How Will The Single-Aisle Market Be Affected By The COVID-19 Crisis?

airbus a321xlr
Credit: Fixion/Airbus

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Will the single-aisle aircraft market be less affected than the widebody market by the COVID-19 crisis?

Aviation Week Executive Editor, Commercial Jens Flottau responds: 

The single-aisle market will be severely affected but less so than widebodies. The recovery of air travel will come in phases, and conventional wisdom is that it will begin with domestic flights, followed by regional international services. Both of those are predominantly operated by narrowbody aircraft. 

Given government restrictions on travel, long-haul markets will be the last to reopen. Even before the novel coronavirus crisis, demand for new widebodies had significantly softened as new long-haul narrowbodies such as the Airbus A321XLR ate into the market.

Low fuel prices make it attractive for airlines to extend leases for existing widebodies, such as Cathay Pacific’s Boeing 777-300ER extensions, which are now threatening a 777X order. And in the near term, few airlines will be in a position to finance orders of costly large aircraft and take the commercial risk of operating them.  

Narrowbody aircraft capable of long-haul flying will be the ideal platforms to reenter intercontinental markets, as they cost much less and pose lower financial risk.

Jens Flottau

Based in Frankfurt, Germany, Jens is executive editor and leads Aviation Week Network’s global team of journalists covering commercial aviation.


1 Comment
I hear that Easyjet want to operate their single aisle aircraft with the middle seat unoccupied. This means a 66% load factor is the maximum - not good for a low cost airline! Also the passenger lateral separation is about one metre rather than the two metres that governments recommend. My guess is that Easyjet will say that 1 metre separation is adequate combined with compulsory face masks. Otherwise they can't operate with narrow body aircraft.