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  • 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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Courtney Miller is Managing Director of Analysis for The Air Current. Miller most recently spent 10-years with Bombardier Aerospace, serving as director, North America sales for the company’s commercial aircraft line and led airline marketing and analysis for the western hemisphere for airlines in North and South America and the community of global aircraft lessors. Miller is also founder of, where he merged industry history and analysis with insightful and beautiful data visualization to illustrate contemporary trends. Miller is a 3,000-hour U.S. airline pilot and began his career flying for U.S. regional airline Comair. He holds a Masters of Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle University and a Bachelors of Science in Aviation Technology from Purdue University. He is based in the Dallas, Texas Metroplex.

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