No fleet restructuring, airlines seek sustainability post-COVID world


KUALA LUMPUR – As the aviation world is getting ready for a rebound post-pandemic, demand for aircraft purchases will largely be focused on models that are more economical to the airlines’ pocket and long-term sustainability.

Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines director general Subash Menon said the airlines are losing a lot of money and there is a huge overhang of debt that they have incurred since the start of COVID-19.

He believes major fleet restructuring would likely not going to take place by any airline operator, as to make new orders or undertake a refleet exercise requires a lot of investment where they would have a lot of debt to repay for the first couple of years.

“The focus airlines have been taking is really on a more economical aircraft that is cost- and fuel-efficient, given that the market has shrunk over the last 14-15 months… they are also giving eyes on the sustainability factors that help reduce their carbon footprint.

“I think the future will be in that direction – more optimal revenue optimising aircraft, as well as more climate friendly,” he said at the Airbus Malaysia Connect Webinar here today.

Subash was speaking during a session titled “Restarting Aviation in Post-Covid World”, which was moderated by Airbus Malaysia head of country Raymond Lim.

Another speaker, Airbus Asia-Pacific president Anand Stanley said aircraft manufacturers’ focus is more towards recovery rather growth in demand.

He expects recovery would start from the domestic market, followed by the long-haul.

Similarly, he said the few aircraft that are flying today are mostly new and efficient aircraft as airlines finding it to be more cost-efficient and more sustainably efficient, which is better for their operations.

When looking for new aircraft, the A350 and neo-family models such as A330neo and A320neo are being preferred by airlines, mainly due to their efficiencies, he said, citing the newer-generation aircraft such A321XLR would be the perfect choice for a post-COVID world.

“We feel efficiency is the name of the game and here is where the A330 neo and A350neo will come back and we will start to see half of the recovery that the orders will come back also.

“Our focus now is not orders but on working with the customers, helping them with solutions – help the recovery as soon as possible,” he added.