Europe to Boeing: Not so fast on your WTO move; tariffs still likely

By Scott Hamilton

Feb. 24, 2020, © Leeham News: Not so fast, Europe says about Boeing’s claim it is curing illegal tax breaks from Washington State.

The World Trade Organization has to agree to Boeing’s interpretation. This will take at least a year. In the meantime, be prepared for tariffs to be levied on Boeing airplanes by this summer, just as the company hopes the 737 MAX is recertified and deliveries can resume.

Boeing must get the WTO’s approval that the move to suspend the tax breaks will bring the US and Boeing into compliance with a ruling they are illegal.

This process could take a year, said a person familiar with the process. He spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely.

In the meantime, tariffs that have been authorized for the European Union to impose on Boeing, and other US products, may take effect once the amount is approved. This decision is due in May or June.

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The Impact of Asian airline difficulties on OEMs

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Feb. 24, 2020, © Leeham News: Passenger traffic in the Asia-Pacific region has grown dramatically since the turn of the century. Except for temporary dips caused by SARS in 2003 and the global financial crisis in 2008-09, passenger growth has stayed comfortably above 5% each year.

China emerged as the second-largest commercial aviation market behind the US. Domestic traffic in mainland China grew fivefold, and international traffic doubled since 2003. Numerous low-cost carriers become powerhouses during that period.

Along with this growth came major aircraft orders. Five out of the 10 largest A320neo family orders are from airlines in the Asia-Pacific region.

However, airline profitability in the region recently lagged that of those in the US and Europe. Even before the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, numerous carriers had financial difficulties. The outbreak will accelerate the reckoning for some airlines.

According to an IATA report, the COVID-19 outbreak could translate into a $29.3bn revenue loss for airlines in 2019. Instead of a predicted 4.8% YoY passenger traffic growth for the Asia-Pacific region in 2020, traffic could contract by 8.2%.

In the first of a two-part analysis, LNA assesses the vulnerability of various airlines and the resulting potential impact on OEMs.

Summary
  • Numerous airlines have significant capacity exposure to China;
  • Several Asian airlines already had fragile balance sheets;
  • Chinese airlines are under particularly acute cash pressure;
  • Airbus and Boeing have material production exposure to affected airlines.

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Pontifications: EU appears to be holding Boeing-Embraer JV hostage

Feb. 24, 2020, © Leeham News: I bet you’d never get an official of the European Union to go on the record.

By Scott Hamilton

But there sure seems to be plenty of anecdotal evidence that the approval of the proposed Boeing-Embraer joint venture is being held hostage.

The EU is plenty vocal about being pissed at the Trump Administration’s trade war against Europe. It’s also unhappy with Trump’s tariffs on Airbus jets imported into the US.

Trump initially levied a 10% tax on the planes, last October. Next month, this goes up to 15%.

As of last week, the US collected more than $277m in tariffs related to the Airbus complaint. The Trump Administration has WTO authority to levy 100% taxes, up to $7.5bn. Industries and countries that have nothing to do with aerospace are penalized in addition to Airbus.

It’s unclear from public information how much of the money collected so far is from Airbus imports.

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Why the A321XLR makes sense for Alaska Airlines

By Scott Hamilton

Feb. 23, 2020, © Leeham News: Alaska Airlines last week said it will place an order, perhaps this year, for 200 aircraft for delivery over the next decade.

The carrier exclusively operated Boeing 737s until its acquisition of Virgin America. Officials repeatedly put off a decision whether to return to an all-Boeing fleet.

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-900ER. Source: Alaska Airlines.

Virgin leases for Airbus A319s/320s extend to 2025. The ex-Virgin fleet numbers 61. Leases for Airbus A321s extend to late this decade.

Alaska has 30 A320neos on order from the Virgin merger. However, cancellation rights have small penalties.

The carrier ordered 37 737 MAX 9s. Three were built last year but are stored in the grounding. Seven more are due this year.

Alaska plans to aggressively grow in the next 10 years.

Here’s why converting the 30 Virgin orders to A321neos makes sense.

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How much did the CSeries cost Bombardier?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

February 20, 2020, © Leeham News: As we wrote in last week’s article about the A220 flying the Montreal to Toulouse route, the stakes are high in the civil airliner business. If you don’t have a very strong balance sheet you shouldn’t enter the business.

Bombardier learned this the hard way. Its follow up project to its successful CRJ regional jets, the CSeries, brought Bombardier to the brink of bankruptcy and it had to sell the project to Airbus at a fraction of its value. The project cost more to develop and produce than planned despite not running off the rails during development like Boeing’s 787 or Mitsubishi’s MRJ.

We analyze why it cost so much and at what fraction Airbus got the program.

Summary:

  • The CSeries nearly doubled its development costs despite being void of major hiccups. What was the cause?
  • Airbus picked up the program when Boeing forced Bombardier to sell. How much of a bargain did Airbus get?

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Boeing may have checkmated Airbus in trade dispute

By Scott Hamilton

Feb. 20, 2020, © Leeham News: Boeing may have just checkmated Airbus in the long-running trade dispute between the US and European Union.

In an unexpected move, Boeing and Washington State crafted legislation to void tax breaks dating to 2003. The tax breaks were given to support development and assembly of the 787 in Washington. They were extended in 2013 to support assembly of the 777X in Washington.

The tax breaks were found to be illegal by the World Trade Organization. The US appealed the amount of damaged. An outcome is pending was due in May or June.

This case is parallel to another against Airbus. The WTO found Airbus received illegal subsidies and failed to cure them in connection with the A350 and A380 programs. All Airbus airplanes imported into the US, along with other goods unrelated to aerospace imported from the EU, are now subject to tariffs. The Airbus planes have been taxed at a 10% rate since October. This goes up to 15% in March.

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JetBlue, a carrier at crossroads

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Feb. 17, 2020, © Leeham News: JetBlue Airways has come a long way since it started operations in 2000. The airline celebrated its 20th-anniversary last week.

While the US legacy carriers were struggling financially and busy with consolidation, the airline successively expanded. It now generates more revenue than numerous flag carriers around the world.

JetBlue built significant focus city operations outside its main New York–JFK base in Boston, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando. The carrier profitably grew faster than most competitors in the years after the financial crisis. It also announced the start of trans-Atlantic operations from next year.

The airline has had some resounding successes over the years, notably the introduction of Mint service on US transcontinental flights. However, there have also been strategic failures.

After resisting the usage of ancillary fees, the carrier is aggressively increasing those revenues. Management announced in 2018 a shift towards expanding capacity in the focus cities where the airline has a significant market share.

LNA analyzes JetBlue’s performance over the years and the rationale behind the latest strategic decisions.

Summary
  • Succeeding where many others failed;
  • Some resounding successes;
  • And strategic failures;
  • Increasingly looking like a legacy carrier;
  • Setting itself up for a merger?

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Boeing 737 MAX 2020-23 backlog will require to 2026 to deliver: analysis

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Introduction

By Scott Hamilton

Feb. 14, 2020, © Leeham News: It will take Boeing years to deliver new production airplanes scheduled for delivery in 2020-2023 because the restart of the 737 MAX production will fall far short of delivery commitments.

There are an estimated 2,682 deliveries scheduled in this timeframe. Boeing’s production restart and ramp up provides delivery positions for an estimated 1,827 aircraft. This leaves an estimated 855 aircraft that will have to be rescheduled into the future, from 2023.

These will compete with Boeing sales for new order delivery slots. For example, the MOU for 200 MAXes from IAG, the parent of British Airways and other carriers, has delivery slots in these periods.

An analysis by LNA indicates it will take at least until 2026 to deliver these 855 airplane if no other orders are slotted in through 2025.

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Airbus 2019: an operationally good year hit by compliance costs

February 13, 2020, © Leeham News in Toulouse: Airbus presented its results for 2019 today in Toulouse. Operationally, the company made a profit of €6.9bn but heavy fines (-€3.6bn) to settle a long-running bribery case and contingencies for A400M development cost coverage brought the net result to a loss of €1.3bn.

The Commercial aircraft division delivered 8% more aircraft 2019 (863 units vs. 800 2018). The mix of aircraft changed towards higher-margin single-aisle types like A321neo and A321LR whereas widebody margins peaked during 2019. The helicopter business is flat in a tough market and the profits of the Defense and Space division declined 40% on flat revenues.

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Airbus buys Bombardier’s share in A220,  now sole owner together with the Government of Quebec

By Bjorn Fehrm

February 13, 2020, © Leeham News in Toulouse: The news this morning that Airbus is now the sole owner of the A220 (75%) together with the Government of Quebec (25%) is good news for the A220 and for Quebec.

Bombardier is a company in trouble and it was forced to try and save cash in the A220 partnership rather than invest in the future. This potential limitation on the A220 program is now resolved. Airbus gets sole responsibility for future plans and it has in the Government of Quebec a partner that will be positive to the growth of the A220 as it means more business for the Quebec aeronautical industry.

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