By Vincent Valery
Oct. 21, 2021, © Leeham News: LNA started the cargo-themed series by comparing factory and converted freighter aircraft performance. We followed with the comparison of cargo capacity for different passenger airliners with the same low number of passengers.
The latter showed that freight revenues alone could justify operating a larger variant despite lower passenger load factors. We now continue the cargo-themed series from a different angle.
Several countries, notably the United Kingdom, United States, and Singapore, re-opened quarantine-free travel for non-residents who received a COVID-19 vaccine. After more than 18 months of depressed passenger traffic, airlines are hopeful long-haul traffic will finally restart in earnest.
It will probably take a few more years until long-haul traffic fully recovers to pre-pandemic levels globally. With that in mind, airlines need to decide how to rebuild their long-haul networks gradually.
Launched a few months before the COVID-19 pandemic, the A321(X)LR seems an ideal aircraft to test the market before committing to larger aircraft. LNA has extensively written about the pre-COVID-19 long-haul market fragmentation with the smaller twin-aisle (A350 and 787) and higher-range single-aisle (737MAX and A321LR) aircraft.
However, is a long-range single-aisle aircraft always the best choice to rebuild a network when cargo prices are high? LNA will answer that question in the next part of the series.