The coronavirus outbreak has led to airlines around the world suspending their services to China for the next few months. In the midst of these cancelations, one thing we’ve been wondering about is what the airlines will do with all of these aircraft that would normally be flying. We don’t have any firm answers yet. However, for airlines still dealing with the Boeing 787 Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 issue, the coronavirus may be helpful.
We’ve already discussed how the Trent 1000 issue has led to some good business for wet lease operators such as Hi Fly and Air Belgium. So how would the coronavirus outbreak affect the Trent 1000 issue?
787 flights to China suspended
It’s not just 787 flights to China being suspended. However, some airlines suspending their services would have normally flown their Boeing 787 aircraft. Here are some examples:
- Air New Zealand’s Auckland to Shanghai Dreamliner service will be suspended.
- British Airways would normally fly the 787-9 to Beijing and Shanghai.
- LOT Polish Airlines uses the Dreamliner to fly to Beijing from both Tallinn and Warsaw.
- Virgin Atlantic Airways, won’t be operating its daily flight to Shanghai on a 787-9.
Some airlines say that they are using this situation as an opportunity to do some preventative maintenance. Others say they will deploy the aircraft on other routes. And some may just park the jets.
The airlines mentioned above operate Boeing 787s with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. This engine has had issues with its fan blades and has led to many groundings and schedule changes for airlines.
“We sincerely regret the operational impact to our customers and we are working closely with them to minimise this. We deeply appreciate their continued support,” -Chris Cholerton, President of Civil Aerospace at Rolls-Royce
However, with the coronavirus leading to the suspension of many of these 787 services, could there be a small upside for some of these airlines?
Reallocating jets isn’t easy
As mentioned above, this may provide an opportunity to carry out more extensive maintenance for certain aircraft. At the same time, it relieves pressure off an airline’s fleet as a whole. For any airlines that have yet to follow through on the recent EASA Directive, this would be a good opportunity for them to swap their Trent 1000 engines around the fleet as ordered.
One thing is certain, however: Reallocating jets on such short notice is difficult as many things have already been planned out. This includes flight and maintenance schedules for aircraft, as well as working hours for staff and crew. Flights need sufficient time to be marketed – and for travelers to book tickets, slots need to be acquired at airports. While a flight can be canceled minutes before its scheduled departure, they can’t materialize in the same short amount of time (unless you’re talking about a rescue flight).
Perhaps one possibility is something similar to what Qatar Airways once did for Air Canada and Royal Air Maroc. Both airlines entered a wet-lease agreement with Qatar Airways during the summer 2019 travel season. Of course, this is purely speculation as it is unknown how many legacy carriers (other than Qatar) are even open to the idea of leasing out their aircraft (wet or dry).
We’ll just have to wait and see if there are any creative solutions that will make use of all the additional seat capacity created by the coronavirus.
What would you like to see airlines do with their unused aircraft? Let us know in the comments!