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Fleet makeup and Markets served

Posted: Sat Feb 29, 2020 1:31 pm
by PacoMartin
BTS data for domestic markets served for 2019 (mainline airlines, not regionals)
Delta Markets Served - 160
United Markets Served - 150
American Markets Served - 120
Southwest Markets Served - 92

Data from BTS as of 2/29/2020 Air Carrier Snapshots
https://www.transtats.bts.gov/carriers.asp?pn=1

We know that over 88% of air traffic in the US passes through just 61 airports. So clearly all four airlines are extended into some small or tiny airports.
Data from Passenger Boarding (Enplanement) and All-Cargo Data for U.S. Airports (CY 2018 Passenger Boarding Data)
https://www.faa.gov/airports/planning_capacity/passenger_allcargo_stats/passenger/

For Southwest I think the smallest airport that they serve is Harlingen Valley International in Texas, which is a holdover to the 1970s. They wouldn't consider an airport like that in the last 15 years since they become the #1 domestic carrier (by total number of passengers).

I think it is a given that even when domestic airline traffic doubles that some of these markets will still be very strong. It's just like population growth over the last century. The urban areas have increased over 8x, but the rural areas have grown very little.
Rural US population increased 29.3% from 1900 to 2010 (46.0 million to 59.5 million)
Urban US population increased 724.9% from 1900 to 2010 (30.2 million to 249.3 million)
DATA US Census Bureau

So an air carrier that serves much over ~60 city markets will require some small jets. Two decades from now Southwest will still need 143 seat B737-700, and Delta, United, and American cannot have a fleet where the smallest aircraft is B737-800 or MAX-8 or A320 unless they change their business plan and reduce the number of markets by a significant amount.

Do you agree with that statement?

Obviously some North American airlines are ordering smaller jets. Looking at Airbus orders
45 A220-100s, ordered by Delta
There have been four orders for the A220-300s: 50 Delta |70 Jetblue |60 Moxy |45 Air Canada
47 A319neos, ordered by Spirit
There have been three orders for the A320neos: 147 Frontier | 76 Spirit | 30 Virgin America (transferred to Alaska Airlines and not canceled as of today)
Data from Airbus orders and Deliveries
https://www.airbus.com/aircraft/market/orders-deliveries.html

Re: Fleet makeup and Markets served

Posted: Sat Feb 29, 2020 2:05 pm
by MIflyer12
PacoMartin wrote:
So an air carrier that serves much over ~60 city markets will require some small jets. Two decades from now Southwest will still need 143 seat B737-700, and Delta, United, and American cannot have a fleet where the smallest aircraft is B737-800 or MAX-8 or A320 unless they change their business plan and reduce the number of markets by a significant amount.


Why argue for 60 when WN already serves 92, and you acknowledge that population is both growing and concentrating in urban markets?

PacoMartin wrote:
For Southwest I think the smallest airport that they serve is Harlingen Valley International in Texas, which is a holdover to the 1970s. They wouldn't consider an airport like that in the last 15 years since they become the #1 domestic carrier (by total number of passengers).


You can't have it both ways, talking about domestic airports served by AA/DL/UA, and then pretending those regional networks don't exist by declaring WN the largest domestic carrier. Include the regionals and it isn't. Measure it by RPMs instead of passengers and it isn't.

DL has, over the last ten years, already changed its business model with the retirement of ~380 CR2/E145 jets. That's not just pushing passengers into CR7/CR9/E75 and 717/A220s. DL has dropped a net of more than 30 destinations even as it has added destinations in the West (as LAX and SEA have been built out).

I won't predict what regional or mainline wages will be in 15 years but I do believe that markets that can't support bigger jets/lower frequency/higher fares will see cuts. Thirty years ago weekdays at IPT (Williamsport, PA) saw 11 flights a day, to PIT and PHL. Looking at Flightaware, the entirety of scheduled passenger service this week is a single daily E145 to PHL operated by Piedmont. Those travelers - what few they may be - may be driving to Harrisburg (MDT) or State College (UNV).

United has already shown very stiff resistance to the idea of adding small mainline narrowbodies despite the constraint this poses on adding 70/76 seat jets. UA says it wants to build out a domestic network but has only 255 of those aircraft operating for UAX while DL has 325, and AA has 422 (all from annual reports, effective 12/31/19). That tells me UA is fearful productivity won't be high enough to support mainline wages and work rules in smaller aircraft. The whole 'They can operate E190-2s at mainline' argument just goes nowhere.

AA/DL/UA have affiliated RJ networks because costs have been sufficiently lower than mainline to leave some money in it. WN shows you can make $$$ without express flights, and by skipping many small markets. If the economics for new small aircraft development don't work, the RJ advantage goes away, and/or mainline entry-level wages climb rapidly, expect to see big changes in the networks.

There is no worthwhile argument independent of the average fares people in small markets are willing to pay, and the development and operating costs of relevant aircraft. None.

Re: Fleet makeup and Markets served

Posted: Sat Feb 29, 2020 5:48 pm
by PacoMartin
MIflyer12 wrote:
You can't have it both ways, talking about domestic airports served by AA/DL/UA, and then pretending those regional networks don't exist by declaring WN the largest domestic carrier. Include the regionals and it isn't. Measure it by RPMs instead of passengers and it isn't.


Southwest became the nation’s largest domestic air carrier in 2003 and maintains that ranking based on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s most recent reporting of domestic originating passengers boarded.
https://www.swamedia.com/pages/corporate-fact-sheet

I am not disputing your point. I was merely trying to make the point that an airport like Harlingen might have been attractive to Southwest in the 1970s, but the airline is too big today to look at an airport that small.

MIflyer12 wrote:
There is no worthwhile argument independent of the average fares people in small markets are willing to pay, and the development and operating costs of relevant airc I don't think they can serve all their markets with a B747raft. None.

I think that I am trying to make that point. Some markets will always remain so small that they cannot justify the costs of service with a Boeing 737-900ER with 179 seats (as per United configuration). We can expect future population growth to be concentrated in urban areas so these small airports won't change.

United will always need Airbus A319-100 with 126/128 seats or B37-700 with 126 seats as long as they are serving small markets with their mainline airline or an equivalent jet (like the A220). I don't think they can serve all their markets with the equivalent of a 737-900ER supplemented with United Express.

Airbus A319-131 First Flight 7 Mar 2002 Age 18.0 Years: youngest A319 in United Fleet purchased new from Airbus
Airbus A319-132 First Flight 7 Dec 2007 Age 12.2 Years: youngest A319 in United Fleet purchased used and leased

Re: Fleet makeup and Markets served

Posted: Sat Feb 29, 2020 5:52 pm
by NZ321
It seems to me that there continues to be a market for the ERJ45. Or similar in terms of size. But no more fuel efficient aicraft is on the horizon. Hence the abandonment of these towns that relie on such service to any kind of workable frequency. Trans States is gone as of the end of the year. Similar with the DH8Q300. They are disappearing. The only break we get is with the EMB175 new generation or A221 or similar. And there is a big gap. So what to do about this? Lots of small communities are indeed affected.I particularly think about those in the Rockies and more sparsely populated areas in the northwest and south. What's the solution? This slice of American aviation seems to been on the decline.

Re: Fleet makeup and Markets served

Posted: Sat Feb 29, 2020 6:52 pm
by Order
Do any experts in route planning have thoughts as to the extent to which these thin routes are needed to provide feed to sustain travel between hubs and larger cities or international?

Taken individually, it is minuscule, but in the aggregate, the regional networks as a whole might make or break some larger trunk routes?

As someone who lives in Chicago, I’m grateful for all of those regional flights because I’ve always assumed they play a large role in sustaining the frequency of flights to DCA, LAX, LGA where I normally find myself traveling. But, perhaps I’ve been overstating it?

Re: Fleet makeup and Markets served

Posted: Sat Feb 29, 2020 7:13 pm
by PacoMartin
NZ321 wrote:
Lots of small communities are indeed affected.I particularly think about those in the Rockies and more sparsely populated areas in the northwest and south.


You don't even have to look at areas that sparsely populated. There are 495 urban areas in the US as of the 2010 census. An "urban area" is a by definition a minimum of 50,000. Maybe 149 of those areas are over 250,000.

My urban area is ranked #61 and has a population of 664,651 so it is small, but not tiny. We only have about three round trips per day with a jet above regional airline size (76 seats). One daily Delta B717(C12W15Y83 or 110 seats) to Atlanta, and two Allegiant jets, A319 (Y156) or an A320(Y177).

Re: Fleet makeup and Markets served

Posted: Sat Feb 29, 2020 8:12 pm
by johns624
PacoMartin wrote:
NZ321 wrote:
Lots of small communities are indeed affected.I particularly think about those in the Rockies and more sparsely populated areas in the northwest and south.


You don't even have to look at areas that sparsely populated. There are 495 urban areas in the US as of the 2010 census. An "urban area" is a by definition a minimum of 50,000. Maybe 149 of those areas are over 250,000.

My urban area is ranked #61 and has a population of 664,651 so it is small, but not tiny. We only have about three round trips per day with a jet above regional airline size (76 seats). One daily Delta B717(C12W15Y83 or 110 seats) to Atlanta, and two Allegiant jets, A319 (Y156) or an A320(Y177).
You would get more flights if you were a stand alone metro area in the middle of nowhere but you are less that 90 miles from two huge hubs--EWR and PHI.

Re: Fleet makeup and Markets served

Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2020 1:29 am
by PacoMartin
johns624 wrote:
You would get more flights if you were a stand alone metro area in the middle of nowhere but you are less that 90 miles from two huge hubs--EWR and PHI.


I realize that. Omaha is only a slightly more populous urban area, and its airport was ranked #61, the smallest MEDIUM airport by FAA classification (i.e. has more than one-quarter of one percent of the nation's commercial passengers).

US urban areas 2010 census
#58 Omaha, NE–IA 725,008
#61 Allentown, PA–NJ 664,651

On the most recent month for which there is BTS data for Nebraska
62.42% of flights regional aircraft
29.35% of flights were on five types of aircraft (100-159 seats) MD-90, MD-88, B737-700, A319, B717
8.23% of flights were on aircraft with (160-186 seats ) A320, B737-800/900/900ER
2 flights were on aircraft with over 200 seats (United B757-300) with no widebodies

The MD-88, MD-90 will be retired before too many years, but I think it is safe to say that the smaller jets like B737-700 and A319 are an integral part of commercial transport to Nebraska.

But airlines are investing very little of their capital for new jets in this category. United in particular is upgrading it's aging small jet fleet solely by buying used A319s and B737-700s.


Looking at Airbus orders in North America
45 A220-100s, ordered by Delta
There have been four orders for the A220-300s: 50 Delta |70 Jetblue |60 Moxy |45 Air Canada
47 A319neos, ordered by Spirit
Data from Airbus orders and Deliveries
https://www.airbus.com/aircraft/market/ ... eries.html

We are only aware of 52 MAX-7 jets ordered by Southwest and Westjet from Boeing

Re: Fleet makeup and Markets served

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2020 10:21 am
by PacoMartin
One point is that the smaller jets are still instrumental in serving much of the networks. The US fleet of 1037 smaller jets is aging rapidly, and very few airlines are buying new jets of this size.

I know that people like to point out that jets can be active for a long time, and that the airlines are purchasing some used jets that are not as old to help the small jet fleet last long. But even orders put in today take years to start making deliveries, and normally an airline does not deliver more than a dozen of a particular model per year. You are talking about over 1000 jets in this list.


Yrs Airbus A319
18.2 United 82
18.0 Delta 57
15.9 American 133
15.1 Frontier 6
14.7 Allegiant Air 38
13.4 Spirit 31
12.4 Alaska 10
16.3 Total 357

Yrs Boeing 737-700
20.8 United 42
19.7 Alaska 14
15.6 Southwest 503
11.1 Delta 10
16.0 Total 569

Yrs Boeing 717-200
18.1 Hawaiian 20
18.4 Delta 91
18.3 Total 111

Obviously some North American airlines are ordering smaller jets. Looking at Airbus orders
45 A220-100s, ordered by Delta
There have been four orders for the A220-300s: 50 Delta |70 Jetblue |60 Moxy |45 Air Canada
47 A319neos, ordered by Spirit

Re: Fleet makeup and Markets served

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2020 2:30 pm
by JonesNL
PacoMartin wrote:
One point is that the smaller jets are still instrumental in serving much of the networks. The US fleet of 1037 smaller jets is aging rapidly, and very few airlines are buying new jets of this size.

I know that people like to point out that jets can be active for a long time, and that the airlines are purchasing some used jets that are not as old to help the small jet fleet last long. But even orders put in today take years to start making deliveries, and normally an airline does not deliver more than a dozen of a particular model per year. You are talking about over 1000 jets in this list.


Yrs Airbus A319
18.2 United 82
18.0 Delta 57
15.9 American 133
15.1 Frontier 6
14.7 Allegiant Air 38
13.4 Spirit 31
12.4 Alaska 10
16.3 Total 357

Yrs Boeing 737-700
20.8 United 42
19.7 Alaska 14
15.6 Southwest 503
11.1 Delta 10
16.0 Total 569

Yrs Boeing 717-200
18.1 Hawaiian 20
18.4 Delta 91
18.3 Total 111

Obviously some North American airlines are ordering smaller jets. Looking at Airbus orders
45 A220-100s, ordered by Delta
There have been four orders for the A220-300s: 50 Delta |70 Jetblue |60 Moxy |45 Air Canada
47 A319neos, ordered by Spirit


Can I make the simple deduction that 1037 small narrowbodies need replacement in the next decade or two? In an ideal 50-50 split for Airbus and Boeing this would entail that both Boeing and Airbus will receive several 100s of orders in the small narrowbodies segment in the US.

Re: Fleet makeup and Markets served

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2020 11:33 pm
by PacoMartin
The current fleet of large narrowbodies is at 863 and is a decade younger. Hundreds more are on order

1.8 Airbus A321-200 99 DL
7.5 Airbus A321-200 219 AA
3.6 Airbus A321-200 63 Jet Blue
3.1 Airbus A321-200 30 Spirit
3.3 Airbus A321-200 21 Frontier
0.4 Airbus A321neo 15 AA
1.9 Airbus A321neo 10 AS
0.3 Airbus A321neo 6 Jet Blue
1.3 Airbus A321neo 17 Hawaiian
1.4 Boeing 737 MAX 9 14 UA
8.1 Boeing 737-900 148 UA
3.5 Boeing 737-900 130 DL
5.9 Boeing 737-900 91 AS
5.2 Total 863

Like I said earlier Nebraska commercial air is 63% regional jets, 29% small narrowbodies, and 8% large narrowbodies, with only 2 B757-300s in the entire month and zero widebodies.

JonesNL wrote:
Can I make the simple deduction that 1037 small narrowbodies need replacement in the next decade or two? In an ideal 50-50 split for Airbus and Boeing this would entail that both Boeing and Airbus will receive several 100s of orders in the small narrowbodies segment in the US.


Possibly, but the orders for large narrowbodies and A330neos, A350s, and B787s still remains strong using a great deal of the fleet renewal budget. I think the question is will the US-3 invest the extra hundreds of billions of dollars, or will they simply abandon or severely curtail service to the markets with smaller numbers of air passengers. The other possibilities are that either pilot contracts will be renegotiated to allow more regional jets, or the new airlines like Moxy will explode quickly so that they have a fleet of thousands of jets. Of course, that assumes that production will accomodate that kind of growth.

Re: Fleet makeup and Markets served

Posted: Wed Mar 04, 2020 3:21 am
by PacoMartin
The average age in years for the US Airbus and Boeing fleet

average age in years -- count
12.3 Airbus and Boeing US - 4,179
14.1 Widebody - 529
22.0 B757 - 233
5.2 Large Narrowbody - 863
11.7 Mid Size Narrowbody - 1,484
15.9 Small Narrowbody - 1,070

Large Narrowbody: Boeing 737-900/ER ; Boeing 737 MAX 9 ; Airbus A321; Airbus A321neo
Mid Size Narrowbody: Boeing 737-800 ; Boeing 737 MAX 8; Airbus A320 ; Airbus A320neo
Small Narrowbody: Boeing 737-700 ; Boeing 737 MAX 7 ; Airbus A319 ; Airbus A319neo; B717

The B757s are the oldest category, but their replacement has been discussed for years.
The next oldest category is the "small narrowbody" but replacing them is almost never discussed. I think many people believe that they can be phased out without consequence. A natural consequence of increased activity is upgauging to larger jets. I just don't think that is completely true because most airports will remain small while large airports will continue to grow in size.

Airport growth will mirror general population growth over the last century. In 1900 the majority of the population was rural. Rural population is growing very slowly.
Rural US population increased 29.3% from 1900 to 2010 (46.0 million to 59.5 million)
Urban US population increased 724.9% from 1900 to 2010 (30.2 million to 249.3 million)
DATA US Census Bureau