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Weekly COVID-19 aviation update: Nine in 10 of UK’s pre-pandemic international seats fail to get airborne as airlines pin hopes on second-half demand recovery

February 25, 2021

Airlines respond to the UK government’s latest border controls and quarantine requirements by operating fewer than 10% of last year’s international seats into and out of the country.

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Cirium weekly COVID-19 aviation industry update – February 25, 2021.

Airlines have responded to the UK government’s latest tightening of border controls and quarantine requirements by operating fewer than 10% of last year’s international seats into and out of the country.

Just over 28,500 passenger jet seats were flown into the UK from overseas airports on February 24  – equivalent to the level previously seen in mid-June 2020 during the first coronavirus wave.

Pre-pandemic capacity had been running at a daily level of almost 400,000, when the UK accounted for approximately one in 15 international passenger seat arrivals globally. Available seats fell to below 11,000 in late-April, recovering to 200,000 in late August before slumping again to 35,000 in late-November. A brief mini-peak of nearly 140,000 was reached in the run up to Christmas, prior to the UK entering a third national lock-down in early-January.

Cirium data shows that Spain had suffered by far the largest decline in seat capacity for UK flights on a year-over-year, seven-day rolling average basis as of February 24, while the USA accounted for the largest number of daily seats being flown. Some countries, such as Portugal, have seen UK flights completely suspended.

The UK’s renewed slump comes as optimism grows that restrictions on outbound international travel could start to be relaxed as early as late-May, subject to sustained reductions in COVID-19 case rates, hospitalisations and deaths while a national vaccination program continues apace. Airlines and travel companies have reported a recent surge in bookings for trips during the second half of 2021.

The International Air Transport Association warned earlier this week that barriers to air travel were “rising in all regions” with Asia remaining the region hampered by the most stringent controls. Europe was ranked in second place, according to the organization’s ‘international travel stringency index’.

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Cirium weekly COVID-19 aviation industry update – February 23, 2021.

Grounding of P&W-powered 777s highlights declining appeal of legacy models

The temporary grounding of Pratt & Whitney (P&W) PW4000-powered Boeing 777s (following a suspected metal fatigue-induced fan blade failure on a United Airlines aircraft) has had limited impact on global fleet capacity, as the legacy type had fallen out of favor with operators since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daily flights by all in-service 777-200/200ER widebody twins –including GE Aviation GE90 and Rolls-Royce Trent 800-equipped models – in February were down by more than three-quarters compared with mid-2019, at fewer than 200. (As an aside, today’s graphic also shows the impact of Typhoon Hagibis which struck Japan on October 12 2019, causing the cancellation of half of flights by P&W-powered 777s for that day.)

All 51 operational passenger-configured, PW4000-powered 777s (out of the global fleet of 125) had been removed from service by February 23, including 15 stretched -300 models operated by All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines and Korean Air. United had by far the largest total inventory of PW4000-equipped aircraft with a 52-strong fleet of -200/200ER models, of which 19 had been in service prior to the February 20 engine failure.

Meanwhile just over one third of the 183 remaining Rolls-Royce Trent 800-powered 777-200/200ER/300s were classified as in-service as of February 23, alongside approximately half of the 147 GE90-equipped examples including 11 in United’s fleet. By contrast, 664 of the newer-generation and exclusively GE90-powered, passenger-configured 777-200LRs and -300ERs were in service, leaving only 174 in storage.

The US National Transportation Safety Board is co-ordinating with Pratt & Whitney to determine if metal fatigue caused two fan blades of a PW4000 engine to break off during United flight 328 on February 20.

Learn more about Cirium Aircraft Watch.

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Cirium weekly COVID-19 aviation industry update – February 18, 2021.

Growing A320neo in-service fleet suppresses return of older models from storage

Airlines are operating almost nine in 10 of the nearly 1,200 Airbus A320neo narrowbody twinjets delivered to date, while more than a third of the over 4,100-strong legacy A320ceo fleet remains in storage, highlighting the extent to which the latest generation model is being preferred by carriers.

Cirium’s baseline recovery scenario nevertheless calls for most sub-20-year-old A320s to return to service eventually, assuming passenger demand recovers by 2023-24. However fewer could be re-activated if Airbus chooses to raise A320neo production rates more quickly than is currently envisaged. Cirium fleets data shows as of February 18 2021 there were 215 A320s older than 20 years in service, plus 218 more in storage.

The lower-capacity A319ceo has been disproportionally impacted by the COVID-19-induced slump in demand, with 500 aircraft inactive and only 745 in service. Meanwhile just over 500 of the larger A321ceo are also inactive, but nearly 1,200 are in service, and a mere 13% of the nearly 500 re-engined A321neos delivered so far are stored.

At February 18 Cirium classified over 32% of the global Western-built passenger jet fleet as having in-storage status.

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Cirium weekly COVID-19 aviation industry update – February 16, 2021

Fears of second COVID-19 wave fail to subdue recovery of India’s domestic market

India’s domestic market has staged a remarkable recovery measured by tracked passenger jet flights following an almost complete shutdown during April and most of May last year, to reach almost four fifths of the pre-pandemic level by February 15.

Low-cost carrier IndiGo dominated, accounting for over half of the nearly 2,000 domestic services operated daily on a seven-day rolling average basis. By sharp contrast, total daily international arrivals into Indian airports by Indian carriers were running at barely 100 – well below half the normal level – with IndiGo running fewer than 30.

Cirium fleets data showed that Indigo had all of its 120 Airbus A320neos and 30 A321neos in service, while 37 of its 100 A320ceos remained in storage. On February 15, over 210 of its aircraft were tracked in flight, each spending an average of 7.9 hours in the air which was down approximately 16% year-over-year.

India’s just under 11 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 placed it behind only the USA in the global ranking. However reported daily infection rates among the country’s 1.3 billion-strong population appear to have been declining sharply and fatalities were officially running at fewer than 100 a day, while the economy has been fully reopened.

China also staged a strong domestic recovery following a first wave of COVID-19 infections early last year, but flight activity had been heavily impacted by renewed outbreaks in the run up to Lunar New Year earlier this month.

At February 15 Cirium classified just over 5% of Indian-operated passenger jets as having in-storage status, compared with the global figure of over 32%.

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Cirium weekly COVID-19 aviation industry update – February 11, 2021

China’s tentative domestic bounce-back raises hopes for renewed V-shaped recovery

Domestic flight activity in China has rebounded sharply during the past several days, apparently marking the conclusion of a dramatic decline prompted by Beijing’s request to its citizens to avoid traveling during the run up to the February 12 Lunar New Year.

Including the very low number of international services, seven-day rolling average daily flights for Chinese operators fell below 6,500 on February 3 – a level last seen in early-May 2020. By February 10 this metric had recovered to nearly 7,500, although it is too early to determine to what extent this increased flight activity was driven by an uptick in passenger demand.

In terms of aircraft activity, around 2,250 Chinese-operated passenger jets were tracked making at least one flight on February 3, while over 1,500 did not get airborne. However, nearly 2,400 aircraft were active on February 10.

Cirium classified just over 8% of the Chinese operated passenger jet fleet as having in-storage status on February 10, equivalent to 310 aircraft. This compared with the global figure of over 32% of passenger jets in storage.

The renewed recovery in China – coupled with a slight uptick in the USA – has pushed overall global domestic flight activity up slightly in recent days, in contrast to international markets where travel remains heavily restricted as governments attempt to contain the spread of more transmissible strains of Covid-19.

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Cirium weekly COVID-19 aviation industry update – February 9, 2021

Europe’s airlines shed more cross-border seat capacity as travel restrictions bite

Intra-European international seat capacity has fallen by half across 10 of the continent’s busiest airports since the pre-Christmas peak, as travelers grapple with the increasingly complex array of restrictions designed to contain the spread of more transmissible strains of COVID-19.

Lisbon Airport’s rolling seven-day arrival seat average was just 3,000 on Monday February 8 – less than a quarter of the December 23 total – following moves by Germany and the UK to ban entry to travelers from the southern European country.

Meanwhile the UK government’s wider tightening of entry restrictions during the nation’s third national lock-down saw London Heathrow’s intra-region arrival seats fall to a little more than 5,100, down from approximately 19,000 just before Christmas. Frankfurt dropped from over 20,300 to just under 10,500 over the same period. On Monday February 10 2020 – the equivalent day a year earlier – Heathrow recorded just under 50,000 inbound seats on cross-border flights from European airports, while Frankfurt saw nearly 51,000.

Although optimism persists that vaccination programs will lead to the phased relaxing of travel restrictions in time for Europe’s summer holiday peak, uncertainty remains over the ability of governments to control Coronovirus mutations against which current vaccines may prove less effective. More data is also needed to assess the full impact of mass vaccinations on case rates and hospitalisations.

Cirium classifies 46% – or just under 3,000 – of the passenger jets operated by European airlines as having in-storage status, which is significantly higher than the global average of 32%.


Cirium weekly COVID-19 aviation industry update – February 4, 2021

US aviation market shows its resilience amid initial signs of declining global COVID-19 cases

The US air transport system has proved relatively resistant to the impact of the second wave of COVID-19 infections measured by daily passenger jet flight arrivals, in contrast to Europe and China which have experienced sharp declines.

Airports in the USA have consistently handled around 13,000 daily flights since mid-July – with activity having edged slightly higher over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods – although the level has remained nearly 50% down compared with a year prior. Published schedules and recent trading updates by US carriers suggest the seat capacity outlook remains relatively stable despite the fact that they continue to post heavy losses.

US Transportation Security Administration passenger checkpoint figures suggest aircraft are however departing US airports significantly emptier on average. During the seven days to February 3rd just under 4.75 million travelers were processed at US airports, which is down more than 69% year over year.

Europe has seen flight arrivals decline by more than half since early September – to a level more than three-quarters down year-over year – due to renewed national lockdowns and heavy restrictions on cross-border travel. Arrivals in China have dropped by nearly half since early-October, albeit from a position of year-over-year growth versus 2019.

There is increasing optimism that travel demand will return in the coming months as confirmed Coronavirus cases show an overall downward trend and increasing proportions of vulnerable populations in many countries receive vaccinations. However much will depend on how and when governments begin to relax travel restrictions and whether they are able to agree consistent rules on eligibility to fly.

The proportion of passenger jets in storage globally has edged up slightly in recent weeks to just under 32%, equivalent to just under 8,400 aircraft.


Cirium weekly COVID-19 aviation industry update – February 2, 2021
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COVID-19 weekly update: North America poised to overhaul Asia Pacific for daily passenger jet flights

Asia Pacific appears destined once again to slip behind North America by volume of tracked daily passenger jet flight arrivals as China’s drive to discourage holiday travel in the run-up to Lunar New Year takes its toll on passenger demand in the region.

Including both domestic and dramatically-curtailed international operations, seven day rolling average flight arrivals at Asia Pacific airports had declined to just over 13,000 by February 1, down from December’s peak of nearly 20,000. North America meanwhile spent the second half of January holding steady at close to 13,000 daily flights, dipping slightly to below 12,800 on February 1 as snow storms affecting the East Coast of the USA began to spur an uptick in flight cancellations.

As the first region to feel the full impact of the initial COVID-19 wave, Asia Pacific flight levels fell below North America in early February 2020 but a faster recovery rate saw their positions reversed again by mid April as the Chinese domestic market powered ahead to record year-over-year growth by early-October. Chinese operators have subsequently suffered a dramatic reversal in fortunes just as the New Year holiday period approaches.

Cirium fleets data shows Asia Pacific operators have 19% of their 8,200 passenger jets in storage, while their North American counterparts have nearly 33% of their more than 7,700 aircraft classified as inactive.

Mass vaccination programs continue to gather momentum in many nations, fueling optimism that travel demand will bounce back later in the year, although concern about the spread of more transmissible virus strains has prompted many governments to further tighten international travel restrictions in the short term.

Global passenger jet flights remain down nearly 54% compared with last year, while approximately 40% fewer aircraft are being tracked each day operating commercial services.

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Cirium weekly COVID-19 aviation industry update – January 29, 2021

Boeing 737 Max rehabilitation enters critical phase as European approval secured

Boeing’s 737 Max is steadily increasing its operational footprint with nearly 120 flights now taking place daily across North and Latin America. European operators are meanwhile set to rejoin the fray following the type’s re-approval by the European Aviation Safety Agency and UK Civil Aviation Authority.

The revival of the Max’s fortunes against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis comes as Boeing finds itself pinning its hopes for financial recovery on a rapid ramp-up of single-aisle deliveries to offset the temporary suspension of 787 handovers to customers, twin-aisle production rate cuts and the latest delay to the 777X programme.

At January 27, 2021 Cirium classified 46 737 Max as having in-service status, comprising 37 Max 8s and nine larger Max 9s. Boeing had meanwhile delivered 47 aircraft since the Max resumed commercial operations on December 9.

Airlines have increasingly turned to sale and leasebacks to bolster their cash reserves and help them survive the Coronavirus-induced collapse in passenger demand. This trend has been strongly reflected in recent Max activity, with 31 of the post service-restart deliveries having been sold to operating lessors and leased back to airlines at the point of handover. A further 13 were direct deliveries to lessors for lease to airlines. That meant only three of this initial batch of deliveries (including one BBJ) did not end up in the hands of lessors.

Meanwhile 385 previously delivered Max remained in storage, and nearly 400 already built had not yet been handed over to customers. American Airines and United have taken all but four and three of their pre-built aircraft, respectively, and have 15 and 13 in service.

The top five carriers with pre-built inventory on Boeing’s books were China Southern, Southwest, Ryanair, Spicejet and Xiamen. Just over 100 Max were allocated to Chinese carriers which are not yet permitted to return the type to commercial service.

Cirium data showed operating lessors managed 24% of in-service Max but accounted for nearly 79% of stored examples and 43% of on-order aircraft.

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Cirium weekly COVID-19 aviation industry update – January 26, 2021

China’s domestic aviation market appears to be entering a renewed slump as the February 12th Lunar New Year approaches, raising the prospect of sharply curtailed travel demand over the holiday period.

The seven-day rolling average for daily domestic passenger jet services flown fell to just over 8,600 on January 25th. This was down almost a third from the peak of over 12,600 flights recorded in early October 2020 – which marked the pinnacle of the dramatic recovery from the downturn caused by the first wave of Covid-19 infections at the start of the year – and was higher than the pre-pandemic peak of 2019. The latest reduction in activity was spread across all major operator groups.

Many hundreds of millions of people who would normally travel to visit relatives to celebrate Chinese New Year have reportedly been told by officials to stay at home. An increase in Coronavirus cases in Hebei province around Beijing, together with other isolated outbreaks in the country, meant that holiday travel overall is expected to be 40% down on 2019, according to China’s transport ministry.

At January 25th Cirium classified just under 300 passenger jets with Chinese operators as being in storage, with nearly 3,500 remaining in service. On this date, just over 2,400 aircraft were tracked operating at least one domestic flight – 15% down on the equivalent day last year –  while average flight hours per active aircraft were down 14% year-over-year at just over 6.1.

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Cirium weekly COVID-19 aviation industry update – January 20, 2021

EasyJet and Ryanair flightpaths diverge in second-wave shutdowns

Europe’s largest low-cost carriers have opted for very different fleet operating strategies to help them ride out the industry crisis, as passenger demand meanwhile collapses once again in the face of a second wave of COVID-19 virus infections and associated travel restrictions.

A glance at Cirium’s visualisations of comparative daily fleet activity for the past 90 days highlights the extent to which EasyJet moved to place aircraft into storage to reduce capacity, while Ryanair continued to fly most of its Boeing 737s at least once every seven days but at a generally lower level of average daily utilisation per aircraft.

January 20, 2021 graph
Source: Cirium Core, filed January 20, 2021

EasyJet (U2), together with its European (EC) and Swiss (DS) operating divisions, had 338 Airbus A320 family aircraft in its fleet as of January 19, of which Cirium classified 193 – or 57% – as being in storage. By contrast, all but seven of Ryanair’s 262 Boeing 737NGs remained in service.

Despite having a smaller proportion of its fleet in service, EasyJet’s rapid ramp-down of operations during the second wave saw average daily flight hours per in-service aircraft for the seven days to January 19 fall to below one, while Ryanair’s figure has declined to less than two. According to Cirium’s tracking sources, EasyJet flew fewer than 50 commercial flight hours on January 19, while Ryanair recorded a little more than 100.

EasyJet flew over 94% fewer flight hours in the seven days to January 19 compared with the equivalent pre-pandemic week, while Ryanair’s year-over-year decline was just over 89%.

Despite the extremely challenging short-term demand outlook, both EasyJet and Ryanair have reported strong upticks in forward bookings for summer 2021 and beyond as sentiment improves on the back of accelerating roll-outs of multiple vaccines in nations across Europe.

Cirium currently classifies just under 31% of the global passenger jet fleet as being in storage.


Cirium weekly COVID-19 aviation industry update – January 13, 2021

The global recovery in domestic passenger jet flight activity has encountered its first significant blip as second waves of Covid-19 infections in several key markets and the emergence of a more transmissible variant impacted traveller sentiment. However there is well-founded optimism that demand can be reinvigorated beyond the first quarter of 2021 as the accelerating roll-outs of multiple vaccines begin to depress case numbers and hospitalizations.

Cirium weekly COVID-19 aviation industry update – January 13, 2021

Domestic markets have not unexpectedly led the recovery so far, improving from a year-over-year decline in weekly-average flights of more than three-quarters in late-April to being less than a quarter down on Christmas Eve. Since the holiday peak this metric has surrendered 10 percentage points to hit -35% on January 12 with the largest markets of China and the USA both trending downwards (the former having shown year-over-year growth up to January 4).

Cross-border flights – which are impacted more severely by government travel restrictions, pre-flight testing requirements and quarantine rules – remain down approximately three-quarters year-over-year.

Cirium classified 30% of the global passenger jet fleet as having in-storage status on January 13.

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Cirium weekly COVID-19 aviation industry update – December 16, 2020

Cirium weekly update — Latin America’s steady progress on the path to recovery

Latin America’s steady progress on the path to recovery during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has seen the region for the first time outpace North America, as US carriers grapple with a post-Thanksgiving slump in passenger demand.

Weekly average passenger jet flight arrivals at Latin American airports had by December 15 improved to a level of just under 46% down on last year, while North American airports saw a decline of nearly 48% versus 2019. By this measure Latin America overtook North America in the second week of December, as flight arrivals in the latter region dropped sharply from a temporary spike spanning the Thanksgiving holiday.

Year-over-year change in passenger flights tracked.

In terms of absolute flight numbers North America’s seven-day average of approximately 13,000 remains well over three times that of Latin America, which recorded a figure of just over 3,700 for December 15. However Latin American airports handled a far greater proportion of international flights – more than a quarter were cross-border services compared with just 8% for the US and Canada combined.

Latin America’s performance was led by Mexico (with total flight arrivals down 33% on last year), followed by Brazil (-41%), Columbia (-49%) and Chile (-52%). On an individual airline basis, Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris flew 7% more flights than last year, while Azul and Gol of Brazil were down 29% and 43%, respectively.

Gol earlier in December became the first operator worldwide to resume revenue flights with the Boeing 737 Max,  and it flew more than 20 services on December 15 using five aircraft. Aeromexico meanwhile is expected to reintroduce the Max before the end of the year.

Cirium continues to classify 31% of the global passenger jet fleet as in-storage, while for Latin America the figure is just over 32%.

Find out more about Cirium’s data and analytics to stay ahead of the curve, here.


Cirium weekly COVID-19 aviation industry update – December 9, 2020

Boeing’s 737 Max program passed the critical milestones of restarting customer aircraft deliveries and resuming airline revenue passenger services on consecutive days in mid-December, but major logistical challenges lie ahead on the path to full reactivation of the fleet.

United Airlines on December 8 became the first operator to receive a new 737 Max since the worldwide grounding of the type in March 2019 in the wake of two fatal accidents. However the carrier does not expect to relaunch its own commercial flights until the first quarter of next year. It has 14 Max in its fleet and a further 170 on order.

On December 9 Brazilian carrier Gol deployed one of its seven 737-8s (two-year-old aircraft PR-XMB) to operate flight G34104, carrying fare-paying passengers between Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre.

Back in February 2019 – the last full month of Max operations prior to the grounding – just over 350 aircraft were tracked in service, logging nearly 31,000 flights with an average air time of 2.9 hours. This compared with the 737NG’s average flight time of just over two hours for the same period, illustrating how airlines were deploying the improved efficiency and greater range capability of the Max.

Boeing 7373 Max top 20 operator storage locations

Boeing has accumulated a total inventory of approximately 450 undelivered Max, while airlines have maintained nearly 400 more in storage since the 2019 grounding order.

The extended flight ban and subsequent Covid-19-sparked industry downturn have taken a heavy toll on the Max’s still sizeable firm order backlog, which in November shrank by a further 88 aircraft to just under 4,200. This followed cancellation of commitments from Air Canada, Air Lease, Virgin Australia and other unidentified customers.

This contrasted with the competing Airbus A320neo family which boasted a firm backlog of just over 5,900 aircraft, in addition to more than 1,500 already delivered.

Discover more Cirium data and analytics to stay ahead of the curve, here.


Cirium weekly update, December 2, 2020

US Thanksgiving period shows airlines flew fewer than half the number of travelers year-over-year, at significantly lower average load factors

Preliminary passenger traffic and seats-flown data covering the US Thanksgiving holiday period shows that airlines flew fewer than half the number of travelers as last year, at significantly lower average load factors.

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened approximately 9.5 million passengers during the 10 days from November 20-29, with daily volumes ranging between 35-45% of 2019’s level. Cirium’s flight tracking data meanwhile recorded year-on-year daily reductions in departing seats from US airports ranging from 30-47%.

The data suggests theoretical system-wide average load factors for flights departing US airports varied between 39-55% across the 10-day Thanksgiving period in 2020, compared with 58-92% for the equivalent travel days last year. However the following provisos apply:

  • Travelers taking connecting flights usually pass through a TSA checkpoint only once, thereby diluting apparent load factors
  • Airline crew may also be included in TSA figures
  • TSA traveler volumes are for US time zone dates while Cirium flights data is for UTC dates
  • Data for 2020 reflects the impact of the disproportionate reduction in international traffic and capacity due to cross-border travel restrictions
US Thanksgiving holiday TSA traveler numbers.

Southwest Airlines flew the most seats over Thanksgiving, with a seven-day rolling daily average of 405,000 at November 29, followed by Delta (292,000), American Airlines (210,000), United Airlines (159,000) and SkyWest (116,000). Meanwhile the seven-day rolling average for total US flight departures was 37% lower than the equivalent day last year, while 29% fewer aircraft were tracked in flight.

US carriers had 32% of their combined passenger aircraft fleet in storage as of December 1, equivalent to just over 2,300 aircraft.

Find out more about Cirium’s data and analytics to stay ahead of the curve, here.

Aviation industry weekly update – November 25, 2020

The A321neo – has bucked the industry trend to show year-on-year growth for weekly flights operated since late-September, hitting a nearly 7% improvement as of November 24.

A significant factor was that the in-service A321neo fleet grew by over half, from 257 aircraft in November 2019 to 392 by November this year. However seven-day rolling average daily flying hours utilization dropped by 25% over the period, from 9.7 at November 26 last year to 7.3 as of November 24 2020.

While the A321neo was the only type to post a year-on-year increase in total daily flights, its rolling weekly average figure was still well below 1,000, compared with the A320ceo at around 7,500 and the much larger Boeing 737-800 fleet which accounted for over 10,000 flights per day on average during the week to November 24.

Year-over-year change in narrowbody passenger jet flights tracked.

The A320neo was the most utilized single-aisle type in terms of daily flying hours, registering a weekly average of 7.6 on November 24, while the 737-800 recorded just over seven. Boeing’s direct competitor to the re-engined A320neo Family range – the 737 Max – is set to return to service later this year following its worldwide grounding in March 2019.

Meanwhile just over one tenth of the A321neo fleet is in storage – equivalent to 45 aircraft – while almost one third of the nearly 1,700 earlier-generation A321ceos are in-active. For the roughly equivalently-sized 737-900, slightly fewer than 100 examples or just over 17% are in storage, while 460 are active.

Narrow-body types have seen a faster recovery in operations than wide-bodies because global daily domestic flights have already recovered to approximately two thirds of the level recorded last year, while international operations continue to decline and are around four-fifths down on last year.

Cirium classifies approximately 31% of the global passenger jet fleet as having in-storage status. Although this figure has remained relatively stable for the past several weeks, it masks a significant level of churn as operators move aircraft in and out of service in an effort to minimize maintenance expenditures.

Aviation industry weekly update – November 18, 2020

Daily tracked flights by narrow-body passenger jets less than five years old are down by less than 16% year-on-year versus a fleet-level decline for single-aisles of nearly 35%, highlighting the extent to which airlines are turning to their youngest aircraft to cope with the collapse in demand due to the COVID-19 crisis.

At the opposite end of the scale, daily flights by narrow-bodies delivered more than 15 years ago have dropped by half as operators seek to minimize operating costs such as fuel and maintenance.

Passenger Narrowbody Jets, number or aircraft tracked, change i average flight hours per aircraft.

The gap in daily usage trends by age is less stark when measured by average daily flight hours per in-service aircraft, where sub five-year-old single-aisles are seeing 23% less airborne time versus 2019. This compares with a 28% deficit for 15-20-year-old examples.

Remaining active aircraft that entered service prior to 2000, however, are seeing somewhat of a renaissance with daily utilization consistently a few percentage points higher than their 15-20-year-old counterparts, potentially indicating a strategy by operators to run down remaining green time prior to retirement.

As of November 18 Cirium classified approximately 4,850 narrow-bodies as having in-storage status, representing just over 28% of the total fleet.

Aviation industry weekly update – November 12, 2020

Passenger jet flight activity tracks upwards in most regions but Europe struggles

Daily passenger jet flight activity has increased across most regions over recent days, with the recovery still led by Asia Pacific which on November 10 saw total arrivals down just under 36% compared with the equivalent day last year. North America was at -46%, followed by Latin America (-51%) and Middle East (-60%).

The notable exception was Europe where weekly average flight arrivals have dropped to nearly 67% below last year’s level, setting the continent’s recovery back to a level of decline last seen in mid-July. Rising Covid-19 cases and re-imposed national lockdowns in countries including France and the UK have prompted many of the region’s airlines to further pare back capacity and return some aircraft to storage.

There remained a huge disparity in the level of international flights versus domestic, with cross-border services languishing at 76% below last year compared with -34% for intra-country operations.

At November 11 Cirium classified 31% of the global passenger jet fleet as having in-storage status, equivalent to just over 8,100 aircraft. However in Europe the proportion was over 35%, whereas only 21% of passenger jets operated by Asia Pacific carriers were inactive.

Change in Daily Passenger Jet Arrivals

737-800 vs A320-200 asset values

Aviation industry weekly update – November 5, 2020

Market values and lease rates continue to slide down at a pace that exceeds what we observed in the 2001 and 2008 downturns.

Aviation asset values

First we review the Airbus A320-200 (5B/A5) values

Airbus A320-200 (5B/A5) Market Values fell by 10-23% due to a mix of lower part-out values and our observations of sales, bids and seller expectations. Values for the Sharklet-equipped model followed accordingly. Availability of aircraft for sale or lease spiked up over the summer and is at its highest level since August 2011. The oldest and youngest vintages declined by 10% while mid-vintages saw the largest drops in value. We are routinely seeing aircraft in the eight to 12-year-old range struggle to command much premium over their older siblings as there is very limited interest in flyers and the part-out buyer market currently lacks liquidity. There is a growing number of aircraft that have now been on the market throughout the summer, with very little interest and some extremely low bids and purchase offers. We have not matched our values to these low bids, but it became clear that it will be very difficult or impossible to sustain previous value levels. Values are significantly below those for the competing 737-800, and this is supported by lower flying activity, with the A320ceo fleet operating 61% fewer flights than a year ago, compared to a reduction of 46% on the 737-800. There is also no immediate freight conversion option for the A320 (unlike the A321 and 737-800), and while a future conversion is in the pipeline, interest so far has been limited. The part-out market has been saturated with spares inventory since Q1 2020 and most part-out companies have no interest in acquiring further A320s at the moment.

In comparison we review values for the Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737-800SF

Boeing 737-800 Market Values fell by 1-15%, with the greatest declines being for older vintages due to lower part-out values and sales transactions observed. The youngest vintage only declined by 1% and the SLB market has still shown confidence in younger examples of the type. Most of the availability is for pre-2010 vintages, although some younger aircraft that came to market were successfully placed with new operators in a surprisingly short amount of time, considering the weak demand environment. Overall, despite the reduction in values, the type is benefitting from the delayed return to service of the Max, evidenced by the number of flights flown by 737-800s which are down 46% year-on-year, compared to the A320 which is operating 61% fewer flights than a year ago. There have also been sales for cargo conversion, with such buyers still offering to pay a meaningful premium over those looking to part-out. The demand for airframe and engine spares is still weak. Available aircraft for sale or lease spiked in August and are at their highest level recorded since we started tracking availability data in 2008. We expect additional surplus aircraft from restructured airlines to come to market in the fourth quarter, putting further pressure on values.

Boeing 737-800SF Market Values fell by up to 12% for older vintages while younger ones remained almost unchanged. It must be noted that values for younger vintages (up to 2010) displayed in our database are hypothetical as no younger aircraft have been converted yet. This is the first reduction in 737-800SF values since the start of the pandemic and is driven by lower feedstock prices. We still maintain some premium above “feedstock plus conversion cost” for aircraft that are already converted and ready to carry cargo immediately and take advantage of current strong demand, however this premium is not as great as it was earlier in the year when cargo yields were even higher. We believe that as more feedstock becomes available in the coming months and years, values are likely to settle at the level of passenger feedstock plus conversion cost.

Contact your Cirium representative to find out aviation asset values updates for the Boeing 747s, 767s, 777, 737 MAX Airbus A350s, A321, A319, A318, A330 and A340 aircraft types.

Having been nominated for the Aviation 100 Appraiser of The Year Award 2021, we’re excited to share our latest achievements and impressive track record with the 10,000+ industry peers from airline, banking, leasing and engine-brokerage sectors taking part in this year’s vote to name the winner.

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Discover how you can manage your investment decisions with Ascend by Cirium, aircraft appraisers of the year. Connect with our team of experts here.


The latest global international, inter-regional, intra-regional flight and in-storage status figures

Aviation industry weekly update – October 28, 2020

Cross-border intra-regional passenger jet flights have been disproportionately impacted by the collapse in international passenger demand, measured by year-on-year declines in daily available seat kilometers (ASK) flown, tracked aircraft and average flight hours per aircraft.

On Wednesday October 27, global international flight numbers were down nearly 76% compared with the equivalent day a year earlier, while domestic flights were down approximately 36%. However international intra-regional ASKs were well over 80% down, with nearly 80% fewer tracked aircraft registering 30% fewer daily flying hours on average, compared with October 29 2019.

Passenger jet unitization declines October 2020

By comparison, purely domestic ASKs were only a third down compared with last year, while average daily flying hours per aircraft were within 13% of 2019’s figure.

Across all route categories airlines deployed significantly fewer aircraft at sharply lower rates of daily utilization, which coupled with the general trend toward shorter flights and smaller capacity aircraft resulted in proportionally greater declines in ASKs delivered.

There was an overall 2.6% week-on-week decline in the seven-day average for global passenger jet flights on October 27. All regions saw falls – led by Europe at -6% – with the exception of the Middle East which was up by 1%.

At October 27 Cirium classified 31% of the global passenger jet fleet as having in-storage status, equivalent to just over 8,100 aircraft.


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Aviation industry weekly update – October 21, 2020

Europe’s low-cost airlines have further scaled back their flight operations in recent weeks in the face of the continent’s ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 cases and associated travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.

The principal operating divisions of Eurowings, Ryanair, EasyJet, Vueling Airlines and Wizz Air had collectively clawed their way back to fly more than 50% of 2019’s level of scheduled flights on peak days during August, but as of October 20 this figure had sunk back to less than 28%.

Trends in European low-cost airlines daily flights

Total daily flights by all European operators have declined by more 3,000 since the end of August on a seven day average basis, to below 9,500 at October 20. North America has recovered to August’s level of just over 14,000 daily flights following a slight dip in September, although the outlook is challenging with COVID-19 cases on the rise in most US states. Asia Pacific operators registered daily flights exceeding 20,000 for a few days earlier in October but activity has subsequently fallen back slightly.

Worldwide, international flights remain down more than 75% globally versus 2019 while domestic markets have fared significantly better with a 36% decline. However the seven-day average for all flights is currently trending downwards, at -0.8% week-on-week as of October 20.

Cirium classifies 31% of the global passenger jet fleet as having in-storage status, equivalent to more than 8,100 aircraft.


Find out more about Cirium’s data and analytics to stay ahead of the curve, here

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