Exclusive: Mitsubishi ponders restarting CRJ production

By Scott Hamilton

July 6, 2021, © Leeham News: Mitsubishi is considering restarting production of the discontinued CRJ, LNA confirmed with multiple sources.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries discontinued production with the completion of the last of the small backlog it acquired with the June 1, 2019, purchase of the program from the ailing Bombardier. The final 15 CRJ900s were completed during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Montreal Mirabel Airport production line was shut down. The tooling was removed and stored. The buildings were turned over to Airbus, which now uses them for A220 production.

 

Source: Bombardier.

“Our primary focus remains the support of the CRJ operating fleet,” said Ross Mitchell, vice president of Shared Services.  “Clearly, the regional jet market is important to us, but we have made no commitment to move forward in this respect.”

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The A350, Part 5: The A350-900 versus 777-200ER

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

February 11, 2021, © Leeham News: Last week, we started analyzing the main member of the Airbus A350 family, the A350-900. It’s the design center for the A350 family and has so far 747 orders, of which 354 are delivered.

Over 1,000 Boeing 777 airliners in the market need replacement, and the A350-900 targets about half of these, the 777-200 and -200ER. Delta is one airline that started the switch from 777-200ER to A350-900. How much does Delta stand to gain?

Summary
  • The 777-200ER broke the ground for oceanic twin-engine flights. It offered an improved economy on trans-oceanic routes.
  • Airliner technology advanced for the 18 years younger A350-900, spurred on by Boeing’s technical leaps with the 787 Dreamliner.
  • As the A350-900 employed these gains in the 777-200ER size class, it does to the 777-200ER what it did to Airbus A340-300, it wins the economy race hands down. Read more

Pontifications: 2020 Retrospective–the worst ever seen

By Scott Hamilton

Dec. 21, 2020, © Leeham News: This is my last Pontification of 2020. I’ll be off between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

It’s only fitting to look back at what is the worst year in commercial aviation—ever.

I’ve just completed my 41st year in this industry. I’ve seen two Gulf Wars, SARS, 9/11, the Great Recession and several economic cycles.

Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas exited the commercial airliner business.

I’ve seen three groundings: the McDonnell Douglas DC-10, Boeing 787 and 737 MAX. I’ve been on site of two significant crashes: the American Airlines DC-10 in Chicago and Delta Air Lines’ 727 in Dallas. I flew over a third, a Delta L-1011 in Dallas the day after it happened.

I worked for the first new airline certified by the Civil Aeronautics Board in 40 years, the first Midway. I also went through one bankruptcy and one merger, each part of the deregulation shake-out.

As a reporter, I covered some of the business giants, including Bob Crandall, Herb Kelleher, John Leahy and others.

It’s been a great four decades.

But nothing compares to the global industry disaster of 2020.

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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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