By Scott Hamilton
June 17, 2023, © Leeham News: Is the regional airline market across the globe dying?
Many think so. Certainly, the market demand for the regional jet is shrinking in the 10- and 20-year market forecasts. Bombardier withdrew from the market as demand for its aging CRJ family shriveled. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries killed its RJ SpaceJet program as delays and development costs mounted. Bombardier also exited its turboprop airliner business. ATR is now the sole producer of large turboprops outside China and Russia.
Embraer is now the sole producer of regional jets outside of China and Russia, and it doesn’t even want to call the E-Jet a regional airliner.
Regional airlines in the US face a continuing and growing shortage of pilots. Those in Europe face pressure from environmentalists to the governments to ban short-haul flights in favor of trains.
Despite these challenges and the conclusions of some that the regional airline business is dying, regional carriers take exception to these conclusions.
One regional airline official even took exception to the CEO of Delta Air Lines, who concurred with the dead-and-dying trend.
Speaking at the Aviation Week MRO Americas conference in April in Atlanta, Ed Bastian noted that Delta began trending away from regional carriers many years before.
By Bjorn Fehrm and Vincent Valery
Jan. 30, 2023, © Leeham News: In the previous articles, demand in the Airbus A320 family gradually shifted from the smaller A319 and A320 to the larger A321. This shift is laying the groundwork for the arrival of the A220-500.
Airbus can develop the A220-500 with relatively minor technical modifications that are not extremely challenging. In an aircraft performance analysis, we saw that the light aircraft weight gave the A220-500 an advantage against the A320neo and 737-8.
What is then preventing Airbus from launching the A220-500 now? While most of the attention has been on the cannibalization risk with the A320neo and the lack of urgency given Airbus’ market share lead, other and more critical factors, in LNA’s opinion, are at play.
Being an aircraft OEM is not just about designing airplanes that meet payload-range requirements and satisfy stringent safety regulations. It is also about efficiently building aircraft with millions of parts and consistent production rates. The recent challenges OEMs are facing ramping up after the Covid-19 pandemic show that aircraft production is far from a walk in the park that can be taken for granted.
It is common for aircraft OEMs to spend as much cash nursing production through the learning curve until the first profitable delivery as developing the aircraft itself.
The final article on this A220-500 series discusses why Airbus is rightfully cautious about launching the new variant.
By Bjorn Fehrm
Jan. 23, 2023, © Leeham News: Following Thursday’s article about an up-and-coming Airbus A220-500, we now look at the operational cost for the A220-500 and compare it with the A320neo it should replace.
We put the data we discussed in Thursday’s article in our Aircraft Performance and Cost model, fly the aircraft on a typical single-aisle mission and look at the results.
By Bjorn Fehrm
Jan. 20, 2023, © Leeham News: It’s a question “of when, not if” there will be an A220-500, we conclude in Tuesday’s article.
We have known about the -500 since the Bombardier days. A longer CS300 was part of the original concepts when the CS100 and CS300 were developed to safeguard that no decision on the smaller variants precluded a larger variant.
As Airbus A321 grows its share of the A320 lines’ output, an A220-500 makes sense, but only when the two A220 final assembly lines in Mirabel and Mobile can produce enough A220s to satisfy demand.
What would be the characteristics of an A220-500? We use our aircraft design and performance model to determine what is possible.
By Bjorn Fehrm
December 10, 2020, © Leeham News: Last week, we introduced the Boeing 717 and its closest replacement size-wise, the Airbus A220-100. Delta, a major 717 customer, is accelerating the replacement of the 717 with the A220-100 under the pressure of the COVID19 pandemic.
We use our performance model to understand why. What are the gains when going from the 717 to an A220-100?
September 3, 2020, © Leeham News: Airbus and its subsidiary Satair announced today it has integrated one of the last pieces of Bombardier’s engagement with the A220, the spare parts distribution.
Airbus acquired Bombardier’s part of the A220 aircraft program in January, but Bombardier continued to purchase, stock, sell and distribute the A220 spare parts. From the 1st of July, this is handled by Satair, part of the Airbus group, to give airlines with Airbus aircraft a single point of contact for spares part services.
By Kathryn B. Creedy
Third in a Series. Previous articles:
Aug. 31, 2020, (c) Leeham News: European regionals face far greater challenges than Covid and, sadly, much of what is happening to the industry is beyond its control. The result is similar to failures seen in the U.S. Flybe’s recent loss resulted from pre-Covid problems which also led to the pre-Covid failures of such airlines as Flybmi and Cobalt.
The failures illustrate, however, the three reasons why European regionals are so fragile – low-cost competition, geography, and challenging government policy.
By Bjorn Fehrm
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.
By Bjorn Fehrm
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.
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.