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Airplanes in queue

Air operations, Ascend by Cirium, Expert view, Financial investments

Operating aircraft approach pre-pandemic levels in some markets

April 7, 2022

Ascend by Cirium advisors presented the latest research on aircraft fleets, utilization and values at the 2022 ISTAT Americas conference.

Ascend by Cirium advisors presented the latest research on aircraft fleets, utilization and values at the 2022 ISTAT Americas conference. Below is a summary of tracked aircraft and aircraft utilization as the airline industry comes out of the pandemic. For more details,  request a consultation with an advisor or explore Cirium’s Fleets and Aircraft Values data by completing this form.

ISTAT Americas: commercial aircraft summary

The number of commercial aircraft in operation globally is approaching 90 percent of January 2020 usage, i.e.  90 percent of pre-pandemic numbers. However, the widebody recovery continues to lag more than 20 percentage points behind. At the end of February 2022, the number of widebody aircraft tracked daily was only 65 percent of what it was 26 months ago. And, with recent COVID outbreaks in parts of Southeast Asia and route disruptions from the war in Ukraine, international travel, and therefore widebody recovery, is delayed even further.

Tracked  jet aircraft showing widebody jets recovering more slowly than other types.

Similarly, you can see the number of widebody aircraft in storage following a similar pattern. Widebodies are coming back into service, but not as quickly as other aircraft. Lessors have a relatively large inventory on hand.

Stored passenger widebody aircraft by month

bar chart of Stored passenger widebody aircraft by month

Narrowbody aircraft are returning more strongly. The latest Cirium data shows global average daily utilisation for single tracked daily has recovered to only 13 percentage points below pre-pandemic levels. The US is leading the recovery with utilization falling within one percentage point of 2019 daily utilization levels and four percentage points of hourly utilization.

Chart of narrowbody flight hours showing peak recovery in June, and flat through February.

Source: Cirium utilisation data, commercial passenger jets, utilisation data for aircraft tracked on a daily basis

Despite the drop in utilization over the last two years, very few narrowbody jets — 300 in 2021 — have been retired. Existing stored inventory is primarily made up of older jets.

Corporate jets

We’ve seen a different behavior in corporate jets. In early 2021, corporate jets began taking to the air again. In the last 12 months, departures surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

line graphic of 16 years of corporate jet traffic

Aircraft values and lease rates

thumbnail of jet values and lease rates. Download for fullsize.

The ISTAT market briefings included detailed trend data on aircraft demand, supply dynamics and pricing drivers. To learn more, request a consultation with the Ascend by Cirium team.

You can also download the Ascend by Cirium Aircraft Value Guide to understand current new and used aircraft value ranges.

Airline fleet data

Cirium has the most comprehensive aircraft database, tracking everything from ownership, to configuration to utilization and values. Request a demo to learn more.

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