Deferrals grow as airlines fight to keep bottom line

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Jan. 09, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Airlines have deferred or are thinking about deferring more than 400 airplanes in the near term, a review of decisions and deliberations  that have been made during the last 12 months.

LNC tracked announcements last year of deferrals and statements by airlines that they are thinking about doing so.

We began identifying macro-level issues last week in our posts about emerging concerns for the 787 and LNC’s Outlook for 2017.

Reasons vary widely for the deferrals, these reports indicated. Low oil prices. Slowing economies. Declining financial results. Worries about two of the three top Middle Eastern carriers. A capital squeeze in China. Pressure on long-haul carriers from the emerging sector of low cost, long-haul airlines. Preserving capital expenditures to keep the bottom line in the black.

Today we detail the deferrals we tracked.

  • Deferrals of single aisle aircraft are less worrying than for wide-body aircraft
  • For wide-bodies, it depends on the program. For the Airbus A380, deferrals turns the program back into the red. For the A350, deferrals can help with delivery commitments.
  • For the Boeing 777, deferrals spells trouble, especially for the present generation.
  • The 787 is more resilient but the slow sales make the program sensitive longer term.

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Norwegian, others have vision; US airlines don’t

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Dec. 5, 2016, © Leeham Co. Last weeks’ approval by the US Department of Transportation of a license for Norwegian Air Shuttle to operate long-haul, low-cost service to and from the US drew immediate fire from labor unions over anticipated US job losses.

Iceland's Loftleider Airlines, one of the first trans-Atlantic low-cost carriers. Photo via Google images.

Iceland’s Loftleider Airlines, one of the first trans-Atlantic low-cost carriers. Photo via Google images.

But their view is too narrow.

It means more jobs for Boeing and its supply chain, which are also heavily unionized. It means benefits to US exports.

But overlooked is the next evolution in long haul travel that starts next year.

  • Legacy airlines always object to new competition. It doesn’t matter when or from where.
  • Open skies and free market is a great concept—until someone actually takes advantage of it.
  • The 737 MAX and A321neo present new threats to US airlines.
  • Lack of vision and foresight are the US airlines’ own worst enemy.

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Clouds overhang Bombardier ahead of earnings call

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Nov. 9, 2016, © Leeham Co.: Bombardier reports its 3Q2016 and nine month earnings Thursday and as the year prepares to enter its last 45 days, disappointment hangs over the company and the stock.

  • Despite winning firm orders for the CSeries from Air Canada and Delta Air Lines early in the year, no other new orders have been announced.
  • Deliveries of the CSeries will only be about half those projected, due to engine delivery delays from Pratt & Whitney.
  • The $1bn investment from the federal Canadian government hasn’t been achieved, but an announcement may come as early as next week that an agreement has been reached.
  • Boeing revised the design of the 737-7 to sit “right on top of” the CS300.
  • Embraer (Brazil) is taking the government bailout of CSeries to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in inquiries, with the USA lending support.

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Airline assets and lessor assets: Bombardier and Embraer

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Part 2. Part 1 may be found here.


Bombardier invented the regional jet. Despite some sales these days, the CRJ was eclipsed by the Embraer J-Jet. Bombardier photo.

Bombardier invented the regional jet. Despite some sales these days, the CRJ was eclipsed by the Embraer J-Jet. Bombardier photo.

Oct. 10, 2016, © Leeham Co.: Regional aircraft are much riskier assets for lessors than mainline aircraft.

Until recently, Bombardier and Embraer were the only two regional jet Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).

Today, the Sukhoi SSJ100 and the Mitsubishi MRJ90 join BBD and EMB in this arena.


  • Bombardier’s regional jets CRJ series enjoyed a good life with airlines and lessors, but fell into disfavor as fuel prices spiked.
  • BBD’s CSeries was ordered by four lessors, but two of them have question marks.
  • Embraer’s E-Jet found good homes with lessors, but some worry about supply-and-demand in the secondary market.

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Boeing positioned to narrow market share gap

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Figure 1 A320neo b 737 Max

Market sahre data from February–little has changed since–for sales of the A320neo vs 737 MAX families.

Sept. 22, 2016, © Leeham Co.: Early this year Boeing officials began a new message in pushing back against market data that show Airbus captured about 60% of the single aisle market in the A320neo vs 737 MAX sector.

There’s plenty of time, Boeing said, for the MAX to catch up to the neo. Just look, officials said. Southwest Airlines and Ryanair ordered only a fraction of the MAXes they need to replace the 737s they currently operate.

Airbus, on the other hand, has hundreds more neos ordered by the likes of new airlines such as AirAsia and Indigo.

The implication is that the AirAsia and Indigo orders are not as solid as the potential for Southwest and Ryanair.

It’s a fair point.

But it’s not the whole story.


  • An analysis of airlines that have not ordered the A320neo or 737 MAX families shows Boeing has more upside potential.
  • Boeing companies still have thousands of orders yet to be placed.
  • Forecasting ahead, Boeing has a solid prospect of narrowing the market share gap with Airbus—but probably not closing it entirely.

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LCC changes face of long-haul

By Bjorn Fehrm

21 September 2016, ©. Leeham Co: Norwegian has announced that it has now flown its three millionth passenger on their long-haul network.


Figure 1. Norwegian Air Shuttle long-haul 787. Source: Wikimedia.

Norwegian first launched low-cost flights from Scandinavia to the U.S. in May 2013, followed by services from London to the US beginning in July 2014. Today, the airline offers 37 nonstop routes between Europe and the U.S. with a steady load factor of 90 per cent or more – in August this year, Norwegian’s long-haul flights achieved a 96 per cent load factor.

As we wrote last week the carrier will augment this network with the arrival of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 next spring. Norwegian has now obtained a UK Operating License which allows the airline access to markets in Asia, Africa and South America. With the MAX 8 and the 787 Norwegian will have a powerful fleet which can operate both on thin long-haul destination as well as larger ones.

Southwest Airlines, Ryanair and JetBlue is also eyeing long haul when they get their longer range 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo. Add to that the established AirAsia X and Jetstar are now on a steady long-haul expansion. The world-wide long-haul market is in for a major change. Read more

Book review: Glory Lost and Found

Sept. 8, 2016Glory Lost and Found: How Delta Climbed from Despair to Dominance in the Post-9/11 Era is a ponderous title for a ponderous book.

But this is not a criticism.

Glory Lost is one of the best books I’ve ever read about the turmoil in the airline industry. Authors Seth Kaplan and Jay Shabat, two journalists, put together a book of nearly 450 pages that goes beyond just the focus of how Delta Air Lines spiraled into bankruptcy following 9/11, emerged and suffered through more travails after the 2008 financial market meltdown.

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Will United’s new president open door for Airbus?

Scott Kirby moves from president of American Airlines to president of United Airlines. Photo via Google images.

Scott Kirby moves from president of American Airlines to president of United Airlines. Photo via Google images.

Aug. 30, 2016, © Leeham Co.: Will Scott Kirby’s move from president of American Airlines to the same position at United Airlines lead to a major shift in fleet acquisition at the Chicago-based carrier?

This is an intriguing question that may take some time to answer.

Kirby spent 20 years with American CEO Doug Parker through their careers at America West Airlines, US Airways and American.

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Boeing 787: Stable Rate, Hike Rate or Cut Rate

Aug. 2, 2016, © Leeham Co.: Boeing officials increasingly downplay the prospect of the 787 production rate increasing to 14/mo by the end of the decade from the current 12/mo, reflecting uncertainty over the strength of the wide-body market in the near-to-medium term.

Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of The Boeing Co., said during the company’s 2Q2016 earnings call July 27 that “we haven’t pinned down a specific decision point [on ramping up to 14/mo] yet because we’re going to keep a close eye on the market. The signals from our customers, we’ve got time to do our due diligence here.

787 O&D Figure 1

Figure 1. Boeing 787 Orders and Deliveries. Click on image to enlarge.

“Our principle here is to keep wide body supply and demand in balance. And we’re confident in the 787 program across that span of scenarios, and we’re going to continue to work campaigns to fill out to the 14 a month rate step-up, and we’ll evaluate timelines and decisions around that. But you can be very confident that whatever we decide, we’re going to keep supply and demand in balance. We’re going to do it efficiently and productively, and all of this again is enveloped by our expectation of a year-over-year cash growth business.”

Boeing noted that the program is sold out in 2018 and has some slots available in 2019. At rate 12, the likelihood of these slots being filled may be challenging. Although the number itself isn’t great—27, according to Ascend—finding enough customers for delivery in 2019 could be challenging in the current soft environment, and with competition from a much lower priced Airbus A330, whether a CEO or NEO. The challenge becomes greater the farther out in the future.

If Boeing went to rate 14, this is another 24 airplanes per year that have to be sold. (Figure 1.)

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Dearth of wide-body order hang over Airbus, Boeing

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July 25, 2016, © Leeham Co.: It wasn’t a good two weeks for wide-body airplanes.

AirbusNewWeek 1: Virtually no new orders for wide-bodies were announced at the Farnborough Air Show.

Airbus, responding to a leak to the Paris newspaper La Tribune, confirmed it will reduce production for the A380 from 20/yr in 2017 to 12/yr in 2018—returning the program to a loss.

Boeing firmed up an MOU announced at the Paris Air Show with Volga Dnepr for 20 747-8Fs, but wouldn’t say how many are firm orders and how many are options.

Week 2: Boeing took nearly $1.7bn in after-tax write downs for the 787 and 747-8 programs.

Boeing LogoAmerican Airlines rescheduled all of its Airbus A350 XWB orders for two years to preserve cash.

And, while not directly tied to wide-bodies per se, Delta Air Lines announced it will reduce its trans-Atlantic services for a variety of reasons. Most of these services are performed with wide-body aircraft.

  • Boeing has just 34 wide-body orders through July 19.
  • Airbus has 56 wide-body orders through June 30.
  • Farnborough orders not yet included.
  • A “bubble burst” or just part of a normal cycle?

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