Singapore 777-9 order pressures, but does not kill A380

Feb. 16, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Last week’s order by Singapore Airlines for 20 Boeing 777-9s and 19 Boeing 787-10s immediately was viewed by some as the death

Boeing 777-9.

knell for the Airbus A380.

The 777-9 order would start the final spiral down for the A380, some contend.

This overstates the case and misunderstands the nature of the order.

The A380 is in trouble, there no doubt about that. The 777-9 is putting pressure on the A380. There’s no doubt about this, either. But the contention the Singapore 777-9 order sends the A380 on a death spiral is wild fantasy.

An Airbus official appears today at the annual conference of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA) in Lynnwood (WA). Undoubtedly, he will maintain the party line that the future of the A380 is solid. This, too, overstates the case. There can be a future for the airplane, but some major decisions must be made.

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A380, from flagship to LCC mass transport

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 23, 2017, ©. Leeham Co: The Airbus A380 was introduced as the flagship aircraft for an airline’s fleet. Legacy carriers with a large long-haul network introduced the aircraft on the routes with the most traffic in the network. After an initial rush of inductions, only Emirates continued to buy the aircraft in larger numbers. The aircraft had become too large for the airlines which sought frequency over capacity at their hub airports.

Airbus and its leasing partner, Amedeo, are convinced the aircraft will have a second spring when airport congestion has grown in the next decade. Until then, both are seeking the market niches that will keep production at minimum one aircraft per month.

We sat with Amedeo’s CEO, Mark Lapidus, at the Air Finance Journal conference in Dublin to find out what market will require a new or used A380. Lapidus has spent the last two years in meetings with the world’s major airlines, discussing all aspects of operating an A380. He presented some surprises.

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A380 cost analysis

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Introduction

Jan. 23, 2017, © Leeham Co.: In a sister article, we will describe how Airbus A380 might change from a flagship aircraft for legacy carriers to a competitive tool for long-range LCCs.

This change of the A380’s profile is based on bringing cabin densities to the levels of other long haul aircraft. We have historically made detailed operating costs studies of the A380 versus other large long-haul aircraft.

With the possible change in the aircraft’s operating profile, we decided to update the study with the A380ceo pitted against its main competitors, Boeing’s 777-300ER and 777-9. Different from the previous study, we now compared all aircraft in a higher density, two-class seating.

Summary:
  • The A380neo is pushed out in time for now. Airbus has instead started a cabin density program.
  • We update the study of A380 versus its main competitors to see if the cabin changes goes far enough.
  • In the last study, the A380 had lower seat mile cost than 777-300ER but was beaten by the 777-9.
  • We check if a denser cabin makes the A380 competitive with the 777-9

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Is Emirates in trouble?

Introduction

Jan. 12, 2017, © Leeham Co.: There are a growing number of articles around the Emirates airline that points to recent weaknesses in the airline’s operating model. Here are just two:

We decided it was time for a deeper look at this locomotive from the Arab Emirates. Is Emirates in trouble? How solid is it?

We studied the economics for the last decade and took a deep look at the fleet needs, including, has  Emirates committed to too many aircraft being delivered over the next several years?

They have just deferred Airbus A380’s for the first time. Used to be they could not get them fast enough?

Summary:
  • Emirates has been profitable since start 1985.
  • Its unprecedented growth in revenue and passengers has slowed down.
  • The low fuel price has kept profits up for now, but yield and load factors are down.
  • With a flexible fleet structure and a strong balance sheet Emirates has a strong position to weather any storm going forward.

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2017, a tougher year for European airlines?

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 5, 2017, ©. Leeham Co: The last two years have seen increased profits for the airline industry. Lower priced fuel gave the industry time to breath and to finally earn a reasonable Return on Invested Capital (ROIC).

Earnings as a percent of revenue for the industry has been increasing from 5% on a worldwide basis in 2014 to around 10% for 2016, Figure 1.

Figure 1. Airline industry profits. Source; IATA presentation October 2016.

The US and European airlines have been topping the earnings with 18% on revenue for the third quarter of 2016. There are many signs this will not continue in 2017, especially for European airlines. Read more

Analyzing the Top Customers for Airbus and Boeing

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Introduction

Jan. 4, 2017, © Leeham Co.: The top 25 Airbus customers that are identified account for 63% for the current backlog, an analysis of the company’s order list shows.

For Boeing, its Top 25 customers account for 69% of its identified backlog.

Both companies have hundreds of Unidentified orders for which no customer is disclosed.

Summary
  • “China Inc.” is Boeing’s #1 identified customer and #3 for Airbus.
  • Two low cost carriers are the first and second top customer for Airbus.
  • Three low cost carriers follow “China Inc.” as Boeing’s Top Customers.
  • Boeing’s Top 3 wide-body customers are in the Middle East, where financial and traffic results are beginning to soften.
  • Three of Airbus’ Top 5 customers are also from the Middle East. The other two are from Asia.
  • Boeing has 54% of the market share among the Top wide-body customers. Airbus has a 54% market share in the narrow-body sector.

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Pontifications: Embraer, contrary to others, looks to momentum in 2017

By Scott Hamilton

Jan. 3, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier look toward 2017 as a bit of a punk year, as detailed in our Look Ahead for subscribers only. Not so by Embraer.

In an exclusive interview, John Slattery, the president of Embraer Commercial, said EMB will gain “momentum” this year. This is at a time where sales at the other three of the Big Four OEMs are expected to slow off an already slow 2016.

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Norwegian, others have vision; US airlines don’t

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Introduction

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.

Summary
  • 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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Emirates feels low-cost, long-haul competition

Note: Nov. 24 and 25 are Thanksgiving Holidays in the US. Our next post will be Monday.

By Bjorn Fehrm

23 November 2016, ©. Leeham Co: Emirates Airline president Tim Clark says the carrier “has to change its approach to long-haul pricing to combat increasing competition” after presenting a half year 2016 profit which plunged 64% on 9 November.

The reason is that traditional mainline carriers are entering the low-cost, long-haul market in addition to the established LCC entrants: Norwegian Air Shuttle, AirAsiaX and Wow Air.

emirates-a380

Figure 1. Emirates long-haul A380. Source: Emirates.

Emirates will add new low-cost fares to keep its growing fleet of Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 filled. Clark states this is necessary and that the airline will not back down on its plans for additional aircraft. It will be a period “of fierce competition as more and more international network carriers are entering low-cost, long-haul,” declares the COO.

What has changed? Isn’t Emirates the Kings of competitive long-haul travel? Read more

Pontifications: A380 “oh-woe-is-me” valid, if premature

Hamilton ATR

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 19, 2016, © Leeham Co. The real (very boring) headline should be: “Aircraft lease reaches end.”

This was the wry comment by Alasdair Whyte of Aircraft Investor last week, reporting on media coverage of Singapore Airlines’ decision to return its first Airbus A380 at the end of its lease term.

The “oh-woe-is-me” series of media stories ignored that Singapore routinely flips its fleet about every 10-12 years. SQ also has five A380s on order that, wonder of wonders, arrive as the earliest models become of age.

It is particularly distressing that one trade publication that should know better jumped on the woe-is-me bandwagon.

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