The crisis hitting airlines right now and for the next few months is unprecedented. The one thing they all know is it will at best take them two to three years to get back from. Many will struggle to survive.
With demand collapsing airlines will do what they always do, look for the quick way to extract themselves from financial obligations. That means postponing new deliveries and eradicating older aircraft.
Already rumours are flying that KLM is looking to dispose of its 744 fleet as soon as possible, rather than in 2021 as planned.
Lufthansa is facing its worst financial crisis ever and will likely take out its own fleet of 744’s, the A380’s were already on the endangered list and the 748i’s were planned to exit at ten years of age anyway. A346, A343’s will be on the endangered list.
Swiss May just have refurbished it’s last five A343’s but if push comes to shove, they’ll drop them like a hot brick.
Small airlines like Virgin Atlantic are in serious danger if this drives down demand so far they have to shutter US routes – already their China routes and India are out, Tel Aviv they only just started has been cut. Demand was 50% down and falling. They just aren’t big enough to sustain these losses long term. Their remaining A346’s have already gone, the 744’s at Gatwick will be next.
Older aircraft from the 757 to the 744, older A330 and A340’s, even older 737 and A320 will suddenly find themselves on the chopping block.
And the 777-9? That’s in serious danger of nobody wanting it as soon as they expected. Airlines aren’t going to have the money to pay, and will be nervous about taking on something so big so soon. Deferments on that, the 787 and A350/A330neo are inevitable.
American have already announced the end of their 767 and 757 fleets, United and Delta will almost certainly follow suit.
The demand for aircraft is going to flatline for both Airbus and Boeing. There’s even the likelihood that this crisis is taking the pressure of the MAX recertification because nobody really needs them – or wants to pay for them – right now.
It’s nothing but bad news right now and I wished it wasn’t – but we are witnessing a fundamental and utterly transformative moment in aviation history. It’s been unfolding in front of us every day. When it finally stops, and it will, the wreckage behind this aviation tsunami is going to be like little else we’ve ever seen.
This is a time when 2020 will be seen as a landmark in the way aviation brands and aircraft vanished, and the mega carriers some already here, others that will form, will dominate the future.