AirAsia: More and more congestion for Asian airports

By Bjorn Fehrm

July 13, 2016, ©. Leeham Co, Farnborough Air Show: AirAsia Group Chief Executive Tony Fernandes said yesterday that increased congestion the group has seen for several of the airports AirAsia operates to in the Asian market motivated an order for 100 Airbus A321neos.

“We are slot constrained on several of our destinations and when we can’t get any more slots from an airport, it’s better to take-off with the 50 more passengers that an A321neo offers rather than the 180 seat our standard A320 have,” said Fernandes.

A321neo_Air Asia_.2016-07-12-16-40-31

AirAsia Airbus A321 as ordered yesterday at Farnborough Airshow. Source: Airbus

“The congestion has grown to the point where it will no longer be optimal for AirAsia to only operate with our standard-size aircraft, our fleet of 200 A320ceos with 180 seats, which will be gradually replaced in coming years by our order for 304 A320neos with the same seating,” Fernandes said. Read more

Pontifications: ICAO continues to drag feet on real-time data transmission

Hamilton KING5_2

By Scott Hamilton

May 23, 2016, © Leeham Co.: Malaysia Airlines MH370. Air Asia 8501. Egyptair 804.

Three passenger flights lost over the oceans. One, MH370, remains undiscovered to this day. Air Asia took a couple of weeks to locate. Egyptair debris took about 36 hours. The black boxes are still  missing from MH370. Once the Air Asia wreckage was discovered, the boxes were recovered fairly quickly. According to media reports, the black boxes of 804 have been “generally” located, but Egypt has dispatched a submarine to more precisely locate them.

The absence of real-time data transmission from the Flight Data Recorders contributed to the mysteries of what happened to these aircraft and spurred wild theories and conspiracies. ACARS, which does transmit data from airborne aircraft, does so at intervals–not real-time. Real-time data streaming from on board transmissions could provide immediate answers to what happened to an airliner.

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Six year turnover in sale/leasebacks put supply-demand balance at risk

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August 24, 2015, © Leeham Co. When airlines like Indigo of India, Air Asia, Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS) and Lion Air have outstanding orders for Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s that number in the hundreds, far more than operations and growth appears ready to support, the deals raises the natural  question: What are they thinking?

As LNC’s Bjorn Fehrm explained Friday, one aspect of these big orders is to “flip” the aircraft every six or seven years, a time that roughly coincides with the maintenance holiday/warranty period. Sale/leasebacks are used to finance these huge purchases.

The practice is hardly new. The USA’s JetBlue Airlines, Ryanair and others practiced this flip for years.

Carriers like the new LCCs mentioned above not only plan to do so to avoid major maintenance costs, but also to fuel their growth. In the case of Lion Air and NAS, these companies also plan to lease out aircraft to other airlines.

But there remain risks involved for the companies and for the industry.


  • The growing practice of flipping aircraft every six or seven years presents risks to lessors.
  • Indigo Airlines has 96 aircraft in service, 430 on order.
  • Select LCCs in Asia, Europe, India have 1,000 A320s, 737s on order.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sale/Leasebacks

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

21 August 2015, ©. Leeham Co: IndiGo Airlines firmed up Airbus’ largest aircraft sale by unit numbers in the week. The order is for 250 A320neos. This means the airline goes from 180 A320neos on order to 430. The airline is just finishing off its first order with Airbus for 100 A320ceos, the final eight being delivered over the next months.

How can an airline that did not exist 10 years ago order 430 A320neos?

There are a couple of things that makes this possible, one of them being the Sale/Leaseback. Before we go to Sale/Leaseback and how this enables this magnitude of business, let’s take a quick look at IndiGo. It has certain similarities to other airlines that also close large aircraft deals.

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Pontifications: Storm warnings ahead

By Scott Hamiltn

By Scott Hamilton

Aug. 17, 2015 (c) Leeham Co: Sometimes I never know what’s going to exercise readers. Sometimes it’s obvious. Last week it wasn’t.

Our post last week about the formidable challenges still facing Bombardier for the CSeries brought some surprising reaction, particularly on Twitter. And I didn’t see it coming.

The story was behind the paywall, but Canada’s National Post saw the public portion and called to get more information. The Post published some comments from an interview and with permission recreated a chart that was behind the paywall.

We’ve been doing risk assessments of “skyline” quality for a couple of years now, including Bombardier, which is why the reaction to last week’s post came as a surprise.

Our risk assessment has taken a couple of forms. For Bombardier, it’s a Green-Yellow-Red assessment, the meaning of which really doesn’t mean any explanation for anyone who drives a car or, in the aerospace industry, has ever seen Boeing’s Green-Yellow-Red assessment of access to aircraft financing it does every year.

The other symbolic method we use is nautical: Storm Warning Flags, looking at the top 10 narrow- and wide-body customers of Airbus and Boeing and raising a Storm Warning Flag about how solid the order is. We do this annually and the most recent time for Airbus and Boeing customers is here, also behind our paywall.

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Bjorn’s Corner: What Paris Air Show taught us about East and West.


By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

25 June 2015, © Leeham Co: With a few days in the office one can look back at Paris Air Show with a bit of perspective. So what are the impressions?

It was surprising how many orders Airbus and Boeing landed. Both had played down the expectations, telling that it will be a decent show but nothing close to record. Yet both were booking orders or commitments which were better than expected going into the PAS. Read more

Leahy gets lifetime achievement award; CSeries could be delayed again

March 23, 2015: John Leahy, Aviation Week Lifetime Achievement Award: John Leahy, the chief operating officer-commercial for Airbus, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Aviation Week. It’s a well-deserved award.

John Leahy. Airbus photo.

As the AvWeek write up details, Leahy has been instrumental in bringing Airbus to the market position it is today. We’ve known Leahy nearly the entire time he’s been at Airbus. He’s one of those love-him or hate-him kind of guys (or, in my case, like-him). Whether loved or hated, his industry accomplishments deserve respect and admiration. Joe Sutter, who is still around in his 90s as a consultant to Boeing, would be Boeing’s counter-part for the impact of his influence on the industry. We certainly can’t think of a Boeing salesman or any other contemporary in the front office who would match Leahy’s tenure and influence. In his day, Bill Allen, the long-time CEO, certainly would qualify.

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Odds and Ends: KC-390 first flight; A400M; AirAsia 8501; Bombardier credibility

KC-390 first flight: Embraer’s largest airplane ever built, the KC-390 tanker/transport, made its first flight today.

We profiled the airplane last October following our visit to Brazil.

The airplane fulfills needs for Brazil’s vast geography to supply its population and to serve as a military platform. It also gives EMB valuable experience in developing large aircraft. The cross-section is about the size of a Boeing 767. It’s slightly larger than a Lockheed Martin C-130 but smaller than the Airbus A400M.

Speaking of A400M: Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus Group, had some comments about this problem child at Airbus in his annual press conference dinner in Paris. Aviation Week reports.

AirAsia 8501: Reuters reported last week two unidentified sources said the captain was out of his seat cutting power to two computers, working a flaw, when AirAsia flight 8501 went out of control and crashed into the Java Sea. Now there’s a report disputing this.

Bombardier credibility: Ahead of the Feb. 12 year end 2014 earnings call, Bloomberg News has a story that focuses on Bombardier’s credibility issues with investors. CEO Pierre Beaudoin has his work cut out for him on the call to reassure investors.

Odds and Ends: AirAsia 8501; SkyMark Airlines bankruptcy; One year for MH370; Billy Bishop Airport; PNAA conference

Jan. 29, 2015: AirAsia 8501: The first report by the Indonesian government has been issued, per international rules, but the public portion is pretty uninformative if press reports are to be believed. At the same time, leaks indicate that the pilots may have turned off a key set of computers shortly before the airplane went out of control. There’s no apparent information yet why they might have done this. Were they responding to a malfunction, real or perceived? Was there some other reason? Is the leak on this even accurate?

Previous reports and statements from the government ruled out terrorism, bombs, and even the weather. We understand as well that there has not been a safety-of-flight issue. This leaves pilot actions and contributing factors as the likely focus. What series of events combined to lead to the accident remains to be determined. Read more

Odds and Ends: AirAsia; Philippine Air, Russia defers

AirAsia: Group CEO Tony Fernandes made appearances on international news programs, providing his first interviews away from the direct events surrounding Flight 8501’s crash. Here is a transcript of his interview on Bloomberg News.

The interviews come as the first read-outs of the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder have been undertaken. Indonesian officials are quoted as saying the alarms overheard on the CVR were “screaming,” a description which has been criticized by some, who point out correctly that alarms don’t “scream.” This is certainly true, but we take a more charitable view about the term. This could be a reflection of English being a second language to the government officials and merely a translation issue.

Regardless, the data seems to confirm early reports that the flight was caught in massive up- and downdrafts that threw the airplane into a stall and out of control. Former NTSB crash investigator told us he believes the airplane went into a tight descending spiral and broke apart when it hit the water.

Philippine Air, Russia deferrals: PAL deferred 38 Airbus narrow- and widebody aircraft, according to this news report. Boeing is in talks to defer deliveries to Russian airlines, according to Bloomberg.