How much does this plane cost?

Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger Conde de Saint-Exupéry was an outstanding humanist. His early calling was as a seaman and architect. He also invented about ten technical devices, sold trucks, wrote poetry, published a dozen or so books and was a celebrated air force pilot and civil aviator. He started flying in 1921 and was commissioned five years later by the Latécoère company to fly the airmail service between France and Morocco. This initially involved stopovers at several Spanish aerodromes and the service was subsequently extended to southern Africa and even South America.

It was during this period that he embarked on his first literary works – “The Aviator”, “Southern Mail” and “Night Flight”. These highly accomplished writings went beyond aviation per se, revealing the profound humanistic bearing of a pilot and writer who died at the age of 44 and practically missed out on the huge success of his best known work, “The Little Prince”. It was published in 1943 in the United States, prior to its release in France in 1946, two years after his death.


Saint-Exupéry never lived to see the resounding success of this novella, which is still a hit today – this year it was the most widely translated non-religious work in the world and can be read in 300 languages. It is the story of an aviator – the author himself – marooned in the desert, and his conversations with a little prince who turns up out of the blue.


In chapter four of this story, we read:


If you say to grown-ups: “I saw a lovely red brick house, with geraniums in the windows and doves on the roof”, they are unable to picture such a house. You must say: “I saw a house that cost a hundred thousand francs”. Then they would exclaim: “What a pretty house!”



So, what brings us to this point in the Vueling News story? Well, a question that keeps cropping up. You can talk about winglets, an aircraft’s technical capability, the shape of its windows, its lighting or communication systems. Or the number of passengers and crew members on each plane, the amount of fuel it holds in its tanks or how many hours it can stay airborne. Data, stats and unusual facts about aircraft, although all this often ends up prompting a very straightforward question:

“That’s all very well and good but, tell me – how much does this plane cost?”.

Well, like any supplier of a product or service, manufacturers such as Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, ATR and Embraer publish the list prices of their aircraft every year. But, to avoid turning this article into one long, drawn-out list, let’s limit the figures to the aircraft operated by Vueling, namely three models in the A320 family.

According to the figures for this financial year, an Airbus A319 costs 76.8 million euros, an Airbus A320, 84 million, and an A321, which is currently the largest aircraft in the fleet, costs 98.5 million euros.

Recent years have seen a technical evolution in these three models known as “Neo”, with new engines, reduced consumption and major improvements in avionics. The airline has ordered 47 units of this evolution, which come at a higher price – the A319neo costs 84.5 million euros, the A320neo goes for 92 million and the A321 fetches over 100 million euros – specifically, 108.

A cautionary word – these are reference prices and the final sales price will depend on the equipment ordered and, above all, the negotiations between manufacturer and the airline or leasing company. It stands to reason that purchasing just a few units of an aircraft model is not the same as placing a large order with the European manufacturer.

Incidentally, returning to Saint-Exupéry, one of the destination airports which Vueling operates from Barcelona, Palma, Seville, Málaga and Rome brings back memories of the aviator – Lyon, an airport which for 25 years, starting from 1975, was named Satolas, while in 2000, coinciding with the centenary of the birth of the author of The Little Prince, it was rechristened with his name.


Javier Ortega Figueiral (@Sr_JOF)

3 August, 2017


We inform of an indefinite strike of the security control’s staff at Barcelona – El Prat airport. We recommend you to go to the airport earlier than usual for check-in and board with enough time . We remind you the boarding gate closes 20 minutes before departure.

Hondarribia – the Bidasoa Aircraft Carrier








“Un Vueling, s’il vous plait” (“A Vueling, please”) was the name of Vueling’s first Airbus A319 (licence number EC-JXJ), which landed at Hondarribia airport on 30 March 2012. Ever since, the company has maintained the Barcelona-San Sebastián-Barcelona flight uninterruptedly, a route which last year recorded 91,543 passengers on 854 flights.

The Aena-managed airport, which serves San Sebastián-Donostia and the whole province of Guipúzcoa, is one of three in the Basque Country: Bilbao-Loiu, the main airport on the Cantabrian seaboard, with 4.5 million passengers a year, Vitoria-Gasteiz, one of Spain’s major air freight hubs, and Hondarribia, the closest thing to a boutique-airport, which last year chalked up just over 260,000 passengers.


When Vueling arrived in San Sebastián, the airport had been open to air traffic for 57 years. It is sited in the middle of the river Bidasoa river estuary, an area with ties to aviation since the early 20th century when a number of tests were conducted to set up an aerodrome there in 1919. However, the first person to land in the area was the legendary Roland Garros, the aviator after whom the famous Paris-based French Open tennis tournament is named. Garros had no intention of touching down at this location when he set off on the Paris–Madrid air race in 1911, as he was scheduled to stop over at Angouleme and San Sebastián, but he ran low on fuel and was forced to land before reaching the capital. Hondarribia was the spot where he was compelled to touch down and request refueling, allowing him to complete the second stage of the race.

Despite this anecdote and some attempts to develop air transport in the area, it was not until the mid-50s that a full-blown airport was slated to be built in San Sebastián. The best option was considered to be a site on the left bank of the Bidasoa river, adjacent to Hondarribia-Fuenterrabia and opposite Irún, with the airstrip being laid out in similar fashion to an aircraft carrier, being surrounded by water around most of its perimeter.

The first commercial flights arrived at the airport in 1955. The aircraft in question were operated by Aviación y Comercio – better known as Aviaco – a company that had been established in Bilbao shortly before that. The aircraft made use of a 1,200-metre-long airstrip at the time, while passengers were routed through the refurbished premises of a former canning factory. It acted as an air terminal for several years, until the definitive passenger terminal was eventually built. The runway was subsequently enlarged in two stages – first it was lengthened to 1,500 metres and later to 1,754 metres. This has been its length since 1969, although this year it will be again be enlarged to comply with European standards.


Apart from being laid out right next to the picturesque town of Hondarribia (no other airport in this country is so closely integrated into an urban centre) and having much of its runway surrounded by the waters of the river Bidasoa, another oddity of its facilities is that incoming aircraft have to fly over French territory when landing on runways 04 and 22. Specifically, they overfly the municipality of Hendaye, sparking a dispute between the two states after the French government filed a number of complaints, which led to the signing of two treaties. The first of these, in 1959, allowed aircraft to fly over France but with limitations, as jets were expressly forbidden to do so. It should be recalled that those times were the heyday of the twin-engine Caravelle, as streamlined as it was noisy.


Years later, in 1992, the governments of France and Spain signed a new agreement relating to San Sebastián airport whereby jet aircraft were allowed to overfly French territory, while limiting the daily number of takeoffs and landings. Twenty years on, this agreement enabled Vueling to start operating there, but exclusively with the A319 model, best suited to that runway and other similar ones like Florence-Peretola.

If you happen to land at or take off from San Sebastián, bound for or coming from Barcelona, make sure you don’t miss the spectacular view from the window – if you’re on an outbound flight from Hondarribia, it usually takes off from runway 04. On the way to its heading, or when accelerating for takeoff, you can often catch sight of traineras or large rowing boats on training runs along the river. Once the aircraft has lifted off, it swiftly overflies Txinguidi Bay, where dozens of vessels are anchored, as well as Hendaye and its beach. Once the plane has gained altitude, it veers to the left and, if the sky is not cloudy, you will immediately see the port of Pasaia/Pasajes and, seconds later, the spectacular scenery around San Sebastián or Donosti, with Zurriola beach, La Concha Bay and the island of Santa Clara in the middle, encircled by Mt Igueldo and the beaches of Ondarreta and La Concha. This stunning panorama can also be seen from aircraft flying in the opposite direction during their approach run, as long as they have been assigned runway 22 for landing in Hondarribia, the “Bidasoa aircraft carrier”.

Who Said Flying is Boring? It’s Spectacular!

Incidentally, the European directive means that Aena, which manages airport facilities, will have to upgrade the airstrip. Work on this will take place from September to December and will only affect the operation of A319 aircraft. To avoid having to discontinue this route, the company has opted to charter a dedicated aeroplane for those months – an Air Nostrum ATR-72-600 turbojet. This airline operates along certain routes as a franchisee for Iberia (a member of IAG – International Airlines Group). This state-of-the-art Franco-Italian aircraft is deployed on routes to Balearic island airports, as well as to and from Melilla. It will be the first time Vueling uses turbojet aircraft on one of its routes, although this will only last until the runway upgrade works are completed, after which it will again operate using Airbus aircraft.

One last thing – you are likely to see a number of photographers with large lenses stationed around the airport. They are not paparazzi hunting down celebrities; what they’re seeking is the best pictures of aircraft in the airport. Known as the “LESO Spotters”, these members of the Association of Aeronautical Photographers of San Sebastián airport are aviation fanatics who for years have acted as graphic chroniclers of everything that moves in the airport. The various photos appended to this text are by them. Thank you for your pictures for Vueling News!








Javier Ortega Figueiral (@Sr_JOF)

26 July, 2017

Congestion at different control areas at Barcelona-El Prat airport

For reasons outside Vueling’s control, longer waiting times are expected to pass the security filter and passport controls (flights to non-Schengen countries) at Barcelona-El Prat Airport.

We recommend our passengers to arrive with plenty of time in advance at the terminal, in order to be able to make their transit through the airport with enough margin to arrive on time at the boarding gate.

21 July, 2017

Paris airports – extended queues at immigration 17/07/2017

Due to extended Travel Document Checks by Border Control Authorities, customers are advised to expect possible delays at immigration control points at Paris airports. French authorities have advised that additional law enforcement agents will be deployed to prevent any delays until the end of August.


Vueling advices customers to arrive with sufficient time before the scheduled departure time of their flight and with all necessary travel documentation.  In particular, French authorities have requested that in order to prevent delays passengers verify if an authorization to exit the territory by a holder of parental authority is required for minors. This document is available on the site

If necessary, this document needs to be produced together with a justification of the identity of the parent executing the document.