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Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Psst ... wanna buy an aircraft?

Airlines around the world are facing up to the reality that air travel is unlikely ever to return to the levels of late 2019, and certainly not within the life of many of their fleet of aircraft. Lufthansa is early off the blocks in announcing that 6 x A380s, 7 x A340-600s and 5 x B747-400s are to go, with another 11 x A320s removed from duty. Subsidiaries Lufthansa Cityline and Eurowings will lose 3 x A340-300s and 10 x A320s, Business Traveller reports.

Emirates are seeking to delay delivery of 8 x A380s, difficult as the aircraft are already in production. And of course Ryan Air have 20 x B737-MAX200s on order - rarely can new additions to a fleet be so unwanted.

It's not just aircraft that are unwanted. Airports face hard times, in some cases after having invested heavily in upgrades. Probably just as well LHR never got its new runway - it will never be needed now. I can see many smaller European airports closing down altogether - too many depend on bribing Easyjet or Ryan Air, and too many just want Summer visitor traffic.

But it's not those holiday-home flights that make money for the airlines but business travel; Politico EU carries a story which I think reflects an unwarranted optimism - "Business travel will come back when HR departments and corporate general counsels decide on a duty-of-care basis that they can relax their prohibition on travel, or actually come out and say, 'It’s time to go travel again'". Of course, with half the world learning to Zoom, manage Whatsapp groups and installing Signal on their phones, those HR departments may just decide that those trips are unnecessary. Of course, folk need to learn how to use those apps. Reader, I have just sent apologies for two Zoom meetings in a row - they are proving an indulgence for those craving attention but who have little of any importance to say. I'm not spending an hour linked to people (who can't pick up boredom signals) to do something that could have been done by email in five minutes.

Even our EU trade talks have resumed, albeit at low speed akin to a crawl, without over the table meetings. Oh, these will be needed at some stage, of course they will; one cannot dispense with all the NVC and interpersonal chemistry, but just maybe we will learn to exhaust the preliminaries by other means before an actual meeting. One can only hope.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am sure they can be used by the 2 billion Africans that want to come here - and that our politicians want to come here.

Certainly better than all those rafts that need 'rescuing'.

Dave_G said...


We used to laugh at the comics that showed Mr Joe Average relaxing in a reclining chair, headset and VR goggles mounted and exclaiming 'what a great holiday experience!' as he swanned around exotic locations from his living room. Total Recall anyone?

Doesn't seem quite so ridiculous any more, does it?

Millions would give a limb for such 'freedoms' right now.

DeeDee99 said...

My younger son is looking forward to being able to resume his "hobby" of jetting round the world on his holidays. 3 trips have been postponed this year, but they're not cancelled. However, I accept that that won't apply to many.

St Greta and the idiots of Extremist Rebellion must be delighted that their dream of eliminating the opportunity to visit other countries has been so swiftly delivered.

Andrew Douglas said...

'those HR departments may just decide that those trips are unnecessary'

Or maybe companies will decide it's the HR departments that are unnecessary.

Poisonedchalice said...

My biggest concern about all this is "what comes after". At the time of 9/11 I was working in the C&W internet business and I thought at the time "here comes video conferencing" but it didn't take off as I thought. So maybe we will just get back to normal? Tell you what though - have you seen the cost of flights to Europe later in the year?? Ouch!!

DiscoveredJoys said...

Before the Coronavirus:

Business travel as the status quo
Face to face meetings as the status quo
Working in an office as the status quo (for those with 'office' jobs)
Politics as an elaborate game of patronage
The economy as a way of spending tomorrow's money today

After the Coronavirus:

The same as before the Coronavirus, but not quite as frenetic.

The adjustments (particularly if the virus returns cyclically) will take years to settle down, and eventually people will forget about the Coronavirus.

DJK said...

It turns out that working from home and holding virtual meetings works relatively painlessly for many people. I don't think the pre-Covid19 world of communing to the office to log on to your computer, or travelling many miles to meet people face-to-face is coming back. As we're told that a vaccine is about two years away, then even when the lockdown ends, natural prudence will keep many people away from public transport. It's rather a shock for airlines, airports and Boeing/Airbus, but there we go, the future can't always be extrapolated from the present.

Thud said...

I have no intention of flying less and I'm already looking at future travel plans and I doubt I'm alone in this. I just can not see people not resuming their addiction to cheap flights on sleazy jet etc.

DJK said...

Thud: You may think differently if each foreign trip also involves a two week stay in a quarantine hotel.

Thud said...

But it will not after a pretty short time so not much of a concern.

Span Ows said...

Me too Thud, will be away as soon as I can.

Microsoft teams is another excellent conference tool. BUT heed Raedwald' comment, had a 3 hour 'chat' with more than one who likes to ramble. Could ahve ben done with 15 minutes time and a couple of emails...beware! Already after only two weeks I am constantly "away".

It is a "shock to airlines, airports and Boeing/Airbus"...and tens of thousands of parts/service comapanies, tens of thousands of hotels and their service comapnies...and so the ripples spread. Millions of jobs.

DJK said...

Many countries have used travel bans or quarantine restrictions as part of their C19 supression strategy. Unless the disease is completely supressed in the UK (which seems unlikely) then those restrictions are not going to be lifted anytime soon. Still, you might be able to travel to the USA, and perhaps to parts of the EU.

Thud said...

I'm a happy chap and of the firm belief that human ingenuity and some corner cutting will bring about a vaccine in perhaps 9 or so months as many labs etc hit the ground running given their previous work on sars and mers hence my travel plans.

Smoking Scot said...

At the moment flights into China are limited to 75% of seating capacity. I don't think we can realistically expect anything better than each middle seat being left empty (so 4 passengers over a row of 6), meaning about 66% of capacity, at least until a health card or vaccine comes.

Depending on how many airlines actually survive, fares could become prohibitive, meaning package holidays and general tourism will be beyond the means of many.

I doubt any business of consequence will return to executive or business travel - again until the card or jab thing. Too great a liability for employees who may feel they're being put at risk, or for PR purposes. I used to have to do that stuff and absolutely despised it, partly because it was a 12 hour flight, partly because my hotel bill was subject to intense scrutiny. So don't think this in person, flesh on flesh is popular.

They'll soon have the Iran model about gradually trying to revive the economy and Nicaragua about herd immunity. Unfortunately it's very unlikely we'll ever learn how the N Korea version pans out.

Whatever happens, it's very likely most governments will take the walking on eggshells route of a very gradual easing of restrictions. And if Boris doesn't pull through, or is severely lung compromised, that alone could add another month.

Anonymous said...

Radders, Thank you for running an informative blog

Lockdown started on 24th March 2020. Its now 8th April 2020. A full two weeks. Yet there is no flattening out of the Infection rate. The rate is still positive. This does indicate that the method of infection is not just by touch(wash hands).

As most of the population is incarcerated, with contact very limited, then the only way that infection is spreading to the mass population, is not via emergency workers, who are limited in contacts, but via supermarkets. Even if one person per family goes to the supermarket, he going to a centre of infection, where a persons from the rest isolated population visits on a regular basis. The infection now spreads to the entire population via supermarkets, who act like hubs.

As the modes of infection are not wholly known, viz by air, then access to the supermarkets must be limited to electronic means, and goods delivered by special teams. Or remove the lockdown, as we are now very much in the region where prevention is worse then the cure.

Another week or so should tell us if the lockdown is working. If its not, then the virus has found a way to the population, via supermarkets or some other way.

DP111

JPM said...

DJK absolutely right, and with its disastrous herd immunity policy that is perhaps what awaits UK and US people if the rest of the world do as China, Taiwan, S. Korea, Germany, Norway etc. are doing and eradicate this scourge in their nations.

Trump might threaten WHO for not joining him in his lies about China, but many other countries will expose those too.

Doonhamer said...

WTF is CVD? MLA GUMN.
How do you get it?
Do we self isolate?

Dave_G said...


For the sake of over stressing our NHS the Government has seen fit to destroy the countries TOTAL economy. They used to achieve this by means of war - now they do it using propaganda and making people feel guilty for even walking in a park.

As a reminder, on AVERAGE, there are 1,600 deaths from all sorts of causes DAILY in the UK. Over the winter months these figures could easily be DOUBLE that or more. Where was the lockdown then?

Other than 'won't someone think of the children (sorry, NHS)' can anyone else tell me how this economic catastrophe can be justified? There is and never will be a cure. Same as influenza - you'll either get it or not, suffer or not, die or not.

We have just STARTED this process of collapse too. Never mind the airlines, what about the high street businesses and suppliers that will never re-open? We have all been beggared by a mixture of propaganda and (some would say) deliberate contamination and most certainly by deceitful leadership that refuses to reveal the REAL reason behind their actions.

Michael said...

"St Greta and the idiots of Extremist Rebellion must be delighted that their dream of eliminating the opportunity to visit other countries has been so swiftly delivered."

Thanks DeeDee, let's hope that the sorry little lot of ragged-trousered twonks will now stay at home and do what we do, just chat online and save the feds the effort of stopping us wandering around like her other thick children/mates.

Anonymous said...

There'll always be 35,000 people flying to interminable COPXX conferences (and pre-conferences) in the future I suppose.

Span Ows said...

DP111, 12:30"Another week or so should tell us if the lockdown is working. If its not, then the virus has found a way to the population, via supermarkets or some other way."

Or, most of us had it before anyway.


JPM, 13:25

"DJK absolutely right, and with its disastrous herd immunity policy that is perhaps what awaits UK and US people if the rest of the world do as China, Taiwan, S. Korea, Germany, Norway etc. are doing and eradicate this scourge in their nations.

US has done 1.7 million tests JPM, more than any other nation; what is it you are suggesting the US and UK should do? Specifics please, as your list of countries above have almost nothing in common in their approach.

Raedwald said...

DP111 - you're right. For most people under lockdown, the greatest risk of infection comes with the weekly trip to the supermarket. That's why the supermarkers here hand out masks to customers and all staff wear them - not the FFP3 masks that keep breath-vapour containing the virus OUT but the surgical things that keep the virus IN.