Bjorn’s Corner: Do I get COVID in airline cabins? Part 4.

By Bjorn Fehrm

May 29, 2020, ©. Leeham News: In our Corner series about flying during the COVID-19 pandemic, we go deeper into the cabin airflow and procedures around the flight.

The riskiest phase of the flight is not when you sit down. The cabin airflow then transports the viruses away from your breathing. It’s the phases before and after the flight that are the danger zones.

Figure 1. The airflow in a passenger jet. Source: Leeham Co.

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What’s the gain of flying a smaller single-aisle during COVID-19 recovery?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

May 28, 2020, © Leeham News: As flying recommences after country lockdowns, the fill factors for the flights will be low for an extended period.

Airlines and the OEMs are anticipating the low load factors. For instance, Delta has not deferred any Airbus A220 deliveries but is postponing deliveries of larger aircraft. How much of an advantage is a smaller aircraft when opening up the traffic again?

We compare the operational costs of the Airbus alternatives. The cost of flying the A220-300 is compared with the A320neo.

Summary:

  • The A220-300 is about 25 seats smaller than the A320neo. It’s smaller airframe makes for lower fuel costs and airway/landing fees.
  • There are savings on the crew side as well, as both flight and cabin crew costs less.
  • Finally, modern systems, a composite wing, and a fuselage made of advanced materials promise lower maintenance costs than the A320neo.

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HOTR: LATAM files bankruptcy, latest COVID airline casualty; 1,100 aircraft involved

By the Leeham News Staff

May 26, 2020, © Leeham News: LATAM, the largest airline company in South America, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today in New York.

LATAM operates more than 300 aircraft. This filing means more than 1,100 worldwide were operated by airlines seeking bankruptcy or administrative protections. The UK’s Flybe was already failing before COVID effectively shut down UK air travel.

Many others teeter on the edge, saved for the moment by government bailouts.

Below is LNA’s latest tally of aircraft.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Do I get COVID in airline cabins? Part 3.

May 22, 2020, ©. Leeham News: In our Corner series about flying during the COVID-19 pandemic, we look closer at the available research around passengers that fly with virus infections and if these spread to other passengers during a flight.

How much do we know and what are guesses?

Figure 1.

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Better to bring capacity back with a 777-9 or 787-10 if we fly 777-300ER today?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

May 21, 2020, © Leeham News: We looked at the economics of extending the lease of a Boeing 777-300ER or taking an ordered 777-9 here.

If traffic post-COVID-19 on the routes we fly stays down for long, should we change the order to a 787-10? What are the trades between staying with the 777-300ER, taking the 777-9, or stepping down to a 787-10?

We use our airliner economic model to find out.

 

Summary:

  • The 787-10 is the safe choice if the fill level for our routes will stay below its passenger capacity for a longer period.
  • This choice is valid for a JFK to Heathrow route. The 787-10 has a shorter range than the 777-300ER and 777-9, so a 787-10 alternative is only possible for routes within its capacity.

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Lessor exposure to Airbus, Boeing wide-bodies

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By Scott Hamilton

May 18, 2020, © Leeham News: As airlines park or retire thousands of aircraft, lessors with wide-body airplanes are most at risk.

Single-aisle airplanes are easier to re-lease and more in demand when traffic recovers. Reconfiguration and maintenance costs, if required, are reasonable by aviation standards. Cabin reconfiguration may run up to $1m. Airframe and engine MRO costs for Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s typically are in the low millions, depending on condition.

MRO and reconfigurations costs for wide-body airplanes, on the other hand, can cost more than a new A320 or 737. GE Aviation GE90s on Boeing 777-200LRs, -300s and -300ERs are notoriously expensive. MRO for Rolls-Royce wide-body engines is costly under RR’s contract packages.

Reconfiguration costs for A330s, 777s and A380s can run up to $30m, depending on the initial operator and who the second (or third) one will be. Therefore, HiFly did not reconfigure the ex-Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 it acquired after SQ retired the airplane.

LNA analyzed the number of wide-bodies owned by lessors. There are more than 670 Airbuses and more than 600 Boeings.

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Pontifications: There is no good news

May 18, 2020, © Leeham News: There simply is no good news in commercial aviation right now.

By Scott Hamilton

Yes, airport traffic is upticking in the USA (and elsewhere) slightly. But in the USA, it’s still less than 10% of last year’s totals.

There remains a tremendous amount of uncertainty.

  • Airbus plans to lay off some 10,000 employees, according to press reports. Another production rate cut seems inevitable.
  • Boeing’s CEO revised the forecast for air traffic recovery from 2-3 years to 3-5 years. Production recovery will take another 2-3 years after that, he said.
  • Embraer’s biggest customer for the E195-E2, Azul Airlines, deferred deliveries from 2020-2023 to 2024. There haven’t been announcements about deferrals by US carriers for E175-E1s, but there is no reason to believe these won’t be deferred.
  • Delta Air Lines says 7,000 of its 14,000 pilots will be surplus to its needs this fall.
  • Spirit Aerosystems laid off about 1,700 employees due to Boeing’s production planning.
  • Qatar Airways will retire 50 airplanes, defer new orders from Airbus and Boeing and cut the workforce by 20%.

The list goes on and on and on.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Do I get COVID in airline cabins? Part 2.

May 15, 2020, ©. Leeham News: In our Corner series about flying during the COVID-19 pandemic, we dig deeper into the knowledge around when a person is infectious and what to do about it in a air travel setting.

Figure 1. Droplet cloud when coughing.

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Analysis: Mitsubishi suspends development of M100, continues M90 due to COVID

By Scott Hamilton

Analysis

May 12, 2020, © Leeham News: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) yesterday said it cut development money for the M100 SpaceJet. M100 R&D is suspended indefinitely while it continues for the M90 on half rations.

MHI will continue certification of the M90.

MHI also said it will reevaluate demand for the M100 because of COVID-19 impacts.

This immediately raised questions whether MHI may kill the M100 program.

To do so will squander MHI’s once-in-a-lifetime chance to become a real global power in commercial aviation. If this happens, “Japan Inc.” also loses a chance to be part of this.

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Bringing back long-haul capacity with narrowbody aircraft

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

May 11, 2020, © Leeham News: The timeline for a passenger traffic recovery is highly uncertain. Major OEMs and some airlines expect a return to 2019 passenger traffic levels in two years at the earliest.

Southwest Airlines doesn’t see traffic returning to 2019 for five years. IAG, parent of British Airways and several other airlines, predicts a three year recovery.

Leeham Co. predicts that it will take four to eight years before traffic returns to pre-COVID-19 levels.

 

Airbus A321XLR. Source: Airbus.

However, the recovery sequence for the various markets is becoming clearer. Governments will progressively lift travel restrictions on domestic markets, followed by regional international. Long-haul international will probably be the last to return to normal.

Airlines in China started ramping up domestic capacity, though the government mandates some of this. The governments of Australia and New Zealand disclosed discussions to lift trans-Tasman travel restrictions. French President Emmanuel Macron made it clear that travel would be first allowed within the European Union before outside the old continent.

People who need to travel for business reasons will be allowed first, including for long-haul travel. That means airlines that wish to restore long-haul capacity will have to do so with a much-reduced demand. With this in mind, it might make sense to restore long-haul flights with latest generation narrowbody aircraft such as the Airbus A321(X)LR and Boeing 737 MAX.

LNA analyzes pre-COVID-19 long-haul route patterns to determine what fraction narrowbody aircraft can cover as passenger traffic recovers.

Summary
  • Long-haul markets split in two;
  • Missed New Mid-Range Aircraft launch opportunity;
  • A large addressable market for the A321XLR;
  • A321LR and 737MAX long-haul route coverage.

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