US Regional Consolidation Began Before Covid

Second in a Series on the Future of Regionals

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Introduction

By Kathryn B. Creedy

Aug. 6, 2020, (c) Leeham News: Many might assume the recent loss of three regionals – Compass, Trans States and ExpressJet – is Covid related.

What is actually happening is the long-anticipated consolidation of the regional airline industry coupled with fleet restructuring and the most recent fallout of the pilot shortage crisis that began in 2013.

Reducing the number of regional partners also streamlines the inherent inefficiencies of the regional/major model.

Summary
  • Regional airline industry is volatile.
  • Mainline-regional model broken for many years.
  • Rising costs eliminate some advantages.

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Restoring capacity with the A330ceo or A330neo, Part 4

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

July 9, 2020, © Leeham News: Last week, we started the analysis of restoring capacity with the Airbus A330-300 or the A330-900 when reopening international traffic after the COVID-19 lockdown.

As we did with the A330-200 versus the A330-800, we fly them side by side between Paris Charles de Gaulle and Sao Polo’s Guarulhos airports. It’s a 13-hour flight with maximum freight in the cargo bays to gain revenue in addition to our part full cabin.

Will the payload-range of the A330-300 or A330-900 be sufficient to load the aircraft for maximum revenue on the route? We use our airliner performance model to find out.

Summary
  • The A330-300 has gradually got more range as the Maximum TakeOff Weight (MTOW) has grown. The example highlights the limitations that still exits in this model of the A330.
  • The A330-900 adds another nine tonnes MTOW over the highest MTOW A330-300. To what extent does it fix the A330-300 limitations on this route?

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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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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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Shall passenger airliners run as freighters during the COVID-19 crisis?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

April 6, 2020, © Leeham News: With the COVID-19 pandemic, the passenger traffic has ground to a halt in many countries. The airliners are parked and their crews sit idle.

At the same time, the air freight market booms. From a decline in demand in the first months of the year, there isn’t enough freighter capacity right now. The freight that traveled in the bellies of the passenger jets had to find new ways and as this was almost half the world’s air cargo, the dedicated freighters can’t absorb the volumes.

Is it time to fly passenger airliners as substitute freighters? Some airlines are doing this on a spot basis. Apart from injecting capacity for needed medical supply freight, does it make economic sense? We run a series of articles on the subject.

Figure 1. Delta flies an A350-900 as a belly freighter between Shanghai and Chicago three times a week from March 30. Source: Delta.

Summary:
  • Freight prices soar as capacity collapses when airlines ground passenger jets.
  • For the airlines, the cost equation changes with an abundance of free capacity at remaining fixed costs.
  • Does it make economic sense to run passenger airliners as freighters in this situation?

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Why bailouts make sense under these circumstances

By Scott Hamilton

Commentary

By Scott Hamilton

March 18, 2020, © Leeham News: The Federal government is preparing a bailout, said to be more than $1 trillion, to pump into the US economy.

Airlines want $50bn. Boeing wants $60bn for the aerospace industry. It’s unclear how much is for Boeing and how much is for industry.

Opposition for the airlines and Boeing was quick to emerge. The objection: how much each spent in recent years on shareholder buybacks.

The bailout package goes across the US economy and includes direct cash grants to individuals. In keeping with LNA’s business, I focus in the column only on aviation.

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US carriers not at imminent risk of bankruptcy despite potential shutdown

By Judson Rollins

March 16, 2020, © Leeham News: Throughout Sunday afternoon and evening, reports – all unconfirmed – began to emerge in the US that as early as today, the Trump administration may announce a suspension of US passenger flights domestically for 2-4 weeks. The suspension, if confirmed, could begin this week. Investors are scrambling to understand how long US airlines can survive on their current cash balances.

LNA reviewed the balance sheets of carriers worldwide in anticipation of such dramatic events. In this article, we will show that US airlines have plenty of time for demand to recover – or the US government to step in with emergency loans or grants similar to those doled out by the Air Transportation Stabilization Board from 2001 to 2003.

This airplane line-up at Chicago O’Hare Airport could be a thing of the past very soon. Source: Pinterest.

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Air Canada inaugurates A220-300 service today

Jan. 16, 2020, © Leeham News: Air Canada inaugurates Airbus A220-300 service today, becoming the second North American carrier to operate the A220. Delta Air Lines was the first, with the A220-100 last year.

Air Canada A220-300. Photo by Scott Hamilton.

It is the first North American airline to operate the -300 model. The new service begins on the Montreal-Calgary route.

Airline and Airbus officials paid homage to Bombardier at a celebration yesterday in an Air Canada hanger down the block from Bombardier’s world headquarters on the edges of Montreal Dorval Airport.

Bombardier designed the aircraft, originally called C Series, in a bet-the-company challenge to Airbus and Boeing.

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Can the DHC 8-400 compete with the CRJ550 for the 50 seat Scope Clause market? Part 2.

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

November 21, 2019, © Leeham News: Last week we started our analysis of the De Havilland Canada’s DHC 8-400 as a replacement for US Scope Clause 50 seat jets like the Bombardier CRJ200 or the Embraer ERJ-145.

We compared a newly produced and adapted DHC 8-400 with United’s CRJ-700 conversion to CRJ550, a 50-seater version of the larger jet. After looking at the airplane dimensions and cabin spaces last week we now go deeper into the configuration of the aircraft and their economics.

Summary:

    • The DHC 8-400 is offered as a 50 seater and 65 seater variant to fit the US Scope Clause market.
    • The Turboprop has a cost advantage over the jet at the cost of a 20% longer trip time.

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Can the DHC 8-400 compete with a CRJ550 for the 50 seat Scope Clause market?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

November 14, 2019, © Leeham News: The US mainline airlines have large fleets of 50-seater regional jets that are getting old. The present Scope Clause limits on the number of aircraft with seating over 50 seats stop the mainlines from replacing these aircraft with larger aircraft. So there is a real need for an efficient 50 seater regional aircraft for the US market.

As there are no 50 seater jets in production, United is converting its 70 seater CRJ700s to 50 seaters to fill the gap and calls them the CRJ550. This is where de Havilland Canada sees a change for an adapted DHC 8-400 turboprop. It’s more efficient than a CRJ550 while offering the same comfort, says de Havilland. We check if this is correct and what chances a DHC 8-“550” have in this market.

Summary:

  • The US Scope Clauses allow the three mainlines to have more 1,000 50 seater jets, yet no new ones are available to replace the more than 600 in the market.
  • The in-production DHC 8-400 would be an alternative when looking at cabin size and dimensions.

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