LONDON – There are a few hours left in 2022. In aviation terms, let’s bring a close to a year full of highs and lows.
Different areas of the industry have been affected either positively or negatively, especially as the post-COVID woes continue to bite.
There is so much to talk about within the aviation industry, but let’s take a look at some of these highs and lows in the sector.
Boeing Has Had Good Successes, But More Improvement on the Way…
Boeing has taken significant flak over the last few years, and rightly so with the 737 MAX crisis, the ongoing delays to 787 deliveries, and the entry-into-service of the 777X.
787 deliveries have restarted in the last couple of months, with the 777X suffering issues with the GE9X as of late.
However, Boeing’s PR strategy over the course of this year has taken the industry and its customers by storm.
Boeing took the Farnborough Air Show by storm back in July by announcing a grand total of 245 orders, compared to Airbus’ 29.
Orders across the board for all its family aircraft had further cemented a view that Boeing was on the rise once again, especially after some rehashed orders from Airbus at the show.
The PR-based show continues earlier this month when the American planemaker announced a historical order for over 200 787 Dreamliner aircraft, with some more MAXs added onto that too.
Many media outlets criticized the order over the potential steep discount within that order. Still, it would probably be a price worth paying in order to get positive press for the aircraft type.
Even so, Boeing does appear to have come back to life somewhat, with there being improvements still needed to restore their position in terms of market share.
Rumours Are Distorting Aircraft Sales…
It can’t be helped that rumors have been somewhat distorting the actuality of aircraft sales over the course of this year.
A major case study within this has been with Air India. Even since the Farnborough Air Show back in July, there have been significant rumors about a major order to be made.
No official confirmations have been made by TATA Sons, the owners of Air India, but sources have said that the airline is close to making an order for Boeing’s 737 MAX.
What hasn’t helped things either in terms of this speculation was when Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury visited the Indian Prime Minister Modi.
Could orders for the A320 Family or A350s be on the cards?
It is clear that from behind the scenes, Boeing and Airbus are fighting tooth and nail to secure as many units sold from the Indian flag carrier, especially with that area of the world growing year-on-year in market value.
With such an order rumored originally to be announced at Farnborough back in July, will we see this drag on until the Paris Air Show, or will something be announced before the activities begin in Le Bourget?
Airbus Has Kept Its Head Down: Focusing on Further Success
Airbus has most definitely kept its head down over the course of this year, focusing on its current initiatives and thinking toward the future.
The manufacturer advised earlier this month that it will be unable to meet its delivery target for commercial aircraft this year.
Based on its November deliveries of 68 commercial aircraft and the complex operating environment, Airbus SE considers its target to achieve “around 700” commercial aircraft deliveries in 2022 to now be out of reach.
The final figure is not expected to fall materially short of the “around 700” delivery target.
That being said, whatever their delivery number ends up being by the close of play tonight, it hasn’t been a bad year for Airbus in terms of deliveries.
Orders could have been better at Farnborough, but with a backlog of over 6,000 aircraft, does this necessarily matter right now?
Airbus has been focusing on its production rates, with the ramp-up rate on the A320 Familly expected to increase to 65 between 2023 and 2024.
Airbus maintains the objective of reaching a rate of 75 by the middle of the decade.
So whatever happens, the European planemaker is in a good position at the moment and will be placing focus on the certification of the A321XLR moving forward.
The aircraft type recently completed a 13-hour test flight, asserting and demonstrating that the aircraft is capable of the range Airbus is advertising.
Airbus has plenty to do and achieve, so all eyes will be on them to see how their 2023 will go.
A Chaotic Summer 2022…
Whenever an industry comes out of hibernation, as we saw during COVID-19, there are bound to be things that go wrong.
However, not so much as we have seen during the Summer 2022 season in UK and Europe.
As mentioned in The Editor’s Corner #1, I made it quite clear that the industry isn’t ready for the demand that the Summer season was due to give.
And boy, was I right! From the lack of staff in the airports to handling agents struggling to board and deboard passengers, Summer 2022 will be a period that the airline industry will want to forget.
Such issues are also seen within the Winter 2022/23 period as well, with intense weather disrupting operations in the U.S. to Border Force strikes going on in the U.K.
Summer 2022 Woes an Opportunity: Return of The “Big Boys”…
On the other hand, Summer 2022 has demonstrated the frustration of the consumer in wanting to get back into the skies and abroad again. And that is somewhat of a good thing.
For example, Lufthansa announced earlier this month that there would be 5,200 weekly flights to 205 destinations in Summer 2023.
That in itself is the reflection of the travel demand that we are seeing within Europe and the rest of the world.
SAS announced the same thing as Lufthansa, with the carrier expected to operate over 5,000 flights per week despite its current financial turmoil.
It is clear that demand is that strong, that there is a need to bring back the “big boys” in terms of aircraft equipment.
Earlier this month, Etihad Airways announced the return of its Airbus A380 aircraft in time for the Summer 2023 season.
Lufthansa announced this even earlier back in June, when they announced plans to reactivate the aircraft type in time for the busy period.
Their first A380 came out of storage at the start of this month.
So, hopefully, the Summer 2022 season was the wake-up call that the industry needed to get the necessary aircraft ready, complete recruitment early, and move forward into a successful period. That is not being shown currently, however.
This Year Has Been A Mixed Bag…
It remains clear that this year has been a mixed bag, but you must ask yourself the following question: Was this expected?
The answer: Yes. This is because things still need to recover within the industry, and this is why we can see the vast majority of that process taking place in the Summer 2023 season.
But for now, the industry can hold its head high, look back at its mistakes, and move forward, which will definitely be a resolution on everyone’s lists as we say goodbye to 2022.
On behalf of the AviationSource News team, we wish you a Happy New Year for 2023!