Boeing: Versatility Will Be A Key Consideration For Airline Fleets

The last year has been a reset year for global airline fleets. However, some key trends have been…

Boeing: Versatility Will Be A Key Consideration For Airline Fleets

The last year has been a reset year for global airline fleets. However, some key trends have been accelerated, especially regarding fleets. Taking the opportunity to retire older aircraft, carriers are being deliberate with their fleet strategy and prioritizing running more efficient and lower-cost operations. A key tenet of this strategy has been versatility, and Boeing is onboard and is confident that a strategy of pursuing a versatile aircraft portfolio will be a necessity in a post-crisis world.

Boeing has shown it understands the need for versatile aircraft products, including the MAX family, but it is planning to put a renewed emphasis on versatility in the future. Photo: Boeing

What versatility means

Before diving into the need for versatility, it is important to discuss what it means in this context. Boeing has broken down versatility into three components: capability, network flexibility, and fleet commonality. All three are top considerations when airlines are making their fleet decisions.

Capability comes down to what the aircraft can actually do. In the commercial space, this mostly refers to passenger airlines. This includes factors like seating capacity, cargo capacity, range, fuel efficiency, infrastructure demands, and much more. Airlines want to know exactly what they can do with a plane.

The next component is network flexibility. Once an airline gets to know exactly what the aircraft can do, it looks at where the plane can be deployed across its network. In the current world, the more opportunities available, the better. Considering a plane like a single-aisle narrowbody, airlines want to be able to deploy that aircraft on a short hop between major markets a couple of times a day and then want the flexibility to fly the plane on a longer route taking several hours.

Finally, commonality is a huge part of versatility. Airlines want to minimize introduction costs for a given aircraft and like to operate planes they know at least something about. This is why some large Boeing 737 Next Generation operators selected the 737 MAX as part of their fleet renewal plans. Commonality also extends to fleet families. Airlines want to be able to choose from a variety of aircraft within a given family to fulfill different missions.

Ryanair, Boeing 737 MAX, Summer 2021
Every subsequent generation of aircraft helps advance new technologies and opens new opportunities for airlines, which is a big focus at Boeing. Photo: Getty Images

Widebody versatility is key for airlines

Narrowbody aircraft have been leading the recovery because short-haul and medium-haul markets have recovered far faster than long-haul markets. This includes large domestic markets like the United States. Long-haul routes are coming back slowly, but versatility is key here as well.

Looking closer at the fleet changes airlines made, this included the withdrawal of plenty of four-engine aircraft in favor of modern, efficient twinjets. Planes like the Boeing 777 and 787, and Airbus A330 and A350 have been taking over routes formerly flown by Boeing 747s, Airbus A340s, and A380s.

Considering all three aspects of versatility in the widebody space is key. From a capability standpoint, there is little the Boeing 787 cannot do. An example can be found from Qantas, which historically used the type to run the first commercial nonstop regularly scheduled flights between Australia and London. Those flights are expected to come back.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Takes First Test Flight
The Boeing 787 has enabled the launch of more long-haul routes thanks to its superb operating economics. Photo: Getty Images

Moreover, other airlines around the world have used that same 787 for more standard long-haul routes. Think American and United, and British Airways using the plane on long-haul routes connecting cities like New York, Washington D.C., and Chicago with London, Athens, and more.

However, United also has some major plans for the Dreamliner. Not only has it used the aircraft on these routes, but it has also added two new long-haul routes to its schedules: Newark to Johannesburg and San Francisco to Bangalore. The Boeing 787 is the only aircraft United has in its long-haul fleet that can serve both routes reliably without taking a massive payload hit.

Not only can the 787 accomplish both routes – previous generation aircraft like the Airbus A340 could do it too – but the Dreamliner does it at a lower cost, with better efficiency, and with upgraded passenger comfort.

Boeing: Versatility Will Be A Key Consideration For Airline Fleets
The Boeing 777X is expected to continue advancements in versatility. Photo: Jay Singh | Simple Flying

Narrowbodies are still important

According to Boeing, the single-aisle market has remained “resilient.” Mid-size aircraft like the Airbus A320ceo and A320neo and Boeing 737-800 and 737 MAX 8 aircraft have been key aircraft returning to service. Even in this space, versatility has been paramount.

Of the 43,610 aircraft Boeing believes the industry will need through 2040, 32,660 of those are expected to be narrowbody aircraft. This is where aircraft like the Boeing 737 MAX 10 will be key.

Airlines are going to need more higher-gauge aircraft. Boeing is forecasting a 4.0% growth in annual passenger traffic (measured in revenue passenger kilometers) per year from a 2019 base. While many airports are undergoing modernization and expansions, there comes the point when airlines will be physically constrained from adding more flights at some airports. In these situations, higher-gauge is important.

Delta B737-900
Larger narrowbody aircraft are growing in importance. Photo: Getty Images.

Plus, hubs are not going anywhere. While point-to-point demand and traffic have steadily grown, the efficiency of operating hub-and-spoke networks remains unrivaled, and the security hubs provide have been essential in the rebound of air travel. To keep growing connecting hubs, larger-gauge aircraft are going to be key.

This is where narrowbodies come into play. Take United Airlines, which is looking to correct its gauge issues with a major order for both large Boeing narrowbody jets and Airbus narrowbody aircraft. The key aspect for United there was gauge.

Boeing: Versatility Will Be A Key Consideration For Airline Fleets
United’s massive order in June is a testament to the importance of having a versatile product portfolio for airlines. Photo: Boeing

The Boeing 737 MAX 10 is an example of Boeing offering a product that fits many of those needs. It is a higher-gauge aircraft that can run short-haul routes but can also fly longer routes within the United States. It also fits a commonality perspective, given that airlines can choose from a MAX 7, MAX 8, MAX 9, and MAX 10 or a combination of these to get a narrowbody fleet that fits their needs without sacrificing commonality and increasing costs.

Over the next 20 years, Boeing will definitely release some new aircraft models. Expect the manufacturer to continue to offer a versatile portfolio of aircraft that fits what its customers need, all while continuing to focus on efficiency.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Singapore Airlines Cuts Australia Flights Amid Border Confusion

Singapore Airlines is canceling dozens of flights into Australia over the next few months. The airline attributes the…

Singapore Airlines Cuts Australia Flights Amid Border Confusion

Singapore Airlines is canceling dozens of flights into Australia over the next few months. The airline attributes the decision to strict limits on how many passengers they can fly in and uncertainty over border re-openings. It adds to the backlog of people trying to get a flight to Australia.

Singapore Airlines is cutting at least one flight a day into Australia over the next few months. Photo: Singapore Airlines

“We don’t have the clarity we need to have, the confidence to operate,” Karl Schubert, Singapore Airlines Head of Corporate Affairs for the Southwest Pacific told ABC Radio on Wednesday morning.

Singapore Airlines has continued to fly to various Australian ports since the travel downturn began. Mr Schubert says the airline has operated 3,600 flights since April 2020, carrying some 270,000 passengers.

Mid-year, Australian politicians, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, talked up the prospects of a quarantine-free travel corridor between Singapore and Australia. That followed a face-to-face meeting between Morrison and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Based on this, Singapore Airlines added dozens of additional flights to Australia. Tens of thousands of Australian’s remain stranded overseas, including many in Singapore. But because no travel corridor ever eventuated, Singapore Airlines is canceling those flights. Over the next few months, at least one Singapore Airlines flight a day to Australia is being canceled. In the process, thousands of passengers are once again bumped off flights.

Scott Morrison (left) meeting Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong (right) in June. Photo: Singapore Government

Tight passenger limits put pressure on Singapore Airlines

There are hopes of quarantine-free travel between the two countries resuming later this year for vaccinated travelers. But Australia is yet to give the plan the official go-ahead. Singapore Airlines needs more than vague plans and aspirations about border re-openings.

Adding to the problems are strict caps on the number of passengers Singapore Airlines can fly into Australia. A mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine awaiting all inbound passengers in Australia. Quarantine bed availability and local health resources limit the number of international passengers allowed into the country.

Sydney, Australia’s biggest airport and city, was accepting around 3,000 inbound passengers a week. In July, that was halved to around 1,500. It has since been cut to 750 passengers a week.  Other cities take even fewer inbound passengers.

That’s caused Singapore Airlines to convert one of their two daily passenger services into Sydney to cargo only.

That is due to the fact that we are not allocated the number of passengers to make it viable to operate these flights,” says Mr Schubert. Saying the number of passengers Singapore Airlines is allowed to fly into Australia on each flight varies between destination ports and days, the airline executive added;

“I think if you were to take the number of 12 up to 25 (passengers), that is the variance we have. Particular flights vary per day. The (Australian) Government has zeroed out some flights. Some days we’ve been told we just don’t have a passenger allocation, ‘you can’t carry passengers in.’ On those days, unfortunately, we do have to cancel our flights.”

It isn’t a problem unique to Singapore Airlines. American Airlines was regularly flying into Sydney from Los Angeles. But after zero passengers were allowed on 20 flights over July and August, the airline decided to pause their flights to Sydney. Simple Flying is aware United’s daily flight to Sydney is allowed an average of eight passengers per day. Qatar Airways fares slightly better, being allowed an average of 15 passengers per day.

Big Singapore Airlines jets are flying very few passengers into Australia. Photo: Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines wants clarity on Australian border re-opening

It’s not just passenger limits putting pressure on Singapore’s Australian operations. The airline wants some certainty over border re-openings. Calling for clear direction, guidelines, and working parameters from the Australian Government, Karl Schubert says Singapore Airlines has the capacity to reinstate flights quickly if demand warrants.

Saying rising vaccination rates and expectations of that travel corridor saw Singapore Airlines (and other airlines) add capacity to Australia at the end of 2021, Mr Schubert said there had been a lack of engagement from the Australian Government about border re-openings.

“That has been frustrating at times,” Mr Schubert said. “We certainly welcome the commentary that coming from the Government. We need to get the airlines, airports, governments at state and federal levels around the table to talk about how Australia is going to re-open. What are the parameters are going to be to operate flights viably, but also in a manner that meets the Government’s expectations of health and safety requirements?”

Singapore Airlines is keen to see “absolute clarity” about the rules surrounding Australia’s border re-opening.

“The clarity we need we don’t have at the moment. Like how they are going to treat people who have been vaccinated overseas as opposed to Australia? What vaccines is Australia going to accept, and how are they going to verify? What’s the responsibility or expectations of airlines?”

Singapore Airlines wants Australia to clarify its protocols for resuming international travel. Photo: IATA

Lack of clarity is a recurring problem

With flights already operating into Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide, Karl Schubert says the airline is well-positioned to capitalize on passenger limits lifting and borders re-opening. Even without extra flights, hundreds of empty seats on these existing flights can easily be added to inventory and sold.

However, frustrations at Singapore Airlines with the Australian Government’s lack of engagement is mirrored at other airlines. Barry Abrams, head of local airline group, the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA), told The Sydney Morning Herald that other airlines faced the same problem.

“The frustration is there is now talk from governments about effectively starting to reopen in three months from now, and airlines really have no idea what that could mean in practice,” he said.

A recurring theme from Karl Schubert on Wednesday morning was the lack of clarity from the Australian Government. It’s not restricted to the airline industry. There seems to be an expectation from state and federal level Governments in Australia that businesses and industries can resume normal trading tomorrow if needed be, with a moment’s notice. But as cosseted politicians often fail to realize, the real world isn’t like that.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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