The pandemic could soon mean a shortage of new airplanes, too

Pandemic produces 3,000 forever missing 737 and A320 deliveries.

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Release Date
December 15, 2022
The pandemic could soon mean a shortage of new airplanes, too
  • Even as the aviation industry awaits the return of travel to 2019 levels, the world’s growing economic growth continues to pull traffic higher.
  • The global supply of new single-aisle aircraft will enter 2026 25% smaller than originally planned just three years ago
  • A shortage of single-aisle aircraft could materialize as air travel realigns with global economic growth an unshakably consistent trend.

The unknown is a powerful thing. In March 2020, air travel disintegrated, dropping 97% in a matter of a week. Within seven days, over seven decades of air travel growth vanished. COVID became a household name.

In the face of this unprecedented uncertainty about the future, countries, companies, and families did what was necessary to survive. Costs were cut, assets were put into storage, and the world prepared for an economic winter, unlike anything it had experienced in the past hundred years.

Today, the aviation industry survives with the relative luxury of knowing what a worst-case scenario really looks like in a post-collapse world. Yet, the decisions made during the initial days of the global outbreaks — while staring down the abyss of the unknown — still hang over the industry today. Beyond labor shortages, constrained maintenance capacity, and a still-significant portion of the world’s fleet parked, a previously unthinkable challenge faces the industry as the global economy marches on.

We may not have enough airplanes.

In October, a joint publication between Visual Approach Analytics and Collateral Verifications (co-authored by your scribe) found strong evidence that aircraft production has not kept up with the economic recovery. The Five Year Market Outlook concluded that if the pandemic-broken link between economic growth and air travel continues its reconnection, the industry will be facing a shortage of aircraft.

This latest TAC Analysis dives into the outlook, considering the scenarios which could bring a shortage of aircraft to the industry, and what may be necessary to happen to avoid such a shortage.

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