Major upcoming carrier re-fleetings

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

July 26, 2021, © Leeham News: As passenger traffic in the USA recovers, carriers’ operating cash flow turned consistently positive. With increased confidence in a sustainable passenger recovery, some airlines started ordering or purchasing planes again.

United Airlines 787-10

LNA outlined in a previous article that the pace of passenger traffic recovery differs significantly by region and country. Several domestic markets, notably China and the USA, are back to levels approaching those seen in 2019. Other markets, notably intercontinental or intra-Asia travel, remains depressed.

The carriers that placed large orders undoubtedly did so to capitalize on favorable pricing from OEMs and cheap financing. However, behind the headline-grabbing order figures lie that their fleets are aging fast and had under-ordered in previous years.

LNA singles out in this article the carriers that will have to place sizable orders to rejuvenate their fleets in the next five years, considering regional factors.

Summary
  • The 40,000 feet view of re-fleeting needs;
  • US carriers lead in old metal needing replacement;
  • Potential acceleration of replacement plans in Europe;
  • Lower near-term replacement needs in Asia-Pacific.

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Updated: Porter confirms E195-E2 after persistent denials in May

By Scott Hamilton

July 12, 2021, © Leeham News: Canada’s Porter Airlines today announced an order for 30 Embraer E195-E2s. The move comes shortly after the Canadian government agreed to loan hundreds of millions of dollars to Porter in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Porter ceased operations shortly into the start of the pandemic in March 2020. It resumes service in September.

Embraer announced the order, from an unidentified customer, on April 23. Airfinance Journal first reported that the customer was Porter Airlines, which the company denied. LNA confirmed May 19 that the airplanes were going to Porter. Porter declined to directly comment on LNA’s confirmation.

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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of airliner development. Part 11. The Program Plan.

By Bjorn Fehrm, Henry Tam, and Andrew Telesca.

July 9, 2021, ©. Leeham News: Now that we have done the basic market research we should scope the program. To do this we need to understand what aircraft we will develop and to what certification rules.

Our market research tells us to develop a 19 seat aircraft that can operate as a passenger and/or cargo aircraft outside the US and as cargo aircraft in the US. This enables us to certify it to FAA Part 23 and the equivalent rules of other National Aviation Authorities where we want to sell the aircraft.

Figure 1. The new Cessna SkyCourier Cargo/19 seat utility airliner. Source: Cessna.

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Exclusive: Mitsubishi ponders restarting CRJ production

By Scott Hamilton

July 6, 2021, © Leeham News: Mitsubishi is considering restarting production of the discontinued CRJ, LNA confirmed with multiple sources.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries discontinued production with the completion of the last of the small backlog it acquired with the June 1, 2019, purchase of the program from the ailing Bombardier. The final 15 CRJ900s were completed during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Montreal Mirabel Airport production line was shut down. The tooling was removed and stored. The buildings were turned over to Airbus, which now uses them for A220 production.

 

Source: Bombardier.

“Our primary focus remains the support of the CRJ operating fleet,” said Ross Mitchell, vice president of Shared Services.  “Clearly, the regional jet market is important to us, but we have made no commitment to move forward in this respect.”

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Asia-Pacific airline recovery held back by slow vaccination, border closures

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By Judson Rollins

Introduction 

July 5, 2021, © Leeham News: The passenger air travel recovery from COVID-19 has been wildly uneven, even between neighboring countries. Most countries with large domestic markets have seen dramatic rebounds in passenger volumes, although yields have been held back by a continued slump in long-haul and business travel.

Aircraft parked at Hong Kong International Airport, with construction on a third runway in the background. Source: Bloomberg.

In the Asia-Pacific region, however, even short-haul international traffic has been disrupted by virus outbreaks, a painfully slow vaccine rollout, and a largely stagnant web of border closures.

Summary
  • Much of Asia is well behind global average in the vaccine rollout.
  • Domestic markets in China, Australia, and New Zealand are performing strongly.
  • Border closures continue to cripple international travel.
  • Many Asian countries are likely to stay closed well into 2022.
  • Most Asian airlines are reporting slow progress toward capacity restoration.

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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of airliner development. Part 5. Developing to Cert rules

By Bjorn Fehrm, Henry Tam, and Andrew Telesca

May 28, 2021, ©. Leeham News: After an overview of different certification rules and discussions about why there are different rule sets, we now exemplify the rules by looking at specific aircraft projects and how the certification rules affect the design.

We start this week with the idea to certify a 9-seat mini-airliner like the Tecnam P2012 Traveller. It’s a recent development with US-based Cape Air as the launch customer.

 

Figure 1. Passengers boarding the 9-seat Tecnam P2012. Source: Tecnam.

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Pontifications: A330-300 could be great deal ahead

May 10, 2021, © Leeham News: The COVID-19 pandemic prompted airlines to ground more than 8,000 aircraft at the peak.

By Scott Hamilton

Among widebodies, no aircraft was hit harder than the Airbus A330ceo.

Traffic within China, the US and Asia recovers with narrowbody airplanes. European short- and medium-haul traffic is not recovering as quickly due to continued boarder closings. International traffic, for the same reason, remains awful.

But in chaos some see opportunities.

Jep Thornton, managing partner of the boutique lessor Aerolease, last week said the A330-300 could be a great trading opportunity.

At April 1, there were 267 -300s and 286 A330-200s (of all types) in storage, according to data reviewed by LNA.

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HOTR: Annual Reports give hint to MAX return in China

By the Leeham News Team

May 4, 2021, © Leeham News: Annual reports from some Chinese airlines give an indication when Boeing can expect to resume deliveries of the 737 MAX there.

China Southern’s report issued this week indicates 48 MAXes will be delivered next year. Another 44 are shown to be delivered the following year. This compares with five A320 series this year and none next year. Only 15 A320s were delivered in 2020.

Five 787s and one 777s are scheduled for delivery to China Southern this year. Four A350s are scheduled for delivery this year and next.

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Diverging financial fortunes for Airlines and Lessors

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Air Lease Corporation A321 XLR Rendering Credit: Airbus

April 5, 2021, © Leeham News: Most airlines and lessors that publish their financial results publicly have done so for 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic harmed all stakeholders’ financials in the commercial aviation industry. However, the impact varies significantly from one group to another. There are also significant differences between companies within a group.

LNA collected financial information on airlines and lessors to assess the pandemic’s economic damage. The differences in financial impact have altered the balance of power within the commercial aviation ecosystem. The varying fortunes will impact each stakeholder’s say in current and future aircraft programs.

Summary
  • A financial bloodbath for airlines;
  • Financial outliers;
  • Lessors mostly ok for now;
  • Impact on future OEM programs.

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China’s hollow airline “recovery”: capacity without revenue

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By Judson Rollins

Introduction 

March 15, 2021, © Leeham News: A flood of media coverage has centered on Chinese airlines’ supposed recovery from COVID-19.

The Chinese “big three,” Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern, made headlines with their rapid restoration of flights and even the announcement of new routes. Industry commentators and industry group IATA trumpeted the “recovery to pre-crisis levels” in China.

New routes garner headlines in normal times, but even more so now. And there is other good news: the US Transportation Security Administration last week processed the highest number of passengers since the pandemic all but shut down traffic a year ago.

But yield quality of such traffic in most markets is problematic. Cheap fares draw leisure travelers, yet business traffic remains a fraction of pre-pandemic levels and there are few signs of near-term recovery. Executives at Lufthansa Group, where business travelers deliver nearly 60% of revenue, said earlier this month they believe such travel will ultimately only return to 80-90% of pre-pandemic levels – and not until mid-decade.

If market analysts want to examine China’s recovery, they have to look at the whole picture. China may be leading the way in capacity restoration, but it’s not the “good” news touted.

The positive trends in China are in mainland domestic flights and seats, not passenger traffic or revenue — and not at all for regional (Hong Kong, Macau) or international routes. Scant attention has been paid to operational data from the country’s airlines – and even its national aviation regulator – showing passenger traffic even on domestic routes is still well below pre-COVID levels.

The “big three’s” third-quarter 2020 financial reports – when the domestic market was supposedly beginning to hit its stride – showed revenue losses far greater than the airlines’ pre-crisis share of revenue from international service. Even those disastrous results included a strong tailwind from increased cargo revenue, as the airlines don’t break out their revenue by business segment outside of annual reports.

LNA dug into the reports of China’s three state-owned airlines, privately held Hainan Airlines, low-cost carrier Spring Airlines, and monthly data releases from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). Much of this data is only published in Mandarin, or in English only after long delays, so we enlisted translation help to build a more complete picture.

Summary
  • Capacity is (mostly) back, but passenger volumes haven’t followed.
  • Desperate sales promotions are widespread among Chinese carriers.
  • Third quarter 2020 financial reports show grave revenue losses.
  • Fourth quarter traffic isn’t materially better – and early 2021 is worse.
  • Continued excess capacity appears to be driven by politics, not demand.

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