April 2020 marked the low point in air transport fleet utilization. Since then, aircraft flying hours have been steadily increasing. However, the speed of the recovery has varied by size of aircraft (e.g., narrowbody, widebody, regional jet, and turboprop), the region where the airline is based and the maturity of the aircraft (e.g., new/mature/sunset), and, whether the aircraft is flying cargo.
Global aircraft utilization in 2020 was just 53% of levels seen in 2019. However, October 2021 flying hours were ~73% of October 2019.
Comparing October 2021 with October 2020, the situation has clearly improved. Narrowbody utilization is up 46%, widebody up 34%, 70+ seat regional jets up 38%, small regional jets up 56% and turboprops also up 38%.
Narrowbody and 70+ seat Regional Jets have led the recovery due to them typically flying short-haul and domestic routes less impacted by restrictions.
The 737NG and A320ceo family are the key narrowbody aircraft in-service and the aircraft driving recovery. Since the seasonal low point of February 2021, the 737NG and A320ceo flying hours peaked in July (the typical high-point in the year).
However, comparing pre-COVID with 2021 YTD, it can be seen that utilization is still lower, with 737NG hours in October 2021 ~69% of October 2019 and, A320ceo family ~61%.
The A320ceo family has seen increased retirements versus 737NG due to the A320ceo family entering service before the 737NG. For instance, since 2019, 160 737NGs have retired compared to 379 A320ceo family aircraft.
Deliveries of new A320neo family and 737 MAX have continued along with return-to-service of more parked 737 MAX aircraft. Hence fleet utilization is increasing. It is hoped that China will give the MAX regulatory approval in the 1st Qtr. of 2022
Narrowbody & Widebody Utilization
Regional Jet & Turboprop Utilization
737NG, A320ceo, 737MAX and A320neo Utilization
Date: November 23 , 2021
Tracking the Air Transport Utilization Recovery
April 2020 marked the low point in air transport fleet utilization. Since then, aircraft flying hours have been steadily increasing. However, the speed of the recovery has varied by size of aircraft (e.g., narrowbod...
Date: March 12 , 2021
Reviewing 2020 Aircraft Retirements
So, how many air transport aircraft retired in 2020? Thousands? Nope. 2020 did not yield the thousands of retirements that had been feared. Though the final tally will be subject to revision in the coming months, so f...
Date: January 18 , 2021
Norwegian Air Shuttle Fights for Survival
On the 14th of January, Norwegian Air Shuttle announced plans to focus on short-haul flying and abandon long-haul. Norwegian’s quest for profitability long preceded COVID-19. The restructuring plan calls for 50 nar...