Glareskin
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USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 8:46 pm

Yesterday I've read a big article in USA today about the problems that the the airlines in the US are in by the aging fleet. The youngest fleet belongs to CO (9 years) and the oldest to NW (18 year). Randy Baseler mentions that it will become a problem for the US legacies to get production slots since Airbus and Boeing have a full production until 2010 - 2013. This will lead to old fleet with gas-guzzling aircraft and too high maintenance costs. The only airline that has recognized this so far is US. The US CEO mentions that he saw this problem coming and therefore ordered new Airbuses for about $10 Billion. The only other big airline without problems is SW. This is the only airline in the US with a good cash flow and profitability. They just keep ordering 737's. For the other major's the problem is financing. The article suggests that they will have to lease all new aircraft because of poor credit ratings and marginal profits.
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OzarkD9S
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 9:19 pm

The "aging fleet" scare tactic comes up every now and then when they don't have anything else to slam the airline industry on. Most of us on here know that a well maintained airplane (ESPECIALLY a DC-9  Wink ) can fly indefinately.
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ehho
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 9:33 pm

Quoting OzarkD9S (Reply 1):
Most of us on here know that a well maintained airplane (ESPECIALLY a DC-9 ) can fly indefinately.

We do indeed. DC-3s still fly, and every now and then someone makes a working replica of the Wright brothers' aircraft. But the CASM of such projects is huge, if you like an industry metaphor. Obviously, NW DC-9s and AAs 757s and MD-80s are still a long way from those exotic examples, but the time will come when operating them in accordance with FAA standards will become really uneconomical. And if at that time frame availability will be difficult, like it appears to be for the coming few years, the airlines will defenitely have a problem. I think that is what Glareskin hints at.
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Glareskin
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 9:35 pm

Quoting OzarkD9S (Reply 1):
Most of us on here know that a well maintained airplane (ESPECIALLY a DC-9 ) can fly indefinately.

That was also mentioned in the article. But this still means that they will have to compete with aged material (not appealing to customers, especially interior) and have higher fuel and maintenance costs. But you are right, nothing wrong with safety.
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 9:40 pm

Quoting EHHO (Reply 2):
And if at that time frame availability will be difficult, like it appears to be for the coming few years, the airlines will defenitely have a problem. I think that is what Glareskin hints at.

Not me, but the article... But that is true, there will be no slots available. And the article also mentioned that 25 years ago the USA used 50% of the worlds production capacity for passenger jets but now this has been reduced to 25% which means they don't have the same influence on the manufacturers anymore.
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 9:40 pm

Quoting Glareskin (Reply 3):


But this still means that they will have to compete with aged material (not appealing to customers, especially interior) and have higher fuel and maintenance costs.

True enough. But the media likes attention grabbing headlines, then clarify the headline deep down in the article. A lot of people will see "Old Airplanes Will Drop Out Of The Sky And Wipe Out Your Loved Ones" and not read the rest of the story.
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wcs
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 9:44 pm

Quoting OzarkD9S (Reply 1):
The "aging fleet" scare tactic comes up every now and then when they don't have anything else to slam the airline industry on.

Well, I tend to disagree. Like it or not, the aging fleet is true. Jut take a look at AA and Delta, with domestic planes for example. Everybody is agree there. It's factual.


Quoting OzarkD9S (Reply 1):
Most of us on here know that a well maintained airplane (ESPECIALLY a DC-9 ) can fly indefinately.

Maybe not indefinitively, but for still quite a long time. That's not the real concern. The one is, in my opinion, how long could legacies stay competitive with old planes, weak in comfort and amenities? How long could the legacies keep this old and inefficient birds on the sky? Jut take a look worldwide. Europe is filled with recent airplanes almost everywhere. Asia and Middle East, the same.

I also saw this article on US Newspaper. The journalist took AA example. Once there are committed to move forward with the Mad Dogs, it could take 10 to 15 years to renew the whole fleet, with the hypothesis of 2 new planes per month.

Having such a huge fleet to renew is time/resources consuming for sure. It could also be a big challenge with scheduling. Last but not least, the capital involved is Gigantic.

My 2 cents.
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OzarkD9S
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 9:52 pm

Quoting WCS (Reply 6):


Having such a huge fleet to renew is time/resources consuming for sure. It could also be a big challenge with scheduling. Last but not least, the capital involved is Gigantic.

I agree. But I wasn't arguing the economics of aging aircraft operations/replacement. I was pointing out how the media overreacts.

"Airlines Safer Then Ever" or "No News Today" doesn't sell papers.
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 9:53 pm

does anybody have a link to the story?

I think the US airlines have made mistakes with the narrowbody sector. They counted on Boeing and Airbus rolling out a replacement. Well, it doesn't sound like that is going to happen soon until greater advances in engine technology are made. We shall see...
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wcs
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 9:55 pm

Quoting OzarkD9S (Reply 7):
"Airlines Safer Then Ever" or "No News Today" doesn't sell papers

I got you.

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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:06 pm

Quoting Micstatic (Reply 8):
I think the US airlines have made mistakes with the narrowbody sector. They counted on Boeing and Airbus rolling out a replacement.

No - they have simply made the mistake to wanting to keep too long one plane generation for commonality reasons. Look at AA for example - still hanging on the MD-80 with a somewhat limited B737-800. With such a large fleet you start with a fleet renewal as early as possible - little chance to keep one generation for two generations (i.e. keep the MD-80s but don´t replace them with the B737 but wait for the B737RS). That´s simply not working - once a new generation is on the market (roughly every 18-20 years) every airline will want to have it because it is better and cheaper to operate. Demand is high, production capacities are limited - where to queeze in your 500 plane order? Not working - means you are stuck with a 25-30 old plane as your fleet´s backbone when your competition is introducing shiny new equipment.

Fast forward: your competition is now flying something with a DOC gap of say 25-30% compared to your planes. Financing costs make up for this for the first few years - but they have the "new-plane-appeal" - you have the rost-bucket-appeal. Your competition is able to lower their fare - you have to increase them as your fleet becomes older (more maintenance heavy) and fuel isn´t getting cheaper either.

Bottomline: AA, DL and friends have more or less missed out one generation and it will start to bite them sooner than they like.
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:07 pm

Taking AA's fleet as an example, would it make sense to go for a three pronged solution to the problem, by buying 737NGs, A320s and E170-195 to solve the problem of delivery slots?

From my recollection the F100 is missed by AA, as the CRJ-700 is too small for some routes, while the MD-80 is to large.

50-100 E190s
100 737NGs
100 A32X

Might make sense, when you could turn over an old gas guzzling fleet much faster.

Speaking of E-jets, how soon could you get a delivery position for one of these from Embraer? With Boeing and Airbus sold out too 2010-13 Embraer might look more interesting for airlines in the market for a 100-120 seater.
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:12 pm

Hmm, the USAToday likes to recycle this story every 6 months or so. Sells papers, yawn.

Well, if they only look at Airbus & Boeing then they are missing two other major manufacturers that currently are competing at the low end of the narrowbody segment.

Quoting WCS (Reply 6):
The one is, in my opinion, how long could legacies stay competitive with old planes, weak in comfort and amenities?

New planes are virtually no different in amenities and comfort these days, particularly for narrowbodies flown on domestic routes.

Quoting WCS (Reply 6):
Europe is filled with recent airplanes almost everywhere. Asia and Middle East, the same.

Helps if you have a state-supported airline.

In the US you have multiple conflicting demands
1) Customers demand cheap, bargain basement fares
2) Employees want good wages & benefits
3) Investors want a return on their investment
4) Oil companies want more for fuel
 
AAflyguy
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:12 pm

Did this article only focus on the legacy carriers? I need to take a look, because both B6 & FL are now classified as Major Carriers, and they have a fleet age of probably only 3-years. It seems the research didn't include the LCC's, even those which are in the same category as the legacy carriers.

I'll say that while I have no fear of flying on a DC-9, I prefer not to. NW is the only US carrier flying them on scheduled service, and with the number in the fleet, they're not going to be retired very quickly. It seems that about half of the NW mainline service @ DTW is operated with DC-9's. Old & LOUD is how I'd describe those planes. Again, not a fear, but a preference not to fly on them.

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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:28 pm

Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 12):
Helps if you have a state-supported airline.

In the US you have multiple conflicting demands
1) Customers demand cheap, bargain basement fares
2) Employees want good wages & benefits
3) Investors want a return on their investment
4) Oil companies want more for fuel

At least in Europe
1) customers demand cheap, bargin basement fares
2) employees want good wages & benefits
3) investors want a return on their investment
4) oil companies want more for fuel...

Except for maybe Alitalia and Olypmic all still somewhat state-owned carriers have the clear order from their shareholders to make money - no protection here from the market. And above all is the EC, which is quite fast at handing out hefty fines if something isn´t done in accordance to the law. But that´s OT in this topic.

Quoting CEO@AFG (Reply 11):
50-100 E190s
100 737NGs
100 A32X

Might make sense, when you could turn over an old gas guzzling fleet much faster.

Might be sensable as the advantage of commonality is no longer such a valid argument when you reach a sub-fleet size of 50 or so (Lufthansa once stated that they want to have a minimum sub-fleet of 15 frames to make things work - 50 seems to be generous already).
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:28 pm

Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 12):
New planes are virtually no different in amenities and comfort these days, particularly for narrowbodies flown on domestic routes

I tend to disagree. Give our-self a try between AA and Frontier for example. Quit different experience! And it's not just IFE, it's the overall look of the aircraft and the cabin. I flown NW in first last week, DC9, round trip. That's quite a vintage cabin. More leg room, wider seat. Apart that, the cabin looked horrible, the fabric dirty.

Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 12):
Helps if you have a state-supported airline.

Not sure how paid for BA 320. Same for LH, Swiss and IB. I have no idea for AF. Definitively not the case for easyJet and Ryanair.

I'm not sure that's the fair reason. Legacies did not took the opportunities to began fleet renewal early enough. Now with huge fleet, it's quite a challenge. Now you also have Southwest in the US with a regular aircraft rotation. There are doing fine!

My 2 cents,

[Edited 2007-07-13 15:42:33]
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Glareskin
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:36 pm

Quoting Micstatic (Reply 8):
does anybody have a link to the story?

I've read it in a printed paper. They still make these....

Quoting Flying-Tiger (Reply 10):
Bottomline: AA, DL and friends have more or less missed out one generation and it will start to bite them sooner than they like.

I also think AA. DL, CO and friend have a limitation because they are not considering Airbus. Southwest is probably a different story since they operate a single type fleet.

Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 12):
Hmm, the USAToday likes to recycle this story every 6 months or so. Sells papers, yawn.

Doesn't make it less true though...

Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 12):
Helps if you have a state-supported airline.

Which one?
In the US you have multiple conflicting demands
1) Customers demand cheap, bargain basement fares
Have you ever heard of Ryanair, Easyjet, AirBerlin and the dozens of successful lowcost carriers in Europe?
2) Employees want good wages & benefits
I don't think employees are cheap in social paradise Europe
3) Investors want a return on their investment
Investors accept losses in Europe?
4) Oil companies want more for fuel
I'm not into the prices for jet-fuel but car fuels in Europe are 3-4 times more expensive!
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:38 pm

Quoting WCS (Reply 15):
I flown NW in first last week, DC9, round trip. That's quite a vintage cabin. More leg room, wider seat. Apart that, the cabin looked horrible, the fabric dirty

The cabin may have needed a more thorough cleaning that it received but it is not the original cabin from the 60's or early 1970's. The interiors were replaced with 717 style equipment when the planes were hush-kitted in the mid 1990's.
 
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:48 pm

Quoting OzarkD9S (Reply 5):
But the media likes attention grabbing headlines, then clarify the headline deep down in the article.

What a lame generalization...

Quoting OzarkD9S (Reply 5):
"Old Airplanes Will Drop Out Of The Sky And Wipe Out Your Loved Ones" and not read the rest of the story.

And where's the link to that story?

Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 12):
Helps if you have a state-supported airline.

You shouldn't ignore all the privatized carriers...

Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 12):
1) Customers demand cheap, bargain basement fares
2) Employees want good wages & benefits
3) Investors want a return on their investment
4) Oil companies want more for fuel

Do you seriously think that these aspects are only relevant in the US?

Quoting AAflyguy (Reply 13):
Old & LOUD is how I'd describe those planes.

I didn't notice anything of that when I flew on a 40-year old DC-9 a few months ago. Actually, the flight wasn't much different from the B717 ride two days later.


PH

[Edited 2007-07-13 15:52:24]
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:56 pm

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 18):


What a lame generalization...

Lame perhaps. But true often enough.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 18):


And where's the link to that story?

 Yeah sure
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 11:03 pm

Quoting OzarkD9S (Reply 19):
But true often enough.

Probably, but still no reason to generalize. Slamming "the media" after one bad article is like slamming the whole airline business after one bad flight.


PH
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 11:08 pm

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 20):


Probably, but still no reason to generalize. Slamming "the media" after one bad article is like slamming the whole airline business after one bad flight.

Or calling everyone on A-net nit-picky because of a few anal retentive posters?

I think I get it now.
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 11:13 pm

Quoting OzarkD9S (Reply 21):
Or calling everyone on A-net nit-picky because of a few anal retentive posters?

 checkmark 


PH
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Glareskin
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 11:14 pm

Quoting AAflyguy (Reply 13):
Did this article only focus on the legacy carriers? I need to take a look, because both B6 & FL are now classified as Major Carriers, and they have a fleet age of probably only 3-years. It seems the research didn't include the LCC's, even those which are in the same category as the legacy carriers.

Actually the article did mention the LLC's and new carriers in the US together with foreign competition as the big problem for the legacy carriers.
What the article didn't mention is the new foreign concepts coming to the US. With the new open-skies agreement expect mote troubles. Ryanair, Virgin, and other parties that successfully experimented with new concepts are going to fish in the same pond now! This will probably become a problem for the European and Asian legacy carriers as well...
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ikramerica
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 11:19 pm

Quoting Glareskin (Thread starter):
. The only airline that has recognized this so far is US

It will come as a shock to CO that they "haven't recognized this so far", with the youngest fleet. 25 787s on order, 737-900ERs on order, oldest jet is the 733 which is being retired except for the newest ones, which will get winglets to improve efficiency. The 735s are barely older than the 73Gs (10 years vs. 8 years).
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 11:21 pm

Quoting WCS (Reply 6):
with old planes, weak in comfort and amenities?

 confused 
Since when did new equate to comfort?
Anyone here that remembers flight before deregulation would disagree with you.
Anyhow, an early production AA 757-200 in coach has the same comfort as a brand new JetBlue A320.
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Fri Jul 13, 2007 11:48 pm

Quoting Superfly (Reply 25):
Since when did new equate to comfort

I did not try to find a direct connection between New and comfort. But, as a matter of fact, comfort is higher on an Frontier A319 than in a AA Super 80, where nothing is Super anymore by the way  Wink. Better seat, IFE, wider cabin, in decent condition, ... all that add comfort.

Having flown a lot domestic in the US, with quite a few carriers, in various cabin (Coach, First, E+), that's my point of view. Give me Frontier any day over AA (coach), for example. With Virgin coming, it will be even worse/better, depending of the choice.

The point there is legacies tends to have older, less efficient plane. On top of that, the product is clearly weaker.

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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 12:01 am

Quoting WCS (Reply 26):
But, as a matter of fact, comfort is higher on an Frontier A319 than in a AA Super 80, where nothing is Super anymore by the way . Better seat, IFE, wider cabin, in decent condition, ... all that add comfort.

Having flown a lot domestic in the US, with quite a few carriers, in various cabin (Coach, First, E+), that's my point of view. Give me Frontier any day over AA (coach), for example. With Virgin coming, it will be even worse/better, depending of the choice.

The point there is legacies tends to have older, less efficient plane. On top of that, the product is clearly weaker.

It all depends on whether the carrier chooses to refurbish/equip the 'old' airplane. There are more amenities, for example, on a 10 year old Delta 757 with the AVOD PTVs at each seat than on a 4 year old Lufthansa or Swiss A321 with overhead drop down monitors.

[Edited 2007-07-13 17:02:31]
 
Glareskin
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 12:03 am

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 24):
It will come as a shock to CO that they "haven't recognized this so far", with the youngest fleet.

I agree. I'm sorry I didn't exclude CO. The article was more pointing at AA, DL and UA and even at NW eventhough they are ordering new jets in the last few years.
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wcs
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 12:05 am

Quoting Panamair (Reply 27):
It all depends on whether the carrier chooses to refurbish/equip the 'old' airplane

True regarding comfort level, but still, no way to address efficiency limitations.

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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 12:10 am

How many airlines in Europe have 360 MD-80's, or 100 DC-9's, let alone that many aircraft in their entire fleet?

The magnitude of replacement and pure cost of doing so is astronomical, hence why it can take so long to do so.

The perfect storm that essentially collasped the US aviation industry hit at the worst possible time in regards to fleet renewal. Had things continued to go gang-busters like they had in the late-90's, airlines were primed to go and begin fleet renewals in the mid-2000's. When the bottom fell out, that was one of the first things to go on hold simply because the money was not there, and they went into survival mode.

Another problem is that airlines expanded very quickly and took a ton of new planes back in the 80's & 90's in a short period of time. They were going crazy with expansion, and you saw a few of the older/smaller names in the industry go away. Investors are quick to pour money into an expanding company thats buying new aircraft, but the same cannot be said when an airline wants to do a replacement, more or less for the status quo.

Quoting WCS (Reply 15):
I tend to disagree. Give our-self a try between AA and Frontier for example. Quit different experience! And it's not just IFE, it's the overall look of the aircraft and the cabin. I flown NW in first last week, DC9, round trip. That's quite a vintage cabin. More leg room, wider seat.

We're talking apples and oranges here. Yes, F9 received those aircraft, they were net, new. When NW, AA, DL, & UA replace those narrowbodies I doubt you will see a significant difference in on-board ammenities. There are differing opinion out on whether PTV's/IFE are a determining factor in airline selection on short domestic flights. And, no the a.net crowd is not a good representation of the flying public. The cost for replacing these aircraft is huge, and adding PTVs/IFE just increases the costs even more. As for interiors, the NW DC-9 interiors are from the late 90's, same as AA's MD-80's. They are not ancient.
 
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 12:12 am

Quoting WCS (Reply 26):
But, as a matter of fact, comfort is higher on an Frontier A319 than in a AA Super 80, where nothing is Super anymore by the way

Well at least the livery is still Super! Big grin
I know that means nothing when you are inside.

Quoting WCS (Reply 26):
With Virgin coming, it will be even worse/better, depending of the choice.

I do look forward to Virgin America.  Cool
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 12:37 am

Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 30):
How many airlines in Europe have 360 MD-80's, or 100 DC-9's, let alone that many aircraft in their entire fleet?

US legacies do have huge domestic fleet, that’s true. Is there in Europe fleet superior or equal than 360 (entire fleet)? Of course, LH, AF, …

What is the big deal there? Huge fleet? But one can figure huge revenue, too. I don’t know how aircraft are amortized in the US (accounting wise), but it should be just like there in Europe. Don’t get me wrong: huge revenue is somewhat different than huge profit. The overall size of legacies domestic network is amazing. That's a lot of capital to invest, with a ROI quite difficult to find, I figure. But still, you have Southwest with quite a big fleet, always on the black as far as I know, with a decent fleet over all. Revenue management is everything nowadays. Some years ago, the focus was different. Bigger was better.

Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 30):
The perfect storm that essentially collasped the US aviation industry hit at the worst possible time in regards to fleet renewal

Definitively. And the vicious circle was started.

Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 30):
Another problem is that airlines expanded very quickly and took a ton of new planes back in the 80's & 90's in a short period of time. They were going crazy with expansion

Agree one more time. Focus was network, not revenue.



Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 30):
When NW, AA, DL, & UA replace those narrowbodies I doubt you will see a significant difference in on-board ammenities. There are differing opinion out on whether PTV's/IFE are a determining factor in airline selection on short domestic flights. And, no the a.net crowd is not a good representation of the flying public.

True. By the way, IFE seems to be popular with JetBlue and Frontier. I can't tell if it's the killer feature, but it add some sort of comfort.

Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 30):
As for interiors, the NW DC-9 interiors are from the late 90's, same as AA's MD-80's. They are not ancient.

Maybe not ancient about the age, but clearly crappy. They just drive such a lame image ...  Sad



Quoting Superfly (Reply 31):
Well at least the livery is still Super!

Well, that's subjective. I personally found it very 80's, somewhat old fashioned.

Regards,
Rahaël
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Glareskin
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 1:45 am

Quoting WCS (Reply 32):
True. By the way, IFE seems to be popular with JetBlue and Frontier. I can't tell if it's the killer feature, but it add some sort of comfort.

IFE, modern aircraft, most aspects are better with the new / LLC carriers. The legacy carriers are scoring mostly by network and intl. connections. That is why carriers like EK and QR are so successful. They simply codeshare and give miles to different international airlines. Membership of an alliance would limit them...
There's still a long way to go before all the alliances deserve a star...
 
SkyyMaster
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 2:10 am

I was sufficiently PO'ed by the article I wrote a letter to the editor of USA Today. I agree it's just one of those sensational headlines to grab peoples attention and increase sales.

While I disagree with the poster that an airliner can be flown indefinitely, a well maintained aircraft can be used for decades. I have no qualms about getting on a 35 year old DC-9 operated by Northwest. However, were I ever to travel to say Africa or Indonesia (just recent examples), I would be much more hesitant to get on an older aircraft. They are as good as the airline maintenance programs allow them to be.

As for aircraft interiors, the age of the aircraft shouldn't really have any bearing on the interior. Sure a new airliner is going to be all shiny and new. This does not mean an older airliner cannot have the same appearance. It's up to the airline flying it. They can choose to gut the interiors and refurbish them, or not. It depends on how many $$$ they wish to put into them. I've been on some nice AA mad dogs that sure looked better on the inside than certain Blue Airbii. Again, it's up to the airline to decide.

True, at some point an airline has to decide whether an aircraft is worth the cost to fly. NW's recent announcement that they are getting rid of some 319's proves that they deem it cheaper to fly a/c that are paid for than pay leases or payments on new planes. Economics will eventually necessitate replacements, especially considering the price of fuel is unlikely to go down much, if at all. I just hate it when the media jumps on stuff like this. Don't they know before publishing ANY article they should consult with us experts here on a.net first?  laughing 
 
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lightsaber
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 3:08 am

The basic problem is the airlines low credit ratings.

IF an airline had a decent credit rating and some profits, it is worth rotating out aircraft at either 7 or 21 years. Those historically (at the 1st or 3rd D check) been the optimal times to rotate a fleet.

Let's take AA. Right now the cost benefit of replacing an MD-80 with a 738 is low due to the high (12%+) lease interest rates. However, under an environment of 9% interest rates... The 738 would cost less per flight than the MD-80. And yes, I'm assuming a paid of MD-80!  wideeyed  Let's also not forget operation flexibility. A 738 can fly coast to coast, decent short field performance, and is just as bullet proof as those DC-9's.  Wink Now fast forward 5 years. The per flight costs of the 738 end up being 10% lower to 15% lower than the MD-80... And then its time to introduce the 737RS.

Legacy employees like to bash WN, B6, and F9 on these forums... but they're keeping their fleet young. (I'm very impressed with F9 and their transition to the A319 from the 733... Its almost as if they knew oil was going to break $60/bbl...).

Quoting Flying-Tiger (Reply 10):
once a new generation is on the market (roughly every 18-20 years) every airline will want to have it because it is better and cheaper to operate.

 checkmark 

Quoting OzarkD9S (Reply 1):
Most of us on here know that a well maintained airplane (ESPECIALLY a DC-9 Wink ) can fly indefinately.

 rotfl 

Quoting Flying-Tiger (Reply 10):
Financing costs make up for this for the first few years

If the airline's credit is bad... If their credit is good (a la WN), the payoff is in the black after the first quarter of flying. It also depends on mission length. I'm still amazed at how good the 732's economics are on short hops (e.g., interisland Hawaii).

For example Winglets on the 738 are expected to save 130,000 gallons/year of fuel. That about $170k/airplane/year for a few percent cut in fuel burn. Not much... unless you multiply it by 100X.  spin 
http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11839&page=18

Quoting SkyyMaster (Reply 34):
NW's recent announcement that they are getting rid of some 319's proves that they deem it cheaper to fly a/c that are paid for than pay leases or payments on new planes.

For NW that is true, but there current lease costs are high.  Sad

The break even on cost for a DC-9 (paid) vs. E-190 (leased) was $35/bbl oil back when NW could get lower lease rates... So if B6 can get their E-190 hours up... NW will be at a disadvantage.


Lightsaber
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nycaviator
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 3:25 am

I agree that many of the US airlines have older fleets. However it can be guaranteed that the mechanics keep the planes in top notch shape. The drawback of this is that the airlines will have to put more money into updating these fleets. Alot of the airlines are not financially stable as it is.
The airlines must review and assess this situation immediately.
I also read somewhere (a while ago) that AA, CO, and DL signed something saying they will only have an all Boeing fleet. It probably would be very cost efficient if these airlines considered acquiring some A320s or A321's. Just my opinion. That might help keep costs lower.

Quoting AAflyguy (Reply 13):
Old & LOUD is how I'd describe those planes

I was standing in my backyard and heard one of these DC-9's fly overhead. It was by far the loudest jet I heard on it's climb. Mind you, I live a radious about 20 miles away from EWR. That was VERY loud.

And what is with the dark fumes coming from the tail of the plane during its climb? I notice this mainly on all NW planes. Especially the DC-9.
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flysherwood
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 3:30 am

Quoting WCS (Reply 6):
How long could the legacies keep this old and inefficient birds on the sky? Jut take a look worldwide. Europe is filled with recent airplanes almost everywhere. Asia and Middle East, the same.

Well I think that NWA recognizes this and that is why they are spending money on their new planes for their overseas widebody operations. Hence the pretty new A330 and the coming 787's that they ordered. As far as domestic, those "old" 757's are a lot more comfortable than the 737's that WN operates even though the WN plane may be so much newer.
 
Glareskin
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 3:36 am

Quoting Nycaviator (Reply 36):
I also read somewhere (a while ago) that AA, CO, and DL signed something saying they will only have an all Boeing fleet. It probably would be very cost efficient if these airlines considered acquiring some A320s or A321's. Just my opinion. That might help keep costs lower.

Bingo! It's like giving an order and afterwards asking for discount. Plus maybe Airbus might have a better aircraft for some missions...

Quoting Nycaviator (Reply 36):
I was standing in my backyard and heard one of these DC-9's fly overhead. It was by far the loudest jet I heard on it's climb. Mind you, I live a radious about 20 miles away from EWR. That was VERY loud.

Good point! Carriers might bump into new environmental (including noise) regulations. Especially in Europe this will be an issue at slot restricted airports. As an example AMS has a noise agreement. They could limit airlines with older, noisier aircraft if they exceed the noise limits.
There's still a long way to go before all the alliances deserve a star...
 
ChiGB1973
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 3:40 am

Quoting Glareskin (Reply 4):
Not me, but the article... But that is true, there will be no slots available. And the article also mentioned that 25 years ago the USA used 50% of the worlds production capacity for passenger jets but now this has been reduced to 25% which means they don't have the same influence on the manufacturers anymore.

Who were the big boys 25 years ago? Pan Am, Eastern, TWA, Braniff. Were those further back?

I did not look up any facts, but for some reason those defunct airlines came to mind. Maybe it wasn't a good idea and the current big boys have learned? Maybe I am just talking nonsense?

M
 
GlobalATL
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 3:47 am

USA Today. They're full of CRAP. Especially when it comes to reporting the aviation industry.
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TUNisia
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 3:50 am

US Airways has a very trashy fleet of 737s, esp on the West side of the company. It's shameful really. Look at their trashy 767s they use across the pond compared to what ANY OTHER airline's product is. Their so-called "upgrade" is a complete joke and is barely and improvement. The folks in Tempe seem to have spent too much time in the sun.

They can't get those new planes from Airbus soon enough (plus some new management)!
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wcs
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 3:54 am

Quoting Flysherwood (Reply 37):
Well I think that NWA recognizes this and that is why they are spending money on their new planes for their overseas widebody operations

Every single carrier is looking deeply into the fleet economics to tweak it with current planes and to improve it with new ones. Now the challenge is to strike a balance between short term improvement over long term fleet renewal. With Airbus and Boeing "slots restricted" to say the least and huge domestic fleet, there is some hard decision to make. Add the yet to come "RS" version on the pipe and you have another lag for commitment to emerge.
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flysherwood
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 5:03 am

Quoting Glareskin (Reply 38):
Good point! Carriers might bump into new environmental (including noise) regulations. Especially in Europe this will be an issue at slot restricted airports. As an example AMS has a noise agreement. They could limit airlines with older, noisier aircraft if they exceed the noise limits.

I don't think the American legacies are operating old noisy aircraft to Europe, are they?
 
max999
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 5:44 am

Quoting Lightsaber (Reply 35):
The basic problem is the airlines low credit ratings.

IF an airline had a decent credit rating and some profits, it is worth rotating out aircraft at either 7 or 21 years. Those historically (at the 1st or 3rd D check) been the optimal times to rotate a fleet.

Let's take AA. Right now the cost benefit of replacing an MD-80 with a 738 is low due to the high (12%+) lease interest rates. However, under an environment of 9% interest rates... The 738 would cost less per flight than the MD-80. And yes, I'm assuming a paid of MD-80! wideeyed Let's also not forget operation flexibility. A 738 can fly coast to coast, decent short field performance, and is just as bullet proof as those DC-9's. Wink Now fast forward 5 years. The per flight costs of the 738 end up being 10% lower to 15% lower than the MD-80... And then its time to introduce the 737RS.

I wish someone would post a link to the article... The original post only talked about economics of old aircraft and somehow this discussion has veered towards passenger comfort, amenities, and aircraft interiors.

Lightsaber, you're correct that it all comes down to credit ratings. NW's long term credit ratings is currently rated by S&P as B+, which means NW is non-investment grade and highly speculative. This also means their lease rates for those A319s probably are very high when compared to the operating costs of the DC9s which have no payments. If NW had their finances in order, they would have accelerated the retirement of older aircraft because the DC9s are gas guzzlers.

So the USA Today article is only pointing out that the higher costs of aging aircraft will hurt the US legacies' chances of maintaining consistent profitability going forward. I don't think this is a sensational story about old planes falling out of the sky.
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MD80Nut
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 5:48 am

Quoting GlobalATL (Reply 40):
USA Today. They're full of CRAP. Especially when it comes to reporting the aviation industry.

And that, my friends, is the most relevant bit of information on this article. With me USA Today has less credibility than the National Enquirer. They are a primary source of FARK.

Cheers, Ralph
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access-air
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 5:49 am

Quoting AAflyguy (Reply 13):
It seems that about half of the NW mainline service @ DTW is operated with DC-9's. Old & LOUD is how I'd describe those planes. Again, not a fear, but a preference not to fly on them.

If not fear, then what? Please explain......

Quoting SkyyMaster (Reply 34):
While I disagree with the poster that an airliner can be flown indefinitely, a well maintained aircraft can be used for decades. I have no qualms about getting on a 35 year old DC-9 operated by Northwest. However, were I ever to travel to say Africa or Indonesia (just recent examples), I would be much more hesitant to get on an older aircraft. They are as good as the airline maintenance programs allow them to be.

Amen to that.....I definately wouldnt get onto a former US operated aircraft that made its way to the above mentioned areas, mainly because the govenrments are so corrupt and maintenance so shoddy or even non-existant.

Heaven help us when the Airbii start making their ways to 3rd world airline fleets....DC9s and 737s are relatively easy planes to maintian but, what about the complexities of newer planes?

No I dont agree with the assumption that USA Today is making. I wonder how many aircraft manufacturers are behind some of the anti-older aircraft propoganda?

Maybe what they should have written the article, is the collection of all the many taxes on airline tickets that are suppsoed to be used to upgrade the airports and the hoplessly outdated Air Traffic Control system. No they would ratehr rip into the age of planes..

Myself, I would never hesitate to fly on a DC9 on Northwest.....Id love to fly on them all day if I could. And as for MD-80's...Oh come on.....maybe its me, but I dont even consider an MD-80 to be old. Yeah the DC9s are long in the tooth but I consider them to be well broken in....And if the MD-80 is such a bad plane, why hasnt AA and DL started dumping them.....Especially as fast as they dumped their 727s? The 727s are a plane the I sorely miss as well.....Its incredible to think that 9/11 is the ONLY reason that all the legacies dumped ther 727s than actual financial reasons.....

I have said it time and time again, we live in a disposable, upgradable world....lets look to see the day that an A320 is still flying for an the same airline 40 years after it entered service.....It will never happen, know why? Because it will have been replaced.....Nowadays, airliners are not built to last (well some of them) they are built to be replaced....Like an old computer.......

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WAH64D
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 5:55 am

Quoting Micstatic (Reply 8):
does anybody have a link to the story?

I think the US airlines have made mistakes with the narrowbody sector. They counted on Boeing and Airbus rolling out a replacement. Well, it doesn't sound like that is going to happen soon until greater advances in engine technology are made. We shall see...

The problem is that due to the inherent nature of narrowbody short haul operations you need to have a large reduction in operating cost to see much of a benefit on such short sectors. Couple this with fleet renewal costs and the uncertain market of the last 7 or so years and its easy to see why the US majors have been reluctant to make a decision.
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ceray
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 5:59 am

Quoting AAflyguy (Reply 13):
It seems that about half of the NW mainline service @ DTW is operated with DC-9's. Old & LOUD is how I'd describe those planes. Again, not a fear, but a preference not to fly on them.

I'm not a big DC9 fan, but if I remember correctly, NWA put all their fleet thru their 2000 upgrade program at the beginning of the decade. This rebuild and update, places these aircraft well capable in their present role. They are owned and funcitonal, and knowing NWA's mindset, they will fly the wings off of them. Old, not so. Loud, you bet. Gas guzzlers, you bet......
 
RIHNOSAUR
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RE: USA Today: US Airlines Aging Fleet Alarming

Sat Jul 14, 2007 6:24 am

Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 12):
New planes are virtually no different in amenities and comfort these days, particularly for narrowbodies flown on domestic routes.

I have to disagree, new planes offer some features that to me (as an average economy flyer) make a big difference. You could argue that they are details but as in many things in life , it is the small details that make a big difference.
I can think some of the top of my head:

-the IFE on newer planes is better or better yet exists...on most legacy carriers that I have been on in the US, the IFE really sucks A!&# or is not even there...
- The room available on the newer jets is big enough to make travelling feel more spacious
- The cleanliness and over all aspect will be better on the newer types of planes
- The sound......have you ever been on a Mad dog near the back.....IT BITES dude......compare that to hopping wing side o brand new A32X or the new Embrarers???

When ever I have a choice, which for me translates into a ticket's price to X destination modulo 100$, I will go for the carrier that has the newer equipment....and i do not think I am alone on this...although I de recognize that most people DO NOT pay attention to this....but eventually people do start to associate an airline with old planes.

My wife for example knows noting about planes and could care less but she will tell you she prefers to fly frontier ..or jet blue over AA DL and NW...take a guess as of why......I think its pretty obvious..

IMHO the only reason carriers like AA and similar legacy ones can get away with having such uncompetitive aircraft DOMESTICALLY is because there is not that much choice and the hubs are monopolized. so depending on where you want to fly ...you have almost predetermined what carrier will fly you there ..(if you are looking to get the cheapest)



Quoting PSU.DTW.SCE (Reply 30):
How many airlines in Europe have 360 MD-80's, or 100 DC-9's, let alone that many aircraft in their entire fleet?

Are you serious.........think about it for a sec......ok sure maybe AA has the record for mad dogs..but in terms of absolute numbers...come on...
particles and waves are the same thing, but who knows what that thing is...

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