A comparison of Airbus A320 fleet activity between low cost carriers AirAsia and Spirit Airlines brings into sharp relief the challenges faced by operators that rely on international flights to generate the bulk of their passenger traffic.
As a predominantly US domestic airline, Spirit flew almost all of its 94 A320s daily throughout July before reducing utilization rates slightly in August in the face of softening demand.
Malaysia-based AirAsia meanwhile managed to fly only a minority of its 94 A320s each day during the past three months in the face of extensive cross-border travel restrictions imposed by governments in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Tracking data also shows the extent to which AirAsia’s more fuel-efficient CFM International Leap-powered A320neos were preferred, with a significantly greater proportion of its older-generation CFM56-equipped A320ceos having remained in storage.
While AirAsia operates an all A320 fleet with the exception of a couple of larger A321neos, Spirit also has 31 smaller A319s (of which 10 are classified as in-storage by Cirium) and 30 A321ceos, which together with its 64 A320ceos are fitted with International Aero Engines V2500 turbofans. The US carrier opted for Pratt & Whitney’s PW1000G to power its A320neos.
Cirium tracking data shows that as of 1st September, approximately 50% of the global A320ceo fleet was typically active in commercial service daily, compared with around 70% of the A320neo fleet.
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