Issue No. 794

Leased Lightning

Pushing Back: Inside This Issue

On Wednesday, Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving, close to 1.1m Americans took to the skies. And in one respect, that marked a sign of progress for the U.S. airline industry: It was its busiest day since mid-March. But in other respects, last week’s traffic bump only reinforced the gravity of the Covid catastrophe: During last year’s Thanksgiving peak, more than double that number of passengers flew. Extending beyond the immediate concerns of airlines, furthermore, was the risk of mass travel making America’s current public health emergency even worse. It’s an invisible tragedy to many, happening behind the closed doors of hospital wards. But it’s a tragedy all the same, and a tragedy with escalating rates of death and suffering. Officials fear the supply of hospital beds and health care workers might soon prove insufficient.

The autumn Covid spike is no less severe throughout Europe, though lockdowns there have case counts now declining in many countries. In East Asia, meanwhile, though still in much better shape, new cases in Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong underscore the difficulties of containing a virus from which many victims don’t feel any symptoms.

It’s almost the end of Q3 earnings season, which proved less bloody than Q2. But that’s about as comforting as saying Word War I was less bloody than World War II. IATA, for one, thinks the bleeding can ease in 2021, if governments adopt its plea to replace quarantines with testing. Help from vaccines will come later in the year. Not a moment too soon.


“And whilst the recovery will be prolonged, all of our shareholders remain very bullish on the long-term prospects of Hong Kong and GBA (Greater Bay Area) and a strong aviation hub.”

Cathay Pacific CFO Martin Murray


July-September 2020 (3 Months)

  • AirAsia: -$258m/-$312m*; -165%
  • Avianca: -$284m/-$271m*; -95%
  • El Al: -$147m; -277%
  • Aegean: -$33m; -22%

*Net result in USD/*Net result excluding special items/ Operating margin

Weekly Skies

AirAsia’s core airline business, setting aside the firm’s growing portfolio of non-airline digital businesses, reported a negative 165% operating margin for the third quarter, excluding a host of one-off charges associated with hedges, depreciation, and so on. Note that Q3…


Singapore Airlines has a big decision to make. As India’s Economic Times reports, the airline is talking to its Indian joint venture partner Tata about making a joint bid for state-owned Air India. Does it really want to spend scarce…


Alaska Airlines cemented its commitment to Boeing aircraft by selling 10 of its A320s. The buyer was Air Lease Corp. (see Feature interview below), which will also lease 13 B737 MAX 9s to Alaska. These MAXs will start joining the…

State of the Unions

Delta and its pilots reached a deal that will avert 1,700 furloughs the airline said were necessary. By the deal, the airline will guarantee no pilots will be furloughed until Jan. 1, 2022, but pilots took a reduction in hours…

Covid Crisis 2020

IATA’s annual meeting, which was supposed to be held in Amsterdam in June, was instead held virtually last week. The group’s most important message and mission: Convince governments to accept testing as an alternative to quarantines. “The biggest factors impeding…

Landing Strip

Ranked by seats scheduled for next quarter (Q1, 2021)Note that schedules currently volatile, highly subject to change on short noticeWorldwide, seat capacity for next quarter is down 20% versus the same quarter two years earlier

Feature Story

There’s a lot of talk about the pandemic’s repercussions, but few opinions carry as much weight as those of Air Lease Corporation Executive Chairman Steven Udvar-Hazy — the man credited with creating the aircraft leasing industry.

Around the World

A look at the world’s airlines, including end-of-week equity prices.