This described how a single Voyager would be leased to Thomas Cook Airlines.
The latest press release seems to indicate a greater demand from Thomas Cook
Under the terms of the ground-breaking three-year deal, the first of these aircraft will be leased in a civil A330 set-up from May next year to Thomas Cook Airlines.
Delivered directly to AirTanker from Airbus, military equipment will be removed by AirTanker and the cabin will be reconfigured to a Thomas Cook Airlines 323 seat premium economy & economy class layout. The aircraft will be operated by AirTanker under its civil Air Operator’s Certificate, in support of scheduled routes from Glasgow, Manchester and Stansted to Las Vegas, Cancun and Orlando.
I have often wondered where the risk lies in this arrangement, what happens if the forecast leasing revenue does not materialise, does the MoD have to fill in the funding gap, or is it Air Tanker’s risk?
Anyway, off to Cancun, just remember that some hairy arse Sapper, Gunner, Craftsman, Rifleman or god forbid, a Cavalry or Royal Navy Officer may well have sat in your seat.