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As of the end of 1Q16 there were 1,660 active commercial aircraft in the Middle East.  Of these 270 or 16.3% were based in Iran.  Iran had a total of 324 (active plus inactive) commercial aircraft listed, but many are parked for a lack of spares or being unsafe to fly.

Iran has the second largest commercial aircraft fleet (including parked aircraft) after the UAE.  No wonder the OEMs are so keen to get into that market.  Airbus made a big splash with its $27Bn order.  Everyone has been wondering why Boeing has not also benefited from Iranian interest.  After all, Iran is expected to buy from every OEM in order to minimize its fear of renewed sanctions.  The wider the business interest and fear of economic pain, the higher the hurdle to renew sanctions.

Boeing is as eager as any OEM to… Continue reading

The current backlog for aircraft is well known.  There are some, AirInsight included, who believe that there is an emerging bubble in the single aisle market.  The OEMs argue strongly that this is not the case, and that the large backlog will be delivered.  One of the factors in that equation is what will retirements look like, and when existing aircraft reach the point of economic obsolescence.

There are a number of factors that drive aircraft obsolescence, fuel burn being the most notable.  As engines increased in efficiency, newer aircraft have significantly lower operating costs than predecessors.  However, capital costs and interest rates also play a role in the equation, as does the supply-demand balance and pricing of older aircraft.  Those trade-offs are carefully evaluated by airlines as they project potential revenue and cost differentials and their retirement decisions.

Historic Perspective

What does history tell us about single aisle fleets and retirements?  Aircraft have a limited economic life, but this varies  among the OEMs. This is primarily due to the age of the fleets, with Boeing and Douglas having produced narrow bodies since 1958 while Airbus didn’t enter the market until 1989.  The oldest Airbus narrow-bodies are now turning 28 years old, while the oldest Boeing and Douglas aircraft are senior citizens.

The age at which aircraft retire has been growing over the last few decades, as new models replace old ones and economic conditions for the industry change with recessions, 9-11, SARS and other exogenous factors.

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