Post-COVID Fleet Utilization Recovery Not As Expected
May 19, 2022
The recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has begun in earnest. Overall, commercial utilization in April 2022 is significantly higher when compared to a year ago. But with new risks like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, numbers are still lower compared to April 2019. Take a look at some of the challenges hindering recovery in North America, Europe and China.
In the U.S., the ramifications of an industry-wide shortage of commercial airline pilots are playing out, and the country’s regional carriers find themselves first on the chopping block for capacity and route reductions. The U.S. pilot shortage predated the COVID-19 pandemic but has been exacerbated by the roughly 6,000 early retirements at major carriers (and 10,000 across the industry) that have occurred as a result.
General signs are pointing towards a reasonably healthy summer for European operators as summer approaches. But headwinds on that growth are expected with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The country’s complex regulations and requirements for both crew and passengers will mean airlines are more cautious about resuming services to the country than they otherwise would have been, according to IATA Director General Willie Walsh.
Meanwhile, maintenance, repair and overhaul specialists benefit from full shops and brisk sales. After a collapse that mirrored the global airline passenger activity decline that approached 100% in mid-2019 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the aftermarket has been rolling. Depending on the market, airlines are either ramping up activity to meet current demand or preparing their fleets for an anticipated summer-season breakthrough as pandemic-related headwinds subside.