Coronavirus dominates sideline talk at aviation conference

By Scott Hamilton

March 2, 2020, © Leeham News, Austin (TX): The global impact of COVID-19, the coronavirus, was the dominant talk on the sidelines of an aviation conference here.

Source: KRDO.com

Industry professionals predict the reduction in airline service will only grow and could grow dramatically. Aircraft groundings could escalate sharply. Carriers are already seeking payment relief. Lessors are gearing up to repossess airplanes.

And universally, these professionals think the worst is yet to come.

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Asian airline troubles could affect up to 20% of Airbus, Boeing backlogs

By Judson Rollins
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In last week’s analysis, LNA examined which airlines in greater China and the rest of Asia may be in imminent risk of financial distress due to the growing coronavirus outbreak. We found that airlines from Malaysia to Japan have significant exposure to the Chinese market. Several have shaky balance sheets and were already losing money prior to the outbreak, most notably AirAsia, AirAsiaX, Thai Airways, Nok Air, Malaysia Airlines, and Asiana.

The coronavirus outbreak has now spread to Europe and the Middle East, but we are continuing our focus on Asia as it’s been most greatly affected so far. Additional analysis focusing on Europe will follow, with particular attention to the potential for further airline consolidation on the continent.

LNA reviewed ownership and operating data on aircraft to understand top manufacturer and lessor exposure to greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Macau, and the rest of East Asia.

Summary
  • Airbus has greater exposure to China and the rest of East Asia, especially in widebodies;
  • Boeing’s 787, 777X difficulties will be exacerbated by Asian airline troubles;
  • COMAC’s sales book is almost exclusively in China, but government support is likely;
  • ATR has material exposure to Southeast Asia; other regional aircraft OEMs are largely unaffected.

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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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Tariff threats, China certification issues slow A220 sales

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May 23, 2019, © Leeham News, Toulouse: Airbus took over majority interest the Bombardier C Series July 1 last year. The company immediately announced 120 orders for the CS300, renamed the A220-300, at the Farnborough Air Show, but the deals had been in the works with Bombardier before the takeover.

Another flurry of orders was announced at the end of last year.

Since then, virtually nothing.

Tuesday at the Airbus Innovation Days, Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer said the threat of tariffs in the US and the lack of certification in China effectively shuts out two thirds of the world market to the A220.

Monday, tensions between Canada and the US eased a bit when the Trump Administration removed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. But Airbus remains a Trump target at the World Trade Organization over outstanding claims against Airbus for the A380 and A350.

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Returning the MAX to service

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Introduction

April 1, 2019, © Leeham News: Returning the Boeing 737 MAX to services following its grounding should reasonably be a straight-forward affair, if past groundings were examples.

But, to mix a metaphor, there are plenty of unchartered waters with this grounding that stand ready to complicate matters.

Bloomberg reported Saturday that Europe’s FAA equivalent, EASA, skipped last week’s Boeing meeting of 200 pilots and regulators.

Summary:
  • US FAA is no longer the leader or gold standard.
  • EASA, Transport Canada want their own reviews.
  • China, the first to ground the MAX, also suspended plane-by-plane certification.

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UK bans MAX; China checked with Boeing, FAA before grounding

March 12, 2019, © Leeham News: Australia and the United Kingdom today joined a growing list of countries banning the Boeing 737 MAX from operating in or through their airspace.

The UK’s decision to ban the MAX is, up to now, the most important development in the growing crisis of confidence in the safety of the MAX.

The UK and continental Europe’s regulators, EASA, are considered tough regulators who usually work in concert with the USA’s Federal Aviation Administration. That the UK authority is now ahead of the FAA is crucial. If EASA follows suit, the blow to the FAA and to Boeing will be huge.

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About 40% of MAX fleet now grounded-but not by FAA

March 12, 2019, © Leeham News: About 40% of the world’s in-service Boeing 737 MAX fleet were grounded by the end of yesterday, Seattle time, after more governments and airlines banned operations.

Singapore was the latest to ban MAX operations from its air space.

The US Federal Aviation Administration said yesterday there isn’t enough information yet from the Ethiopian Airlines crash Sunday to conclude a grounding order is necessary.

But it added that it will issue an order for a mandatory action by April to make improvements to the flight control system. Boeing late Monday confirmed a software upgrade is in the works for its MCAS stall recovery system used on the MAX.

LNA reported early Monday that a plan to implement a software upgrade following the October crash of a Lion Air MAX 8 had not been implemented.

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Indonesia grounds MAX, one-third of world fleet now grounded

Update: Royal Air Maroc, Mongolian Airlines ground MAX.

March 11, 2019, © Leeham News: Indonesia regulators today joined China, Grand Cayman Airways and Ethiopian Airlines in grounding the Boeing 737 MAX pending investigations or inspections.

This means about one third of the in-service MAXes have been grounded by regulators or operators.

The moves came within 36 hours of the crash of Ethiopian Flight 302, a MAX 8, six minutes after take off from Addis Ababa. The crash killed all 157 people on board five months after a Lion Air 737-8 crash that killed 189 passengers and crew. Lion Air is an Indonesian carrier. The airline’s JT610 crashed 12 minutes after take off.

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Boeing postpones public events for 777X roll-out

March 10, 2018, (c) Leeham News: Boeing today postponed the public ceremonies planned for Wednesday for the roll-out of the 777X, following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a Boeing 737-8.

No date has been rescheduled.

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Airbus holds 56% share of backlogs vs Boeing

Jan. 11, 2019, © Leeham News: Airbus trailed Boeing in net orders in 2018 but it still holds a commanding lead in backlog market share.

With the companies reporting their year-end tallies, Airbus has a 56% share of the backlog to Boeing’s 44%.

Airbus carries the day with narrowbody backlog. Its share is 58% to Boeing’s 42%.

Boeing wins the widebody backlog, 53% to 47%, driven by a broader product line, including strong 777F and KC-46A/767-300ERF backlogs.

When the emerging narrowbody airplane programs of China and Russia, and Embraer’s sole entry into the 100-150 seat sector (based on two-class seating), Boeing’s narrowbody share of the backlog drops from 42% to 40%.

Charts are below. Data is based on firm orders only.

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