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Rolls-Royce Engine Hour Improvement Points to Gradual Widebody Recovery

May 24, 2021

The widebody segment of the market continues to see a modest increase in demand that is allowing values of at least some widebodies to rise from the depths experienced a year ago.

Rolls-Royce indicated that the number of hours for engines powering the widebodies were some 40 percent of 2019 levels. This was attributed by Rolls-Royce as being due to freighter flights and due to the continuation of key international routes. Despite the rollout of the vaccination program, the level of activity being seen by Rolls-Royce is similar to the end of 2020. The engine manufacturer, among the most realistic of companies when the pandemic first impacted aviation, continues to underline the uncertainty as to when international travel will recover.

In terms of flights, there were 66,000 daily commercial flights as of the middle of May 2021; this compares with 58,000 daily flights in the middle of November 2020; 61,000 in the middle of July 2020 and 111,000 in the middle of May 2019. While the U.S. may be seeing large passenger volumes these relate to mostly domestic traffic as the number of international flights to and from the U.S. as of the middle of May 2021 was only 3,500 compared to the 5,500 as of May 2019. Flights to and from Europe were only 50 percent of pre-Covid levels. China has long been used as the benchmark for the recovery but international flights numbered 1,000 as of mid May 2021 versus 2,700 two years earlier; the Japanese market is struggling with 420 daily international flights recently compared to pre-Covid levels of over 2,200. Australia has seen international flights reduced to only 200 per day compared to over 700 before the catastrophe with no opening of Australian borders expected until next year.

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