The USA has been the largest market for the 757 and 767.  While the past is not necessarily prologue, the US airlines are going to be influential in the NMA definition.  Asia be the biggest aviation market going forward, but we think Boeing will listen very carefully to the requirements from the US network carriers.

What do the 757 and 767 fleets look like among US airlines?

Both aircraft fleets have been run down and are being retired.  Looking at the age profiles, it is clear these airlines are probably under some pressure to replace these models. With fuel prices rising again, the matter becomes more pressing.

The following table demonstrates that the US-based 757 and 767 fleets peaked between 2005 and 2010.  Of the 757 fleet worldwide, the US accounted for about half.

The aging fleet has already led to some decisions.  The next table lists these airlines and the orders they have placed to date.  Note that Hawaiian has placed orders for 757-sized aircraft although they have not operated the 757.  This, in our view, underscores how important this size aircraft is for operators. It is the size that can be deployed into new markets and grow with them.

But as we look at these numbers in the table above, it is clear the decisions are not complete.  In the next able we list he active fleet as of 1Q18 and the orders, by seat capacity.  The NMA is apparently being developed in two sizes, and we are trying to account for this.

American Airlines about three times as many orders in the 757-segment as they operate at present. In 2005, American operated 142 757s.  It would seem the airline believes this segment warrants such volume.  In 2005 American had 74 767s.  Although the airline has started taking 787s, it has more on order to close the fleet gap.

In 2005, Delta operated 85 757s and its merger partner, Northwest had another 59, for a total of 144.  Delta has been acquiring 737-900ERs to replace some of that fleet as the 757s retire. But it is clear with 205 aircraft on order, it concurs with the American view that this segment warrants attention.  In 2005 Delta operated 116 767s.  As part of a replacement effort, Delta ordered 25 A330neos.  Clearly Delta does not see this A330neo as the complete answer to the 767 replacement.  This provides Boeing with an opportunity for its NMA.  But it also means Airbus has an advantage if the A330neo proves to be as good as Airbus says.

In 2005 United Airlines operated 95 757s and its merger partner Continental had another 56 for a total of 151.  It has also been retiring these and has focused on the MAX9 and MAX10 as replacements. We note that United also believes this segment is set for growth as its orders overcompensate for the active fleet.  In 2005 United operated 36 767s and its merger partner Continental has another 26 for a total of 62.  United has been forthright that it is evaluating options for replacement and is looking at the 787 and A330neo.  Given United’s proclivity for Boeing it would seem the 787 is likely to get the nod.

In terms of Hawaiian, although it is a small airline compared to the Big Three, it switched from 767s to A330s and then had plans to update that fleet with A330neos, only to switch again to 787s.

Bottom Line:
It appears that Boeing may have missed the opportunity among the US airlines to replace the 757 with its smaller NMA.  Airlines have placed their bets on the A321neo and larger MAX models.  It will probably be closer to 2030 before these aircraft need replacing.  However, among the US airlines the larger NMA appears to have an opportunity.  The airlines have not committed as heavily to replace their 767s yet.

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Addison Schonland
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Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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