IATA projects $9.7 billion industry loss for 2022
June 21, 2022
The global airline industry's collective loss will shrink to around $9.7 billion this year, IATA predicts. This represents a significant improvement on the $11.6 billion loss the association projected in its October 2021 forecast.
Speaking during IATA's ongoing AGM in Doha, director general Willie Walsh highlighted that the new forecast put the industry on track to regain profitability next year, backed up by continuing strong demand for air travel, and despite operational issues. In comparison, carriers lost $42.1 billion last year and some $138 billion in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic hammered demand and revenues. "I think we have got to realise that we are still rebuilding," Walsh said in response to a question on whether the recovery could continue to build into the end of the year. "The evidence suggests we still have a disconnect between supply and demand into the fourth quarter and potentially the first quarter as airlines and airports rebuild for the strong recovery that we are seeing." He adds that improved profitability is forecast despite massive increases in the price of fuel, which represents the largest single cost that airlines bear. Airlines will consume $192 billion-worth of fuel this year, IATA estimates, representing 24% of their costs, up from 19% in 2021. "I think [the positive outlook] reflects not just strong demand but expected demand development, so we don't have any concerns about the demand environment or supply environment," says Walsh. Backing up the rosy picture, IATA highlights that several sections of the industry have already returned to profitability. The US market, for example, is projected to deliver an $8.8 billion result this year, for example. One result of the rapid bounceback in demand is that delays and cancellations have become a common feature across the world, with 69% of arrivals in Europe this year, for example, having experienced some form of delay. But these issues were described as "business as usual", by Walsh, who argues that they are "insignificant" compared with the challenge of surviving through the pandemic. Likewise. JetBlue Airways chief executive Robin Hayes, the outgoing chair of IATA's board of governors, notes that staff are returning to the industry rapidly now that there is more certainty around pandemic-era restrictions. He believes that significant pent-up demand remains in the system because of capacity limitations this summer, as well as a rapid bounceback in business travel that is further behind leisure demand. Overall, IATA's latest forecast is for passenger demand to return to 83% of 2019 levels this year, while revenues will hit $782 billion, or 93% of pre-pandemic. Walsh highlights that despite widespread economic problems, global growth is still forecast at around 3.4%, which should support passenger demand and ensure a wider return to profitability next year: "Everything we look at points to a positive outlook for the industry."

US court approves LATAM's reorganisation plan
June 21, 2022
The US bankruptcy court for the Southern District of New York has approved LATAM Airlines Group's Chapter 11 reorganisation plan. The group says the plan, which was backed by almost all of its creditors, is the result of months of negotiations among major stakeholders. This included an extensive mediation period. "We are very satisfied with the judge's confirmation of our restructuring plan," states LATAM chief executive Roberto Alvo. "This is a very important step in the process to emerge from Chapter 11, and we will continue working hard to complete the remaining steps in the coming months". LATAM is now focused on implementation of the corporate actions necessary to complete its exit from the Chapter 11 process during 2022's second half. This includes approval at an extraordinary shareholders' meeting of the new capital structure contemplated in the plan, the registration of shares and bonds in the securities registry of Chile's financial market commission the CMF, and the implementation of the respective preferential offering periods of the convertible shares and bonds in favour of LATAM's current shareholders. Once effective, the LATAM plan will inject around $8 billion through the combination of a capital increase, the issuance of convertible bonds, and new debt. This includes $5.4 billion of financing backed by major shareholders Delta Air Lines, Qatar Airways and Grupo Cueto and LATAM's major creditors, including the Parent Ad Hoc Group creditors and certain local bondholders.

Boeing has no plans for more 737 variants
June 20, 2022
Boeing does not have plans to develop any new variants of the 737 after the current Max generation, commercial chief executive Stan Deal has confirmed. "We’ve got five family members, I think that’s it," he told an audience at the UK Aviation Club on 16 June. The Boeing executive says that the US airframer is now focused on developing the next set of aircraft programmes for the industry. But Deal says he believes the longevity of the Max will be "quite long" with the Max 7, -8, -9, -200 and -10 all offering "incremental benefits", including reduced fuel burn and noise over their predecessor, the NG. Deal says that he is fully focused on the certification of the Max 7 and -10 along with gaining regulatory approval for an enhanced gross weight version of the 787, and the in-development 777X programme. As such the US manufacturer is concentrating on existing product lines rather than looking at developing a new regional aircraft, Deal says. Discussing the issues around the 787 programme, Deal says Boeing is focused on a "tip to tail" recertification process with the US Federal Aviation Administration and adds: "We are going to take the time to get this right." He says the US OEM's own internal investigation found found technical "non-conformance" issues - where the blueprint verses the build "was off" by very minute tolerances of 5000s of an inch. Deal believes the freighter market is in rude health. He says air cargo revenues are up 95% on 2019 levels despite an 8% increase in freight capacity. He believes that there will be four engine aircraft flying around for "another 50 years". He notes that the 747 freighter and its nose loading capability is unique in the market. Deal notes that Boeing's 777-200 freighter is sold out, the 767 conversion programme is almost out of feedstock and there still remains a lot of demand from customers such as UPS and Fedex for dedicated freighters. "I wish I could take rates up even higher on freighters because the demand is there." Sales of converted 737-800 freighters have "skyrocketed" and the abundance of third party conversion programs across the world is a sign of global demand for aircraft, Deal notes. He says that the conversion of the 737NGs is allowing their value to be retained. He believes that the 777F will be the natural replacement for the 747 and will become a "flagship" thanks to customer orders from major carriers including British Airways, Qatar Airways, All Nippon Airways and Cathay Pacific. "As the world re-emerges, there will be that need for a flagship airplane, the 777 is well-positioned for it," he comments.


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