Editor’s Note: As Airbus and Boeing consider new airplanes, their current generation aircraft are plagued with technical issues. The engines on the A320neo and 737 MAX families continue to have problems years after entry into service. The Boeing 787, which had ground-breaking technology when it was designed, has production issues. Flight testing early on revealed technical problems with the engine on the 777X, prompting the president of Emirates Airline to publicly suggest he won’t accept delivery until the engines are fully “mature.”
Aviation Week’s Check 6 podcast last week examined Boeing’s path toward a new airplane. Boeing CEO David Calhoun insists on waiting for new technology. But “new technology,” while in theory is a great idea, the phrase also scares people. LNA reported on this in March 2020. We’re reposting this article from then.
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By Scott Hamilton
March 16, 2020, © Leeham News: “I can tell you from our perspective, we’re kind of sick and tired of new, new technology. It’s not proven to be the home run.”
This blunt assessment comes from the chief executive officer of the big aircraft lessor, Avolon.
Domhnal Slattery, the CEO, was giving his critique of whether Boeing should launch a new airplane once the 737 MAX crisis is over. (Update: Since this interview, Slattery retired from Avolon.)
Boeing was on a path to decide whether to launch the New Midmarket Airplane when the MAX was grounded one year ago this month.
Airbus was waiting for Boeing to move before deciding how to respond.
By Vincent Valery
May 3, 2022, © Leeham News: Most passenger airlines incurred severe losses in 2020. However, last year, LNA showed that most lessors had a far less challenging 2020 than their customers. Many lessors managed to turn a profit in 2020.
As a future LNA article will show, the financial fortunes of most passenger airlines significantly improved in 2021 compared with 2020. We will now analyze how the largest lessors that publish their accounts performed in 2021.
By Judson Rollins
June 10, 2021, © Leeham News: Residual values and lease rates have plummeted to record lows for previous-generation widebodies like the A330, 767, and 777. Inventories continue to build around the world, and prices appear set to fall even further.
At the same time, business travel ground to a near-halt in most regions. Even in countries where domestic leisure travel rebounded, like the US or China, average fares are down 20%-40%.
Southwest Airlines describes itself as a “low-fare carrier.” With business and premium-cabin traffic expected to take 3-4 years to return and be permanently impaired to some extent, every airline may be a low-fare carrier for years to come.
With higher-density seat configurations, more flexible scheduling – and, most importantly, the lower capital costs of used aircraft – new low-cost carriers (LCCs) could break even on long-haul routes with materially lower revenue than their predecessors.
This confluence of events has created a once-in-a-generation, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime, opportunity for new airlines to achieve a sustainable cost advantage over legacy carriers weighed down by capital-intensive aircraft, expensive crew contracts, and record-high debt service costs.
By Judson Rollins
June 3, 2021, © Leeham News: Lessors are expected to write down the value of their widebodies as the long-haul travel slump appears set to extend well beyond this year, LNA reported last week.
A tidal wave of excess widebodies has reduced ownership costs to historic lows. Prices will only go lower as lessors finally initiate distressed-asset sales, and lease rates will continue to fall as used widebody inventory grows.
A confluence of factors, topped by the availability of lower-cost used widebodies, could increase the cost advantage of low-cost carriers over legacy competitors – at the same time reduced business travel and lower yields reduce the gap between legacy and LCC unit revenue.
By Judson Rollins
May 27, 2021, © Leeham News: As central banks pumped liquidity into the global economy over the past 15 months, aviation has attracted a steady stream of investor interest.
However, aircraft transactions have been few and far between apart from growth in sale-leasebacks. An expected wave of lessor consolidation has been limited to one major transaction, the AerCap/GECAS merger announced in March. Even this was likely driven by GECAS parent General Electric’s push to dismantle its finance business, GE Capital.
Fly Leasing, a lessor with just 84 aircraft, sold itself to private equity firm Carlyle Aviation Partners in March. These have been the only lessor mergers or acquisitions to date, despite wide speculation the COVID pandemic would spur many lessors to combine.
A lack of merger activity is likely because aircraft leasing is not a business with large economies of scale.
Widebody aircraft values have fallen 30%-40% since the start of 2020, according to the UK appraiser Ishka. Relatively few of these aircraft have been written down on lessor balance sheets, but more are expected to be so toward the end of this year.
By Kathryn B. Creedy
Air Lease Executive Chair Steven Udvar Hazy expects lessors to play a larger role in aircraft fleeting in the future, according to comments made during yesterday’s Aviation Week Fireside Chat with the lessor.
“I don’t see lessors going below 40%,” he told Air Transport World Editor Karen Walker. “I see it creeping up to perhaps 50% or 55% and that includes operating leases and various other exotic mechanisms.”
Udvar Hazy pointed to the poor financial shape of the world’s airlines which have used all their current levers to increase liquidity to ride out the Covid 19 crisis.
By Scott Hamilton
March 11, 2020, © Leeham News: Some airlines already are asking for rent relief as a result of widespread groundings of aircraft because of the coronavirus.
BOC Aviation, Avolon and Air Lease Corp are just three lessors acknowledging they’ve already been asked for relief. They spoke on the sidelines of an aviation industry conference in Austin last week.
In last week’s analysis, LNA examined which airlines in greater China and the rest of Asia may be in imminent risk of financial distress due to the growing coronavirus outbreak. We found that airlines from Malaysia to Japan have significant exposure to the Chinese market. Several have shaky balance sheets and were already losing money prior to the outbreak, most notably AirAsia, AirAsiaX, Thai Airways, Nok Air, Malaysia Airlines, and Asiana.
The coronavirus outbreak has now spread to Europe and the Middle East, but we are continuing our focus on Asia as it’s been most greatly affected so far. Additional analysis focusing on Europe will follow, with particular attention to the potential for further airline consolidation on the continent.
LNA reviewed ownership and operating data on aircraft to understand top manufacturer and lessor exposure to greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Macau, and the rest of East Asia.
By Bjorn Fehrm
January 22, 2020, ©. Leeham News, Dublin: The yearly Air Finance Journal conference finished its second day with a Q&A with the top executives of the Leasing industry.
The Leasing companies buy 40% of all new airliners from the likes of Airbus and Boeing, to later rent them to the airlines on a monthly basis.
With 40% of all new aircraft delivered to these companies, their view on where we are in the cycle and what are the main challenges facing air transport is important.
The main topics during the three-day conference are the state of the airlines, the ease or difficulty to finance the purchase of $50bn of aircraft per year and the growing issue of air transport and the environment.
Aug. 5, 2019, © Leeham News: Airbus last week won a big, validating commitment from Air France-KLM Group for 60 orders and more options for the A220-300.
The contract won’t be firm until later this year, but the AF Memorandum of Understanding (when converted) brings the A220 order book to 611. There are some other commitments that haven’t yet been converted to orders.
Through mid-July, there were 86 A220s in service. There were 465 Letters of Intent, MOUs and Options before the Air France deal was announced.
But of those firm orders, 110 of them aren’t so firm. In fact, some of them really shouldn’t even be on the books.