easyJet and others: what do we do about these vast aircraft orders?

easyJet is under pressure from its founder and largest share holder, Sir Stelios Haj Ioannu over its huge outstanding orders for A320/21’s with Airbus.

He’s basically warning the airline that even with the best will in the world, this airline crisis is so deeply profound it will have to at the very least defer, and probably cancel, many of the hundreds of aircraft it plans to take delivery of over the next ten five to ten years.

He isn’t the only one to see the inevitability of short to medium term problems and obligations for the airlines. Airbus and Boeing are both bracing themselves for the consequences and neither is looking much forward to it, both have in effect borrowed some $15 billion each to get them through, and even then are looking for state aid to add to that.

RyanAir has just grounded its entire fleet until June, and while they claim to be able to sustain a year of groundings, even they have to be rethinking what they need to take delivery of.

For the airlines awaiting the delivery of A350 and even more than that the 777-9, are they really going to want them?

What of the massive A380’s? Their demise in most of Europe seems inevitable now, and airlines will be wondering if they even need to replace them with such huge aircraft as the 777-9.

It’s a double edged sword. For airlines like Emirates the idea of dumping the A380 more quickly seems possibly more attractive – but that costs capital – billions, and there’s much to be said for keeping what you have rather than spend billions on new aircraft. At least put deliveries off.

For airlines like Lufthansa, the prospect of taking on 777-9’s over the next year must be almost frightening. The airline group is in effect on life support, capital expenses of that size – even leased – are just not viable and probably not even necessary. It’s going to take months to restore aviation to its previous levels, if not a year or two.

One way or another orders for aircraft are going to have to be heavily reviewed and there will be delays, cancellations and Airbus and Boeing will just to have deal with it. The consequences of that for the vast interconnected aerospace industry around the world is not good.

Eventually of course, it will all come back, but not as we knew it, we’ve all lost a segment of our lives, our businesses and we’ve had to learn new lessons. Airlines are no different.