Airbus stopped consuming cash in 3Q2020

October 29, 2020, © Leeham News: Airbus announced its third-quarter 2020 financial results today. It has achieved convergence of production and deliveries by delivering 145 aircraft in the quarter and 341 since the start of the year. It will keep its present production rates until next summer when A320neo rates are expected to increase.

The convergence of production and delivery rates combined with other measures has stopped the outflow of cash and Free Cash Flow from operations was positive in the quarter and is expected to stay positive until the end of 2020.

 

Airbus keeps production pace and predicts rate increase from next summer

Airbus set the level of production at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis and has not changed the rates since. It has now achieved a goal of converging production levels and deliveries. The delivery of 145 aircraft in the quarter has stopped the cash bleeding. The quarter ended with a Free Cash Flow before M&A and customer financing of plus €600m. The progress makes Airbus confident enough to give guidance that the Free Cash Flow will stay positive for the rest of 2020.

Turnover was down 40% for the first 9 months at €30.2bn compared with €46.2bn for 2019. Operational profit was -€0.1bn (€4.1bn). The profit including provisions for COVID-19 related reduction of employment etc. was -€2.7bn (€4.1bn).

Airbus will keep rate 40 per month for the A320 until beginning 3Q2021 when it has told suppliers to prepare for rate 47. This is one quarter later than what was previously the plan, said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury in a media call in connection with the announcement.

Widebody rates will remain at the present five per month for A350 and two for A330. Airbus sees the widebody market to come back last at the back end of the period for recovery, 2023 to 2025.

Airbus has logged 300 net airliner orders during the first nine months with only four cancellations. Its present Cash position is €30.4bn.

How to deliver aircraft during the pandemic

Airbus has delivered 341 aircraft in total with 145 during the last three months. The incentive for airlines, that don’t need the aircraft, to still take delivery is that it props up their liquidity.

By delivery, the airline has paid about half the net price in predelivery payments. At delivery, a lessor steps in and pays an agreed price for the aircraft, that the airline then rents from the lessor. This sell-lease-back transaction renders the airline the balance between the agreed lessor price and the pre-delivery payments to Airbus for the aircraft. As such, it is liquidity positive for the airline to take delivery of aircraft as long as the lessor finds the aircraft attractive to buy and offers the airline an interesting price.

Airbus has changed its delivery procedure so that airline staff that flies in for a delivery can feel safe when doing the delivery checks and test flights followed by the flight home of the aircraft. Airbus tests its delivery team for COVID before the work starts and has arranged special accommodation for airline personnel close to its facilities so the crews don’t need to accommodate in Toulouse town.

The result is Airbus can keep deliveries of airliners at the level of its production. There are no aircraft that get stranded and have to wait with the delivery anymore. The inventory of previously undelivered aircraft has shrunk to 135 aircraft by end of 3Q2020.

Other businesses

Helicopters produces black figures with turnover and profits at the level of last year. Defence and Space is down 10% on turnover and 25% on profits, mainly because of a COVID related slowdown in the launcher business. The A400M business is now more stable with five deliveries so far during 2020.

74 Comments on “Airbus stopped consuming cash in 3Q2020

  1. “”There are no aircraft standing around awaiting delivery anymore.””

    Does Airbus really have no undelivered planes?

    “”By delivery, the airline has paid about half the net price in predelivery payments.””

    Good to know that Pre Delivery Payments can be 50%, that’s a lot. Are these 50% valid for Boeing too?

    • Hello Leon,
      I have “heard” so many figures/nuances, that I will refrain from adding more confusion.
      It would be interesting to know the approx figures for N/Bs & W/Bs for AIB and BCA. Any wize guy around with at least a % bracket?
      Cheers,
      Jean-Luc

      • The big questions is when does the Airline start to make its lease payments?

        Most tend to have 50% already leased and those have to be kept up or negotiated.

        Not sure I see the difference in a lease payment or a bank financed payment.

        • Leasing is for a shorter period( say up to 8 years) while the airline owning the plane and borrowing the money from the bank lasts for much longer period. Of course the leasor gets the plane back at the end of lease, while the bank doesnt and maybe the airline makes a final balloon payment and keeps the plane or refinances it.

          • Thanks, I remember that now, so in reality your monthly payments would go up with a lease due to the short term and costs to revamp the aircraft to another customer if you drop the lease.

            Must be an advantage in there I am not getting

  2. Also, in the last week, Airbus has delivered the first A220-300s from Mobile, USA. They went to Delta. Boeing better get on-the-stick. Makes one wonder if someone may buy Boeing…

      • Well, seeing that they’re euros… But again, I think it is conceivable that Lockheed Martin makes an offer for the Boeing Aircraft Company in the next two years. Some areas of the company would have to be sold off particularly in the Defense Sector. Possible buyers of these units could be Northrop Grumman, or even a non aero corporation. With Airbus potentially pulling away from Boeing and being a behemoth on a global scale, Federal Regulators are likely to say go-for-it.

        • If it is only Boeing commercial than i don’t see any problems for Lockheed. Only minor problem i can see is the awacs type planes. but i see a problem for Lockheed. Commercial lives by other rules than defense. I don’t see them as a good match.

        • Frankly I’m not sure that Lockheed would want anything to do with taking over any bit of Boeing. I can’t see what would be in it for them.

          They would be guaranteed to be taking on a whole load of ill-defined liability, a lot of risk, poorly performing factories, a rubbish product portfolio, a demoralised staff and a pension plan to fund.

          Better to expand their own operations using their own people, recruit the best out of Boeing, to draw away the worthwhile work.

          • Easy answer is that buyer purchases the “undertaking” I.e. assets, contracts, etc. without the underlying entities and liabilities which remain with B to wind down and liquidate – what fun!
            Also allows to rehire employees anew, so no pension plan overhang, and gives clean tax basis.

          • Maybe North American Aircraft and Douglas El Segundo could be something for Lockheed?

          • No one is buying BCA

            There is a reason at the end of the first jet era it was MD and Boeing (Lockheed had a single no successful product and got out)

            Even if the Commercial Aircraft business was not huge risky, why would you buy a beat up jalopy with 3 flat tires?

          • @TW, I hear what you’re saying, but why the heck did Lockheed build the L1011 after really nothing going on the commercial side for 10 years? They just might want to be on the scope and scale of Airbus…

          • Sam:

            All I can say is insanity sets in, regardless of those who think a business is about logic, we see far to many examples that its whims, the latest thing etc (and then the next CEO reverses it!)

            Ergo, MHI and the MH90/100, Airbus with the A380 and Boeing with the 747-8 (never heard what break even was on that one but it was a developmental mess as a side burn from the 787 mess)

            I have been in meetings where you see the group speak spiral into stupidity, CEOs and upper management are not immune!

            Russian jumped in the C929 and clearly are sorry now and cutting back as they get gober smaked with what the Chinese want and are doing (not that it should have been a surprise)

          • For all the reason you list for not the most successful projects in aerospace, it almost builds a case for Lockheed to take a run at Boeing. Why? Because it is there. Again, maybe not likely, I just can’t rule it out. But in what we’ve read lately, Boeing could sell about 4000 Max’s, and then at that point start the B757 replacement, and go down the line from there.

    • The first A220 being delivered from Mobile in 2020? Not something that was foreseeable 25 years ago…

      Thing is, I can’t recall a single moment in the past 25 years when the reverse idea of a US airliner builder setting up in Europe looked sensible…

    • Sam, in very short order Delta has taken possession of three A220-300’s from ‘Bama (55070, 55075 & 55080). That makes 38 in total with their recent 10-Q showing none of them parked.

      • There are another 4 Delta A220’s in “flight testing”. Three of those are A220-100 of which 2 have been “flight testing” for months. On average Mirabel clears aircraft out of testing in 2-3 weeks, so that smacks of a deliberate delay to avoid inflating the undelivered count.

        There is another a220-300 flight testing in Mobile. Expect that to be delivered within a couple of weeks.

        • New plant, they must have problems and travelled work issues. Anything else would be unbelievable.

          • I don’t think Mobile is any more subject to traveled work than Mirabel (of course it could be less experience)

            Overall its probably just getting the group up to speed on a completely different aircraft that has nothing in common with the A320/21 they are assembling.

      • It’s Sunday, and there are 3 -100s parked at MSP at the hangar across from the Mall of America. A number was 138, so maybe they are getting pre flight checks. Those big GTFs look pretty darn cool on that NSA fuselage. After Covid-19, Delta might be one of the big airlines to thrive…

  3. They still have 135 planes sitting around, but last quarter they delivered 10 more planes than they built, so worked the finished inventory down from 145 to 135.

    • Hello Charles,
      Is this confirmed and broken down by type of A/C or a simple personal math exercise?
      Cheers,
      Jean-Luc

      • Confirmed by the company – page 2 of the Q3 release – “At the end of September, the number of commercial aircraft that could not be delivered due to COVID-19 had reduced to around 135.”

    • Thanks Charles,

      that sounds good.

      I noticed recently that one airline canceled the order from the lessor and bought the planes directly from Airbus instead, while the lessor canceled the order from Airbus. Will this happen more in future that Airbus will do some kind of financing to get the planes delivered?

      Wouldn’t an A320XLR make sense too?

      I have so many questions haha

  4. Glad I own Airbus (rather than Boeing) stock right now. Boeing can’t get out of its own way. At least the B737MAX will be certified soon so that’s good news.

    I’m curious to see which carriers/leasing companies have the money to actually get planes delivered in right now. Ostensibly, it seems almost all carriers and/or leasing companies are hemorrhaging cash.

  5. anyone know how many A350s are awaiting delivery, the last time i looked they had an increasing inventory due to all manner of different issues with receiving airlines but i cant find a definitive number easily at present

    • looked like something around 23 +/- A350 total until year end by September 30th.
      Moving targets, very volatile, much uncertainty, lots of commercial arrangements since March 1st or even a bit earlier. Nothing is simple since then, especially with new components that comes into play; Completed A/C in storage, deferral deals, financing commitments fulfilled at payment milestone, etc…

  6. Airbus is clearly the leader now in aerospace. Boeing continues to fumble around with the max cert and now they have discovered mice infestation on stored airplanes and major wiring damage that will require major rework… how is that allowed to happen?
    Boeing can’t even get an basic SMS program approved by the regulators to this day and yet Airbus has had one for years… just check their website.

      • Airdoc:

        Airbus is not the leader in Aerospace.

        I fully agree they are the leader in Commercial aircraft (Boeing is really down to 2 commercial product now and only one is modern)

        Space X in Rocket launchers, a mix of Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon (etc) in defense.

        • Airbus covers a pretty wide area now
          Helicopters ..check
          fast military jets..check ( shared with UK & Italy)
          large military transports..check
          Commercial airliners ..check
          Space..check
          Satellites, launchers via Ariadne – shared with Safran
          https://www.airbus.com/space.html

    • Airbus certainly look to be in a very strong position. To have stabilised the company during the current situation is pretty miraculous.

      My view is that Boeing is effectively a zombie company; it’s got nothing going well on any front, and seems to have no plan or cash to correct that. It’s is all but finished. Even if it does get the MAX back in the sky, it seems difficult to see anyone being enthusiastic about it. And there’s all sorts of dark rumours about shims on 787s, nominally the halo product.

      If a lessor is going to have to choose between funding Airbus products or Boeing products, I think we all know which way that argument will go.

      • My hats off to Airbus

        Boeing Management makes me want to cry. It was such a good company for so long.

        • An updated Max 10 with more wingspan to take on the A321XLR.
          After all the standard way to improve long range cruise numbers is for a bigger wing span. Helps for take off performance as well and if done right means you need a bigger thrust engine ….777X shows how that is done too

          • You need 10 t higher MTOW to carry the fuel. If that were so easy Boeing would already have done it.
            Then because of the higher weight you need better wings.
            Not worth it on the MAX. On a new plane it would be great, would force Airbus to get better wings too.

          • I meant to say 777X showed how a heavier plane had same engine thrust as before.

            as for extra fuel
            ‘The A321neo requires installation of auxiliary fuel tanks to achieve the longer range. Without any tanks, the MAX 10 has a slightly longer range…”[than A321]
            https://leehamnews.com/2017/06/19/boeing-launches-737-max-10-240-orders/
            The Boeing 737 max wing already holds more fuel than the A320 neo wing

            A321XLR gets its longer range from more fuselage fuel tanks , the Max 10 with more wing span could do it in a more aerodynamic way.
            I reckon the old wing jigs used now for the reinforced wing P-8 version could be re purposed for a small number per month of Max 10ER extended span wings.

            The Max 10 analysis is released from subscriber only
            https://leehamnews.com/2017/03/13/boeing-737-max-10-analyzed/

          • The 777-9 is bigger than the 777-300ER so it’s understandable that it has higher OEW, but MTOW is the same so it doesn’t need more thrust.
            The better efficiency of the new engines is used for the higher OEW, range will be less than the 777-300ER.
            The wings of the 777-300ER are much too small which also resulted in very long runway takeoff length. Boeing fixed this with much bigger wings at same MTOW.

            Who cares if aux tanks are in the fuselage. For maximum range only pax are important, you don’t load extra cargo.
            Aux tanks are useless if you can’t fill them, fuel is heavy.
            Boeing was deperate, they were only able to give the MAX-10 1451kg more MTOW for 12 more pax in 2 seat rows than the MAX-9. No weight left to carry more fuel. Because of the higher OEW the MAX-10 will have less payload-range.
            If you want to use the MAX-10 for range you could use it with a comfortable 5-abreast seat configuration and still couldn’t reach the payload-range of the A321LR.

            For 90t the MAX and A321 wings are ok, restricted by the 36m airport gate. Boeing won’t change the wings on the MAX.

            The XLR will get a much better fuselage tank, which could improve other A320 and A321 too. With it the LR, at same 4000nm range, could load 8 more pax. That’s special.

          • Duke:

            The 777X has a whole new wing. Its overall lighter and less drag, ergo you get a get out of engine free card.

            Why in the world would you put 2-3 billion more into the MAX?

            Its not worth it, you can’t fit in the gates (folding wing tips?)

            There is nothing that can be done with the existing wing not to mention its not FBW so you would have to design a composite wing that had pulleys in it.

          • The only reason to have a Max 10ER with increased span wing is to compete on longer range trips with the A321XLR , not to fit in existing gates for domestic type routes. They would be used to replace the 757/767 which are in different gates anyway.

            “Surprisingly, these are less powerful than the GE90 engines on the Boeing 777-300ER, the aircraft the 777X is derived from, despite the 777-9 being larger and heavier than the -300ER. This is with intent.
            The design of the 777X is to achieve more with less. We reveal how this is done below… Despite this, the GE9X engines on the 777-9 are specified with 10,00lbf lower maximum thrust than the GE90-115 on the 777-300ER…”
            https://leehamnews.com/2019/01/31/boeings-777x-analyzed-part-2/ ( detail for subscribers only)

            Its a misconception that the ‘old’ 777 wings were too small, they like the smaller cousins have standard airport gate sizes to deal with…hence the folding tips. The carbon fibre has allowed a bigger wing area and span but not a weight saving over the smaller previous wing.
            4,702 to 5,562 sq ft area , aspect ratio from 9 to 10.

          • “”A321XLR gets its longer range from more fuselage fuel tanks , the Max 10 with more wing span could do it in a more aerodynamic way.””

            The A330-900 showed this already with its 465m2 wings vs the 377m2 wings of the 787-9.
            The 787-9 can’t reach 9500nm but even with 3t less MTOW the A330-900 can carry 42 pax. The A330-800 should carry 94 pax because of 5t less OEW.

      • “”4702 to 5562 sq ft area”

        4702 / 351.5t = 13.38 sq ft / t (poor) 777-300ER
        5562 / 351,5t = 15.82 sq ft / t (good) 777X
        4998 / 316.0t = 15.82 sq ft / t (good) A350-1000
        9106 / 575.0t = 15.84 sq ft / t (good) A380
        4058 / 254.0t = 15,98 sq ft / t (good) 787-9, -10
        4758 / 280.0t = 16.99 sq ft / t (better) A350-900
        5005 / 251,0t = 19.94 sq ft / t (special) A330neo

  7. So do I!!!
    Lessors are really the shock absorbers Airbus mentioned in its Q1 press conference.
    Now lessors are making roughly 50% of the global inventory, from 45% last year…
    Saw that with the odd cancellation.
    Cheers,
    JLuc

      • Kinda doesn’t matter I think. The airlines that are left (or are going to be left) are in survival mode, waiting for the recovery. Having shiny, comfortable and efficient aircraft bought for a good price and competitiveis going to be of paramount importance, because the competition will be ferocious.

  8. Don’t think Airbus is running any kind of cash neutral at this stage. Wages are compensated / supported by local governments. Without that they would probably tank..

  9. Somewhat off-topic, but important:
    “United to offer free coronavirus testing on New York to London flights”
    https://www.airlive.net/united-to-offer-free-coronavirus-testing-on-new-york-to-london-flights/

    The intrinsic inaccuracy of tests in correctly identifying CoViD carriers isn’t really relevant, since both NY and London basically have free circulation of the virus. Can infection of passengers occur as part of the flight process? Well, for passengers under 40, who cares? CoViD patients under 40 — in vast majority — only suffer mild symptoms, don’t end up in hospital, and don’t die.
    https://www.statista.com/statistics/1105512/coronavirus-covid-19-deaths-by-gender-germany/

  10. “”Airbus has a “very low double-digit number” of ‘white-tails’.””

    They must be happy if they got up to 50% of Pre Delivery Payments for free.

  11. Interesting: the future of KLM is this evening (Saturday, CET) in the balance. A pilots’ union is refusing to agree to salary cuts, and the Dutch government won’t provide further bailout cash if costs are’t reduced. If the impasse continues, the world’s first commercial airline will be bankrupt within a few days.
    Secretly, the Dutch won’t be overly disappointed, because they’ll finally be rid of the disastrous marriage to AF.

    • Why is the marriage disastrous?
      The goal to be an all-Boeing airline is not a good choice, ask Norwegian.

      • Different attitudes, priorities and styles (North Europe vs. Southern Europe).
        KLM has always punched above its weight, and AF has always underperformed.
        The AF personnel will seek any excuse to go on strike.
        Enough reasons?
        In essence, there was no fundamental reason for the merger: at the time (2004) it was “fashionable” in all sorts of companies/sectors to do M&A. A complete fad that led to many a sub-optimal situation. KLM would have managed far better on its own.

        And yes, I suspect that, if the Dutch Government were to start from scratch in the morning, the new carrier would have a large(r) Airbus fleet. KLM must be the only (large) flag carrier in the EU with such an aversion to Airbus.

    • @ Bryce

      Can you give more details on KLM news, please? What does withdrawal of the bailout mean for the company and for the union with Air France, and subsequent effects on AF?

      I find little on the net

      • I have no specific details as yet on these questions; however, I doubt that the French (or anyone else) would intervene to save KLM, so, if the Dutch don’t do it, I suspect that the merger will die de facto.
        The Dutch news sites are full of the news. There are two English-language articles on Flight Global, but you’ll need a subscription.
        Here’s an English-language press release issued yesterday by KLM:
        https://news.klm.com/klm-statement-state-aid-31-october-2020/

        Incidentally, any reasons given above in reply to Leon’s comment are purely meant to reflect the Dutch perspective on the failure of the merger. I’m sure that the French could give their own reasons, and would probably call the Dutch overly correct and a crowd of stiff penny-pinchers…or something like that 😉

        • @Bryce

          Off topic but always relevant: a delay in vaccine introductions and approvals: a possible change of régime from EUA (Emergency Use Access) to EA (Expanded Access) : rising rates of concern in general public opinion polls, and increasingly racial differentiation in response concerning uptake

          https://www.statnews.com/2020/10/23/fda-shows-signs-of-cold-feet-over-emergency-authorization-of-covid-19-vaccines/

          https://www.statnews.com/pharmalot/2020/10/19/covid19-coronavirus-pandemic-vaccine-racial-disparities/

          https://www.statnews.com/2020/10/29/it-may-be-time-to-reset-expectations-on-when-well-get-a-covid-19-vaccine/

          This website appears to be very much MSM, part of the Boston Globe empire

          • @ Gerrard White
            Thank you — fascinating.

            Before I continue, I want to state that I’m not trying to be pessimistic in posting reactions such as this. I just feel (in the context of the items here on LNA) that the airline industry can’t afford to luxuriate in the illusion that a “silver bullit” vaccine remedy to the industry’s woes is just around the corner. There needs to be more preparation for disappointment, and more thinking about alternative survival plans. Bjorn even opened one of his recent posts on such a note.

            With regard to the subject matter of your first link, the following link is related, and contains a very neat discussion. The key sentence is:
            “At that point (i.e. EUA of a first vaccine), ongoing studies of any vaccine—including that first one—could become unethical because half the participants would get a placebo, at a time a vaccine with established efficacy will be available.”
            https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/10/early-approval-covid-19-vaccine-could-stymie-hunt-better-ones

            Ethnicity/country is very important for various reasons: genetic, behavioral, environmental. For example, the Russian Sputnik V vaccine uses two different human adenoviruses as vectors (Ad5 and Ad26): however, there is high immunity to these adenoviruses among (older) European populations. On the other hand, some other vaccine manufacturers are using simian adenoviruses as vectors — to which there is a significant immunity among (older) African populations. This reinforces the complexity of the whole hunt.

            As regards mRNA vaccine candidates, it is interesting to note that these have never before been used on a humans. Suppressants have to be added to prevent severe inflammation reactions due to triggering of the innate immune system — let’s hope those suppressants work properly.

            Of general importance is this link, in which a key sentence is:
            “The most advanced trials for coronavirus vaccines cannot tell researchers if the shots will save lives, or even if they’ll prevent serious disease”.
            https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/21/health/covid-vaccine-save-lives/index.html

          • @Bryce

            I agree with your concern about the difficulties of selection of approval régime, the emphasis on speed of introduction and approval, and the variety of types of vaccines being developed

            The more one reads, speaking for myself, the more multiform variable and sometimes chaotic the development and introduction process appears

            That’s not even to discussing the extreme cold store logistics of the mRNA vaccines (correct me if I am wrong but these need -70° cold chain) and the scaled up manufacture of vials etc

            https://www.laboratoryequipment.com/569702-Hurdle-1-Develop-COVID-19-Vaccine-Hurdle-2-Deliver-it-at-Ultra-low-Temperatures/

            Given that wide spread distribution even in the developed ‘west’ of these looks very difficult, wide spread distribution into exterior non first world countries appears unlikely

            There must be any number of sayings about the wisdom of not being excessively over optimistic or in a rush when confronted with such a dilemma

            A little learning is a dangerous thing?

          • @ Gerrard White
            The cold storage / transportation of the various proposed vaccines is a logistical nightmare. In many/most cases, once refrigeration is broken, the vaccine has to be used within a few days (or even a few hours).
            The first link below discusses this problem in general.
            The second link is particularly interesting, because it relates to the lack of proper refrigeration infrastructure in developing nations, which poses a risk to vaccine availability for 4 billion people.

            https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/coronavirus-covid-19-vaccines-cold-chain-storage-distribution-moderna-pfizer-oxford-6807907/

            https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2020-10-27-why-lack-of-cold-storage-could-hamper-covid-vaccine-distribution/

            Luckily, as you have pointed out elsewhere, the virus’ effects in developing nations tend to be relatively small compared to those in developed nations, although the are exceptions (e.g. Iran, which is developed, but economically curtailed). Nevertheless, since carriers such as KLM, Lufthansa, AF and Iberia are heavily dependent on traffic to/from Africa and South America, a lack of vaccine implementation in those regions could continue to pose a major problem for them.

          • @ Bryce

            Thanks for the links – the importance of India and their pharma industry can not be over stated

            The link to the Kenya website does, I think, accurately reflect thinking at élite levels in Africa, and echoes the concerns of airlines serving Africa

            The vaccine, and certificate, will be needed to allow international travel, that is clear

            However widespread distribution of vaccines in Africa not only look very expensive to implement, a further burden on very poor countries already badly struck by developed country lockdowns and reduced economic activity-

            – But also un necessary in very largely virus free countries

            How might one persuade peoples very little acquainted with vaccination, and very much untouched by this virus, to take a vaccine? let alone to pay for it

            Especially when it may well be that absence of ‘western style’ healthcare systems products and lifestyle were, in Africa, an advantage as to resistance and low infection and fatality

            Universal vaccination, undoubtedly to be implemented in the developed nations, might appear a one size fits all approach –

          • Just to lend a little clarity on vaccines:

            The racial issue has been brought up in trial reviews and the populations have been expanded. For example Moderna has the same racial representation in their trial as the general population. Also the same distribution of underlying conditions. This is pretty common now as its a valid concern.

            The cold storage issue is not major, the freezer requirement is needed only for long term storage, then refrigeration can be substituted for the periods required for transport & distribution. The vaccine can withstand several hours without refrigeration at the endpoint. It’s not much different than distribution of perishable food or dairy products. Also many of the proposed vaccines don’t have this requirement at all, so there will be alternatives for places without access to refrigeration.

            The same is true with regard to cost. There is a range of $5 to $40 at present. That will be one of the factors in distribution, as well as efficacy. The western world, in addition to bearing the development costs and providing resources, will support the distribution in poorer nations.

            The concern over EUA is only relevant for at-risk individuals who would voluntarily receive the vaccine. The vast majority of doses would not be administered until the full trial is complete and the vaccine has undergone the normal review & approval process. It’s not possible to push large numbers of doses under EUA, that is one of the conditions.

            The ethics issue is bad logic. The trials must have placebos to be meaningful, and there are careful controls in place to make sure the benefit outweighs the risk. If EUA is granted, that is an a voluntary early adoption and it would be unethical to end or compromise the trials at that point. I’ve seen this put forward as an anti-vaxxer argument before, so am not surprised it has been raised again.

            The denial of the meaningfulness of the trials, in terms of outcome, is false. The trials primarily determine efficacy and safety, but they also gather date on the treatment, severity and outcome of the infected members, which is tracked very closely to maintain ethical standards. The FDA guidance for vaccine approval explicitly says this data is required, it must be submitted along with all the data from the control committees, who are not affiliated with the researchers but monitor all the trial enrollees for health outcomes.

            In the interim reviews that are forthcoming in November, the guidance being provided is 50/50 that the vaccine efficacies will be greater than 75%, which would be far better than the flu vaccine, and would exceed the 50% minimum value set by the FDA. This won’t be known for certain until the trials conclude, but it’s a promising sign.

            As always, it’s important to present the full story and not just the negative opinions that support one’s personal view. Vaccines are not a silver bullet, but will be a critical tool to lessen the health impacts of COVID. Their development is a positive thing, and while there are always valid concerns, the entire picture must be viewed and explained in order to evaluate clearly. That also depends on reviewing the actual facts & data, and not precluding a good result based on conjecture, no matter how well-intended.

    • “world’s first commercial airline ”

      _worlds oldest still existing airline._
      There were earlier airlines around ( like DLR, Junkers Luftverkehrsgesellschaft .. predecessors to LuftHansa )

      If you include airship transport you are another decade off 🙂

    • @Bryce

      It appears there is a commonality between the Max problem and the vaccine problem :similarities which may reveal a path through the virus crisis

      The Max re certification was always going to happen tomorrow, and there was the background of hasty profit motive corruption of engineering coupled with regulatory complacence and capture

      Vaccine regulation appears subject to all the same pressures, with the same potential disagreements between EU, Asian, and US regulatory authorities, even if the FDA may prove to be more autonomous than the FAA

      The overall solution to resumption of airtravel may continue to be, as so far, regionally inflected : some parts of Asia are already back up, and in Europe the ‘Airbus’ solution for airlines, the increased financialisation of the airlines indicated by lessor and other financial partners taking over significant portions of management responsibilty and de facto control

      The KLM disaster may prove to be an eye opener for the other major airlines who are all zombies

      Successful relaunch demands a vaccine : effective uptake is, as far as I know, to be anticipated in EU, South America, MEast

      The US is odd man out : lessors lesser involvement in airline financials, once the current arrangements run through, and the stocks are junk rated: it is hard to see anyone bar the gvmt getting involved with Boeing : US vaccine uptake is unlikely to reach effective levels

      The Max revealed inherent overall structural administrative and financial weakness across the US system, but stimulated progress in the rest of the world, : the virus has done ditto on a much greater scale

      (nothing will come from these eternally pusillanimous so called guidelines from ICAO etc etc)

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