The RAA provided its RAA Annual Report 2017 today. Here a few highlights from their statistics.
Looking at these charts, how strong an argument can you make for a new generation regional jet in the US market? We don’t think the market looks especially attractive for an OEM to offer something new and more expensive. The growth is in mainline, not regionals.
The RAA Chair put is this way: “RPMs and ASMs reached an all-time high in 2016 for all U.S. airlines, but the regional sector did not produce record-breaking figures. ”
The next chart shows that regional jets are flying fuller than before. But so are mainline jets. The light blue columns show that in 2016 the seat capacity was around 60. The mainline jets averaged closer to three times that and are also fuller.
The RAA Chair summarized: “Ultimately, our industry operated fewer flights but on larger aircraft traveling longer distances last year. We carried fewer passengers, with enplanements dropping again in 2016.”
Here we can see how the mainline airlines are taking back traffic from regionals. The US fleet is working harder with fewer planes are doing the work.
The RAA Chair said: “This marks a new reality for small and medium-sized communities, and the primary driver for this industry contraction is a growing pilot shortage. Without immediate intervention, this crisis will worsen as major airlines prepare to hire the equivalent of the entire regional airline pilot workforce within the next three years alone, in order to keep pace with retirements and growing air service demand. ”
In summary, it appears the OEMs (Embraer and Bombardier) should continue to focus on optimizing the aircraft they have. Newcomers like Mitsubishi might want to look outside the US regional airline industry. There might be opportunities among some mainline carriers in the US, but they are up against the CS100 and E-190-E2 if they decide to try that. The case for expanding scope clause does not look compelling. Mainline pilots are winning the battle for securing their jobs. The US regional airline industry is being squeezed. When is the pilot shortage situation going to get the attention it needs?