ANALYSIS: Brakes applied after commercial orders glut

Aviation

January is traditionally a quiet month for commercial aircraft sales, and 2019 did not break from this trend. Information from Cirium’s Fleets Analyzer shows there were 27 new orders recorded during the month, along with 11 cancellations, leaving a net total of 16.

This followed a glut of deals closed last December for a combined 783 aircraft, and was also down from the 37 ordered in January 2018.

Unusually for our Data View summary, the new aircraft orders made during January were all for as-yet undisclosed customers. Boeing secured all of this business, which spans 18 787s – 14 -9s and four -10s – plus nine 737 Max-family aircraft.

Business was less promising at Airbus, which secured no new orders, and also saw Qantas formally cancel its long-dormant commitment for another eight A380s. The Australian carrier, which Cirium schedules data shows employs its current 12 superjumbos on services to Dallas/Fort Worth, Hong Kong, London Heathrow, Los Angeles and Singapore, stressed that it remains committed to the examples already in its fleet.

Qantas’s confirmation of its axed order came prior to Airbus’s 14 February decision to end production of the A380, with final deliveries to occur during 2021.

Rather than take its previously planned additional A380s, Oneworld carrier Qantas intends to order new ultra-long-haul aircraft by the end of the year to meet its “Project Sunrise” requirement, through which it will launch nonstop services from Australia’s east coast to London and New York around 2022-2023. Airbus and Boeing have provided data showing that they have aircraft capable of meeting the carrier’s needs, with adaptations to their A350-1000 and 777-8 products seen as the most likely candidates.

Meanwhile, the delivery total in the year’s opening month comprised 89 commercial aircraft for 58 customers. While this was only just over one-third of the bumper 255 units shipped in December, it represented a 16% increase on the 77 transferred in January 2018.

Carriers in both the Asia-Pacific and North America regions took delivery of 29 aircraft, while those in Europe received 19. More than 55% of deliveries were made to mainline carriers. A total of 65 narrowbodies were handed over, along with 17 widebodies, five regional jets and two turboprops.

In the narrowbody sector, Boeing delivered 33 737-family aircraft to commercial operators, while Airbus shipped an identical number of A320-family jets, including 28 re-engined Neos. Leading recipients included Delta Air Lines, which took six 737-900s and three A321s, American Airlines, with a pair of 737 Max 8s and a single A321neo, and China Southern Airlines, which took three A320neo-series aircraft.

Widebody shipments comprised five A350-900s and an A330-300 from Airbus, while Boeing transferred eight 787s, two 777Fs and a lone 767 Freighter.

In the regional sector, Russia’s Severstal Aircompany took two Sukhoi Superjet 100s. Turboprop deliveries included a single ATR 42 shipped to Japan Air Commuter, and one Bombardier Q400, handed over to Indian carrier SpiceJet.

Meanwhile, Fleets Analyzer shows that the global in-service commercial fleet stood at 29,809 units at the end of January: an increase of 1,201 from the same month a year earlier. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for the largest share of this total, with its 9,163 aircraft representing a 31% stake, versus North America’s 8,685 (29%).

In backlog terms, a total of 15,132 aircraft were on order at the end of January. This marked a year-on-year decline of 68 units, with Airbus and Boeing combined accounting for 88% of the total business.