The industries’ CASM trap

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

August 11, 2022, © Leeham News: The airliner world measures efficiency in CASM, Cost per Available Seat Mile, and RASM, Revenue per Available Seat Mile. An airliner with more seats then has lower CASM or RASM.

Looking at seat counts, we can see that the hottest selling single-aisle, the Airbus A321neo, is closing the gap to widebodies like Boeing’s 787-8 and Airbus’ A330-800.

So it’s CASM, and RASM should be phenomenal. Or is it? Are we comparing correctly, or are these Apples and Oranges comparisons? We use the cabin generator of our airliner performance model to understand it better.

Summary
  • The measurement of economics per seat makes sense for internal airline work.
  • When comparing different airliner types in the same size class or between types (single-aisle, widebody), it’s the wrong method.

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HOTR: Boeing resumes 787 deliveries after long hiatus

By the Leeham News Team

Aug. 10, 2022, © Leeham News: Deliveries of the Boeing 787 are slated to resume today after a pause of nearly two years. American Airlines is set to receive a 787-8. The Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday that it approved Boeing’s plans to fix a production flaw that resulted in a paper-thin gap where certain sections of the fuselage are mated.

Rework of up to 120 787s in inventory has been underway for some time, both in Charleston (SC), where the airplane is assembled and in Everett (WA), where the former Line 1 Final Assembly Line was located. Plane spotters occasionally noted 787s being flown into Everett from stored locations.

Some estimates indicate that the 120 airplanes were sold for an average of $129m each. (The split between the 787-8, 787-9 and 787-10 is not detailed.) This places the inventory value at an estimated $15.5bn. But don’t assume this is the amount of cash that will be coming to Boeing as inventory is cleared into 2024. About 40% of the sales price is typically paid via deposits and progress payments by the time of delivery. This means that Boeing may look for an estimated $9bn in cash.

However, customer compensation for the delivery delays could reduce this some. Boeing prefers to compensate customers via discounts on future airplanes or via services and parts. How much—or how little—cash compensation is provided is known only to Boeing.

During the fourth quarter last year, Boeing took a forward loss on the 787 program of $3.46bn.

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Can China pass on Boeing airplanes? A deeper look

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Aug.  8, 2022, © Leeham News: The FAA lifted the Boeing 737 MAX grounding more than 18 months ago. However, Chinese airlines still have not returned their 737 MAX fleets to passenger service.

Air China 777-300ER

Chinese airlines have also not taken delivery of any 737 MAX since March 2019. Separately, a Boeing 777-300ER for China Southern Airlines has now been pending delivery for more than two years. While Airbus announced a large A320neo order from Chinese airlines on July 1, no similar order materialized for the 737 MAX at the Farnborough Air Show.

The above raises the question of whether China intends to place new commercial aircraft orders with Boeing. Last year, LNA concluded that China could not rely exclusively on Airbus and COMAC to meet its aircraft requirements.

This article revisits whether Chinese airlines can do without Boeing for single-aisle and twin-aisle aircraft. Airbus announced its intention to increase A320 family production to 75 per month by 2025. The analysis incorporates replacement needs but also looks at different growth assumptions to see whether output by non-Boeing OEMs can accommodate the fleet requirements of the Chinese market.

Summary
  • Current China passenger fleet profile;
  • Fleet replacement and growth rate assumptions;
  • Estimating maximum possible production rates for China without Boeing;
  • China needs Boeing airplanes in most scenarios.

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Pontifications: A bad feeling for the JetBlue-Spirit merger

By Scott Hamilton

Aug. 8, 2022, © Leeham News: I don’t normally report on airline mergers except as these may relate to aircraft fleet planning and the impacts on Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer.

However, the JetBlue-Spirit Airlines merger is an exception.

Much has already been written about the questions arising about whether the US Department of Justice will approve the merger; the incompatibility of the two business models; the cost to reconfigure Spirit’s airplanes to the JetBlue cabin standards; and, to some degree, the disparity in labor costs.

It’s the latter I will focus on today.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 30. Mixed architectures.

By Bjorn Fehrm

August 4, 2022, ©. Leeham News: This week, we look at two eVTOLs that don’t fit the terminology we use; Multicopters, Vectored thrust, or Lift and Cruise. The Vertical VX4 and Archer Maker are Lift and Cruise designs, but they use vectored thrusters for the cruise thrust, Figure 1.

Figure 1. The vertical VA-X4. Source: Vertical Aerospace.

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Embraer 2nd Quarter 2022: Mixed results as EVE is spun off

By Bjorn Fehrm

August 4, 2022, ©. Leeham News: Embraer presented its 2Q2022 results today. The airframer booked lower revenue and net profit as deliveries of the E195-E2 tanked, but margins were up in all divisions except Defence and Security due to strict cost control.

Revenue and net profit were down by 10% compared with 2Q2021, whereas margin and cash flow improved due to cost containment and the spin-off of the EVE VTOL activity. Sales were positive, with backlog growing 0.5bn from 1Q2022 to $17,8bn. The company confirmed the 2022 guidance.

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Dual or Single Aisle for Long Haul, Part 3

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

August 4, 2022, © Leeham News: We’ve been analyzing whether flying long-haul is better with a single-aisle or with a widebody under identical conditions.

To have equal conditions, we fly between Milano and New York at the practical range limit for our single aisle, Airbus A321XLR. We finished the analysis of Cash Operating Costs; now, we look at passenger and cargo yields and the generated margins on the trips.

Summary
  • The margins with identical conditions point the same way as the Cash Costs.
  • Any cargo traffic on the route will favor the widebody.

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Boeing avoids strike as St. Louis Machinists OK contract

By Bryan Corliss

Aug. 3, 2022, © Leeham News: Machinists Union members working for Boeing’s St. Louis-area defense plants today ratified a three-year contract with the company. 

The vote means that Boeing will avoid a strike that would have shut down production of new T-7 trainers for the U.S. Air Force and MQ-25 Stingray refueling drones for the U.S. Navy.

Members of International Association of Machinists District Lodge 837 on July 24 had rejected an earlier offer from Boeing with a 91% no vote, with 94% of members voting to go on strike Aug. 1. 

That prompted Boeing to go back to the table over the weekend. It came up with a new offer that added an $8,000 ratification bonus, with the option for workers to take that in cash or as a contribution to their 401(k) retirement funds. 

That, apparently, made all the difference.

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Update 8-3: Contract Approved (St. Louis Machinists vote Wednesday on latest Boeing contract tweaks)

Update, Aug. 3, 2022: The IAM 837 approved the revised Boeing offer for a three year contract. No strike tonight.

By Bryan Corliss

Aug. 2, 2022, © Leeham News: Machinists Union workers at Boeing’s St. Louis-area defense plants will vote on a revised three-year contract offer from the company Wednesday.

Workers on July 24 had rejected a previous offer from the company with a 91% no vote. In addition, 94% of workers voted to strike. The strike was scheduled to start at 12:01 a.m. Monday, but after a marathon weekend bargaining session, the union side agreed to take Boeing’s latest offer to its members in today’s vote.

Negotiators from International Association of Machinists District Lodge 837 had urged their members to reject the company’s previous proposal, saying it did “not equate to a fair and equitable offer.”

As of mid-day Tuesday, the IAM 837 negotiating committee hadn’t issued a public recommendation on the latest offer. However, our read is that it’s doubtful that Boeing has improved its package enough to satisfy Machinists, who are looking for significant improvements in pay and retirement benefits after giving up major concessions in their last contract.

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Jump in R&D spending at Boeing Commerical Airplanes points to renewed studies for new airplane

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By Scott Hamilton

Return of the NMA? Photo credit: Leeham News.

Aug. 1, 2022, © Leeham News: Buried in Boeing’s second quarter results released last week was a sharp jump in research and development spending.

It wasn’t just a small increase at Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA). Boeing spent more on research and development in the quarter and the half year. Expenses hit $1.33bn for the half-year compared with $996m a year earlier. For the quarter, expenses rose $996m vs $497m. R&D for Commercial Airplanes rose to $693m for the half and $372m for the quarter, compared with $524m and $255m, increases of 32% and 46%, respectively.

Spending is still short of the peak in 2019. But the reduced spending post-grounding of the 737 MAX and the COVID-19 pandemic was reversed in the first six months of this year.

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