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Waterbomber2
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Nationalisations: the return of the VLA's?

Sat May 02, 2020 6:54 am

Go back 30 years and VLA's like the B747 were all over the place as airlines owned by governments fought for market share in a very diluted aviation landscape.
Back then, it didn't matter if airlines were profitable, as long as they served a larger purpose of stimulating commerce in their nations.
We can see this still today in the way the UAE runs its airlines, but everywhere else, airlines have been downsized to serve only vital purposes, or reshaped to focus on profitability.

Due to the Covid-19 crisis, (re)nationalisation projects are being taken out of their dusty boxes, while airlines are seeking bailouts worth many years of profit, begging the question of whether it's meaningful for airlines to pursue profitability, at the expense of their role as vitalising infrastructures but also as huge employment vehicles.

In a post-covid-19 world, countries will be fighting for a financial and competitive edge.
We are already seeing some countries aligning their aviation companies for future competitivity with questionnably big bailouts.
Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, Swiss, to name the first-movers.

With profitability put on the sidelines for a while and emphasis on prestige and gaining market share in key markets over slower movers, may we see the return of big VLA's such as the B748 and A380's in the fleets? What will be the role of the B777X? Will nationalised airlines still seek huge fleets of smaller widebodies?

Your insight on how you see the market develop in the coming years.
 
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NameOmitted
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Re: Nationalisations: the return of the VLA's?

Sat May 02, 2020 7:15 am

Much of the reasoning behind VLAs 30 years ago was range, not size. That is no longer the case.
 
KlimaBXsst
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Re: Nationalisations: the return of the VLA's?

Sat May 02, 2020 7:51 am

KlimaBXsst wrote:
Bilaterals might have some merits again.
Country X should have a certain amount of control of what arrived from country Y. Especially considering how the Corona has decimated nations air travel, economy, employment, and connectivity.
Aesthetically the A 340 got it right!
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: Nationalisations: the return of the VLA's?

Sat May 02, 2020 9:27 am

Waterbomber2 wrote:
With profitability put on the sidelines for a while and emphasis on prestige and gaining market share in key markets over slower movers, may we see the return of big VLA's such as the B748 and A380's in the fleets? What will be the role of the B777X? Will nationalised airlines still seek huge fleets of smaller widebodies?


I disagree with this, just as airlines are recovering from the current crisis profitability will be more important than ever. There is no room for prestige and in some cases they might even sacrifice market share in order to become profitable again (pull out of non-profitable markets). The fact that they're nationalized doesn't make any difference, they still have to compete on the market. Governments won't back them forever, it's their goal to get the airlines independent again once that's possible. And make no mistake, some non-nationalized airlines will survive too and put pressure on the fares.

Therefor there won't be any return of VLA's, they've had their time. Airlines are massively retiring them at the moment, they cost too much to operate and are too hard to fill. The demand just isn't there. Smaller aircraft are the way to go, giving airlines more flexibility. Instead of serving one large market (which doesn't exist anymore) they can serve multiple smaller markets.
 
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JannEejit
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Re: Nationalisations: the return of the VLA's?

Sat May 02, 2020 10:25 am

PatrickZ80 wrote:

Therefor there won't be any return of VLA's, they've had their time. Airlines are massively retiring them at the moment, they cost too much to operate and are too hard to fill. The demand just isn't there. Smaller aircraft are the way to go, giving airlines more flexibility. Instead of serving one large market (which doesn't exist anymore) they can serve multiple smaller markets.


Yes, that is the current (pre Covid-19) model, but what if frequency is no longer an option or at least becomes difficult to muster approval, in response to both current crisis and global environmental concerns ?
 
StTim
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Re: Nationalisations: the return of the VLA's?

Sat May 02, 2020 10:38 am

This feels like a desperate desire to make a market for the 777X which is disappearing daily.
 
MIflyer12
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Re: Nationalisations: the return of the VLA's?

Sat May 02, 2020 12:59 pm

JannEejit wrote:
PatrickZ80 wrote:

Therefor there won't be any return of VLA's, they've had their time. Airlines are massively retiring them at the moment, they cost too much to operate and are too hard to fill. The demand just isn't there. Smaller aircraft are the way to go, giving airlines more flexibility. Instead of serving one large market (which doesn't exist anymore) they can serve multiple smaller markets.


Yes, that is the current (pre Covid-19) model, but what if frequency is no longer an option or at least becomes difficult to muster approva...and global environmental concerns ?


Western governments are not going to specify frequency and aircraft types. Stalin isn't running the U.S. Department of Transportation.
 
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JannEejit
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Re: Nationalisations: the return of the VLA's?

Sat May 02, 2020 1:16 pm

MIflyer12 wrote:
JannEejit wrote:
PatrickZ80 wrote:

Therefor there won't be any return of VLA's, they've had their time. Airlines are massively retiring them at the moment, they cost too much to operate and are too hard to fill. The demand just isn't there. Smaller aircraft are the way to go, giving airlines more flexibility. Instead of serving one large market (which doesn't exist anymore) they can serve multiple smaller markets.


Yes, that is the current (pre Covid-19) model, but what if frequency is no longer an option or at least becomes difficult to muster approva...and global environmental concerns ?


Western governments are not going to specify frequency and aircraft types. Stalin isn't running the U.S. Department of Transportation.


My previous post mentions neither governments or deceased former Soviet leaders as a potential reason for serving up capacity over frequency. Simply asserting that airlines won't be told what to do is not a valid reason for ignoring the possibility of decreased frequency in the short, medium or longer term as a result of current and ongoing issues facing airlines. How will certain airlines maintain frequency when they are making thousands of their pilots redundant and mass retiring sections of their fleets ?
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: Nationalisations: the return of the VLA's?

Sat May 02, 2020 1:26 pm

JannEejit wrote:
How will certain airlines maintain frequency when they are making thousands of their pilots redundant and mass retiring sections of their fleets ?


Indeed those pilots are being laid off..... for now. After the crisis they'll just be hired again, but in the meanwhile it saves the airlines a few months of having to pay wages. That's the whole point of it.

If you cared to pay attention to which sections of the fleets are being retired, those are exactly the VLA's. The aircraft that have become too big for the routes they serve. Airlines will mostly continue these routes with smaller aircraft that are better suited for the limited demand. Those smaller aircraft might be temporarily parked, but no airline is retiring them at this moment because they know they'll need them after the crisis.
 
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JannEejit
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Re: Nationalisations: the return of the VLA's?

Sat May 02, 2020 1:57 pm

PatrickZ80 wrote:
JannEejit wrote:
How will certain airlines maintain frequency when they are making thousands of their pilots redundant and mass retiring sections of their fleets ?


Indeed those pilots are being laid off..... for now. After the crisis they'll just be hired again, but in the meanwhile it saves the airlines a few months of having to pay wages. That's the whole point of it.

If you cared to pay attention to which sections of the fleets are being retired, those are exactly the VLA's. The aircraft that have become too big for the routes they serve. Airlines will mostly continue these routes with smaller aircraft that are better suited for the limited demand. Those smaller aircraft might be temporarily parked, but no airline is retiring them at this moment because they know they'll need them after the crisis.


The 'already retired' aircraft may not all be VLA's but they are retirements never the less and therefore eat into any airlines ability to maintain highest level frequency. Pilots may be getting furloughed but they are also being fired, see BA and Ryanair for recent examples. We read threads on a.net about airlines wishing to come out of Covid-19 as much smaller operations, so how can 2019 frequency levels be maintained on that basis ?

We can also look at the growing environmental lobby and public opinion shift (yes it really is out there) in terms of pressure to reduce overall flight capacity, or send regional/other routes onto trains instead. I think to dismiss the notion of reduced airline route frequency within the outcome of the current situation(s) may be a little ill considered ?
 
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Phosphorus
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Re: Nationalisations: the return of the VLA's?

Sat May 02, 2020 4:45 pm

If you hypothesize on the world, in which VLA's rule, basically you need to arrive at a situation, where frequency is no longer a requirement.

One such option is a world with very high quarantine barriers. Imagine, if all arriving international passengers need to spend days in confinement, before being released into their destination country.
This would make it pointless to have multiple daily flights. Even less-than-dailies would become feasible.
This could also mean higher demand for avoiding connections, and ULR would become more interesting again. A380 is a ULR bird, in addition to being VLA, AFAIR.
AN4 A40 L4T TU3 TU5 IL6 ILW I93 F50 F70 100 146 ARJ AT7 DH4 L10 CRJ ERJ E90 E95 DC-9 MD-8X YK4 YK2 SF3 S20 319 320 321 332 333 343 346 722 732 733 734 735 73G 738 739 744 74M 757 767 777
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PatrickZ80
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Re: Nationalisations: the return of the VLA's?

Sat May 02, 2020 7:04 pm

Phosphorus wrote:
This could also mean higher demand for avoiding connections, and ULR would become more interesting again. A380 is a ULR bird, in addition to being VLA, AFAIR.


It's true that the A380 is an ultra long haul bird, but it's not the only one. There are other smaller aircraft that can fly more or less the same distance and cost less to operate.

If people are avoiding connections, this means less connecting passengers to fill the plane with. As such, you don't need a big plane. A smaller plane would make more sense.

The A380 might have the lowest cost per seat, but only if all seats are full. And that simply can't be done with O/D alone. You need connecting passengers to fill the surplus of seats. But that's just the problem, there are no connecting passengers. So if those seats are going empty anyway, you might as well not put them in the plane.
 
johns624
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Re: Nationalisations: the return of the VLA's?

Sat May 02, 2020 7:21 pm

The OP bounces all around. One minute he's talking about "competitiveness" being important and the next he's saying that "profitability" isn't . They kind of work together. Then he talks about airlines being smaller, maybe in the last 2 months, but that's it. There are many more options to get from place to place than there were in the days of national airlines. Remember when you had to fly Pan Am or TWA to get to most international destinations from the US?
 
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Phosphorus
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Re: Nationalisations: the return of the VLA's?

Sat May 02, 2020 7:45 pm

PatrickZ80 wrote:
Phosphorus wrote:
This could also mean higher demand for avoiding connections, and ULR would become more interesting again. A380 is a ULR bird, in addition to being VLA, AFAIR.


It's true that the A380 is an ultra long haul bird, but it's not the only one. There are other smaller aircraft that can fly more or less the same distance and cost less to operate.

If people are avoiding connections, this means less connecting passengers to fill the plane with. As such, you don't need a big plane. A smaller plane would make more sense.

The A380 might have the lowest cost per seat, but only if all seats are full. And that simply can't be done with O/D alone. You need connecting passengers to fill the surplus of seats. But that's just the problem, there are no connecting passengers. So if those seats are going empty anyway, you might as well not put them in the plane.


True, subject to travel patterns remaining what they are today. To bring it closer to OP's conditions, we go to Level 2.0 in our virtual world. The quarantine is strict and long AND there are not too many places that are equipped to handle it.

I.e. P2P dies as well; we go to "international gateway" system. You get (somehow) to your country's departure airport and fly to the destination country gateway airport, to spend some days in quarantine, before being allowed to move about.
This would consolidate international flows into fewer "trunk" routes to key gateway destinations.
On the flip side, the countries/blocs with large unrestricted internal air passengers flows would see their domestic traffic boom and airlines prosper, compared to abysmal international scene. And with restrictions of "international" segment -- with crews probably also needing health checks and quarantine after international segments -- this world could see a physical and legal separation between "domestic airlines" and "international airlines". Pan Am 2.0 time -- "all the world is open to us, except our own country"?
AN4 A40 L4T TU3 TU5 IL6 ILW I93 F50 F70 100 146 ARJ AT7 DH4 L10 CRJ ERJ E90 E95 DC-9 MD-8X YK4 YK2 SF3 S20 319 320 321 332 333 343 346 722 732 733 734 735 73G 738 739 744 74M 757 767 777
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aemoreira1981
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Re: Nationalisations: the return of the VLA's?

Sun May 03, 2020 2:26 am

I honestly do not see the VLA returning. Instead, I see right-sizing back to mid-sized wide-bodies or even longer-range narrow-bodies. On this, the Airbus A321neo (series), Airbus A330 and A350XWB, and Boeing 787 will reign supreme. To this end, as an example, TP plans to down-size LIS-EWR and LIS-LAD from the A330neo to the A321neo. As for the determination of narrow-or wide-bodies on a route less than 3500 nmi, I see it as dependent on a few factors:

1. How much cargo is moved? (An example is CPH-EWR, 3370 nmi; SAS aircraft typically carry full belly cargo loads.) By contrast, an airline relying on transit is more likely to use a narrow-body if it can be reasonably dispatched.
2. What is premium demand like? (An example is LHR-JFK or EWR, which is a premium heavy line. BA uses at least mid-J B77Ws or high-J B744s, while UA uses high-J B763s with 46 J seats and less than 100 Y seats.)
3. What is O&D like? Here, I use Japan as an example, where wide-bodies are typically functioning as commuter planes where a train would not be as quick. A narrow-body plane would not suffice. A similar route might be CDG-BEY, where ME operates the A332.
4. Is one end, or are both ends, of the route hot-and-high? An example would be a route like ADD-JNB, where both ends are hot and high (ADD is 7630 feet AMSL and JNB is 5600 feet AMSL). One could not reasonably expect a narrow-body currently offered (besides the discontinued Boeing 757) to fly on that 2200 nmi route either way without a significant payload hit (the A321neo with higher-thrust P&W engines might be able to though). For that, one would use the Boeing 787, Airbus A330, or Airbus A350 XWB.

But at the same time, you have to be able to fill the plane easier, and 250-300 seats is the real sweet spot (but if a smaller plane can do the job, the better).

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