We took a look at the breakdown of O&D for commercial jet aircraft through the third quarter 2015 and the trends look interesting. We broke the market into seat categories.
Orders are much more volatile than deliveries. The OEMs are able to control the latter while they have clearly been encouraging ever more orders.
After interest through 2001, the market for aircraft with under 75 seats is dwindling. But orders for 75-100 seaters looks like it is growing, while deliveries have not kept pace.
In the 101-130 seat segment, there were good relative order levels early on, but that has declined. Not only in percentage, even in absolute numbers. This is because Airbus and Boeing have successfully moved many customers into the next segment. Orders are thinning and deliveries tailing off. Is the market ex-growth, or might the forthcoming E2 and CS herald a new spring? The investments by Bombardier and Embraer certainly suggest a new spring might be coming.
The 151-200 seat segment is the heart of the market. In orders we have seen the segment move from about a quarter of orders in 2000 to over 70% in 3Q15. In deliveries the respective numbers are ~40% to nearly 70%. During the period we have seen typical annual orders of around 200 (through 2003) frequently exceed 1,000 and twice around 2,000. This market exploded from 2005. Deliveries have gone from typically under 300 (through 2006) to over 500, with last year reaching 925. With Airbus and Boeing ratcheting up production, these two OEMs alone can generate over 1,000 deliveries per year. One can see why this segment squeezed the orders and deliveries charts.
The 200-299 seat segment has seen an absolute decline in orders and since 2008 it has typically been under 100 aircraft per year. The 3Q15 number we have is 90 so we might yet see a breach of 100 this year. Deliveries have been more robust. Airbus has been especially good at moving its A321 in this segment. Boeing’s 737-900 has not managed to keep pace, and as we recently saw with Delta’s decision, the 757 lives on.
The 300-399 seat segment has seen better orders recently. But as aircraft grow larger there are fewer buyers. Of course big orders at the Dubai show in 2013 caused a spike. Deliveries are pretty stable at between 75 and 90 per year. The A330neo and A350 face off against the larger 787s and 777X. This segment is likely to see more action in the years ahead as fleets are renewed.
In the >400 seat segment, what we would call the VLA segment, is comparatively small in volume, but not in money terms. Airbus had a tough time persuading airlines to add A380s (with only one exception, Emirates) while Boeing has had an equally tough time moving its 747-8i. However the forthcoming 777-9 should fall into this segment and is likely to improve the numbers. If, as many expect, Airbus does stretch the A350 then it too will likely fall into this segment, also boosting numbers. With the A380 now moving to over 600 seats, we might need to split this segment into two; 400-499 seats and >500 seats (new VLA).
As a remark on the trend of larger airplanes, IATA’s October 2015 Air Passenger Market Analysis is just out ( http://www.iata.org/publications/economics/Pages/Air-Passenger-Monthly-Analysis.aspx ), and the passenger load factors are higher than ever. In domestic U.S., the year-to-date passenger load factor is 85.5%, and for North America total traffic the passenger load factor is 84.2%. Both numbers are the highest on record. For the global aviation system, the October year-to-date passenger load factor is 80.7%; also the highest on record. In addition, the October 2015 year-to-date global revenue passenger kilometers number is up 6.8% relative to last year, a very high rate of growth.
So it seems airlines, while taking delivery of larger planes, have no difficulties filling their planes. This feeds the positive market dynamic of lower CASM, lower fares, market growth, larger planes, lower CASM, and on and on. The Boeing 737MAX-200 and Airbus A321neo are setting a new standard on CASM with more than 20% lower fuel burn relative to today’s planes, so the feedback-loop continues. A great era for aviation!