By Judson Rollins
November 14, 2023, © Leeham News: Much ink has been spilled over the bad – and increasingly worse – year for America’s low-cost carriers or LCCs. Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, and Spirit have all reported disappointing results, with increasingly negative outlooks for the rest of this year and well into 2024.
The future of the LCC model is increasingly murky, having historically depended on consistent double-digit capacity growth to spread fixed costs. Such rapid growth is imperiled in the short term by reluctant lower-income consumers, in the intermediate term by shortages of airplanes, parts, and skilled staff, and in the long term by a growing worldwide pilot shortage.
Boeing’s 737 MAX has its share of LCC exposure; LNA analysis puts it at 37% of unfilled orders. But Airbus’s A220 and A320 programs are even more intensely exposed, with 48% of combined orders coming from LCCs.
Will Airbus’s focus on selling to LCCs eventually return to haunt the OEM? We take a closer look.