Over 800 aircraft to exit airline fleets says IBA

Over 800 aircraft have been identified as subject to exit from their current airline fleets, according to the leading aviation data and advisory company IBA in its recent Mid-Year Market Update.

Covid-19 has driven a mix of airline failures and administrations, early lease returns and accelerated retirements, all of which feed into IBA’s analysis, which draws on data from IBA.iQ, the leading platform for aviation intelligence.

Over two thirds of the aircraft identified will be retired or placed in long term storage, and are unlikely to fly again. This includes almost all fleets of older aircraft such as the MD-88 and MD-90, but also significant proportions of younger aircraft including almost 30% of the A380 and almost 50% of the A340-600 fleets.

British Airways has since announced the retirement of its Boeing 747-400 fleet in response to the global pandemic afflicting our industry. These aircraft would have otherwise been operated until 2024.

Phil Seymour, Company President of IBA, says: “A mix of airline failures, the grounding of the 737 MAX and radical changes in fleet strategy are changing the dynamics of the commercial aircraft marketplace like never before.

“By the start of 2021, airline fleets across the world will look very different following reductions in size and variety as airlines focus on operating fewer numbers of smaller, younger, proven and more efficient aircraft.”

Although older widebody aircraft feature heavily in airlines’ retirement strategies, the number of widebody order cancellations has actually fallen from 237 in 2019 to just 32 thus far in 2020, highlighting that new widebody aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 continue to play a part in airline’s future plans.

By comparison, 452 cancellations of the 737 MAX, combined with smaller numbers of the A320neo family and A220, have driven the total number of narrowbody cancellations from 421 in 2019 to 497 so far in 2020.

While airlines remain responsible for the majority of cancellations, lessor cancellations have increased, largely as a result of the grounding of the MAX. The number of new leases has also fallen sharply between Q1 and Q2 of 2020, and IBA predicts that lease ends will exceed lease starts for the first time ever this year.

The total number of new aircraft deliveries has also fallen significantly. Thus far in 2020, 28 regional jet, 88 widebody and 185 narrowbody aircraft have been delivered. IBA estimates that the total figure may reach 600 by the end of the year, compared to 1,400 deliveries in 2019. The number of new deliveries has not previously fallen below 950 in the last 20 years.

The number of aircraft returning to the air, having been parked or in storage, varies considerably by type according to data from IBA.iQ.

Over 60% of regional jet aircraft are now back in operation whilst almost 50% of widebodies remain parked. Additionally, while two thirds of all narrowbodies were parked in April, almost 60% are now in service.

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