Widebody aircraft rebound awaits a powerful catalyst that may not arrive

The twin-aisle jetliner finds itself fighting against time. Each month that passes without broad international travel further damages its market prospects.

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Release Date
October 3, 2022
Widebody aircraft rebound awaits a powerful catalyst that may not arrive
The global return of the narrowbody market has been spectacular, rising from the ashes of a pandemic collapse. Many of the same factors that enabled that rebound apply to the widebody aircraft market, however unique headwinds also persist. The result is a market awaiting a spark – to ignite a catalyst which may never arrive.

Even as COVID-19 infections raged, air travel defied expectations. As domestic and leisure travel showed a robust recovery, challenges with having sufficient single-aisle aircraft became apparent to TAC Analysis by mid-2021. By May 2022, industry giants were openly discussing the likelihood of a narrowbody shortage, including AerCap, the world’s largest commercial aircraft lessor.

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

The twin markers of a robust domestic travel recovery and subsequent need for single-aisle aircraft were clear. However, the inflection points that generated high confidence of a U.S. traffic resurgence and a shortfall of narrowbodies are not yet coalescing around renewed widebody demand.

Even as many factors point to a robust surprise in twin-aisle demand, just as many point to a stagnant market.

Related: Aerospace settles into persistent single-aisle feast and twin-aisle famine

We explore these conflicting factors in this TAC Analysis of the widebody market. Economic and regional headwinds are holding the widebody market in a stalemate. In such an uncertain market without clear direction, we instead focus on the coming changes that could send the widebody market to within reach of a shortage, or stagnate the market for years to come.

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