'Percentage of Global Fleet in Storage Close to 9/11 Peak'
With nearly 1200 aircraft taken out
of service in 2008 alone, only the aircraft boneyards will
benefit... so says a study released by an aviation info-broker.
The impact of the global economic downturn continues to be felt
by the aviation industry, as new figures reveal that a record total
of almost 2,300 jet airliners are now parked. 1,167 aircraft were
grounded last year, making 2008 the worst year for cutbacks since
According to data from aero-info-broker Ascend, more than 11
percent of the global aircraft fleet of 20,293 is now in storage.
Taking into account future decommissioning, that figure may even
rise to match the 13% reached at the end of 2001, following the
9/11 terrorist attacks on the US Then, the global fleet comprised
only 15,950 planes, so a similar share in 2009 could mean a total
of some 3,000 idle airliners.
Chris Seymour, Head of Market Analysis at Ascend, says,
“The aviation fleet data shows that at least 400 more
aircraft are scheduled to be cut during 2009, with groundings being
announced almost daily. This is having a negative effect on
aircraft values and lease rates, and creating real challenges for
the aircraft financing community.”
Regional breakdowns also suggest that most regions have felt the
impact of a weakening global economy. North American carriers have
announced fleet reductions totaling almost 800 aircraft since
mid-2008, while European carriers have parked over 450 aircraft and
Asia/Pacific airlines at least 230. The Middle East region has not
been affected to the same degree however, with Emirates airline
announcing a planned 14 percent increase in capacity in 2009.
According to Seymour, the severe increase in aircraft groundings
is a clear indication of drastic cost-cutting measures by airlines
as they adjust to the challenging global economic climate, consumer
belt-tightening and reduction in cargo traffic.
“Some reduction in capacity is typical over winter months
as passenger traffic decreases. But this season’s fleet cuts
were far more severe than those of the recent past.”
Planes On Ice In Desert Sand
One benefactor of increased plane groundings is set to be the
aviation storage business, based primarily in the Arizona and
Californian deserts of America.
Aircraft boneyards are a good barometer of the state of the
arirline industry, Seymour says. “Generally speaking, the
fuller the aircraft boneyards, the tougher the market conditions.
Storage facilities are already filled with a surplus of older
technology 727s, 737s and MD-80s, many of which will never fly
again. However some younger aircraft and many of the 250 current
generation aircraft will eventually be returned to service once the
Ascend's Seymour adds that, “The increase in groundings
shows the extent to which consumer demand has lessened, and is
necessary if airlines are to adjust to the more challenging
operating environment... With new deliveries still likely to be
around 1,000 this year, subject to financing, airlines also have to
park older aircraft to avoid even more surplus capacity.”