Aircraft order books stabilise but recovery prospects remain bumpy

Aircraft order books have stabilised but recovery prospects for the industry remain fragile as borders stay shut due to the pandemic.

April saw the overall order backlog of commercial aircraft begin to stabilise as customers placed 73 new orders, of which 68 were single aisle aircraft and five for widebodies, according to new industry figures.

The backlog is now 1,000 aircraft below the level of April 2020, when the Covid-19 crisis had a severe impact on international demand for aviation, new aircraft, and repair and maintenance.

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UK flight volumes towards the end of May were more than 75 per cent below pre-crisis levels, and volumes across Europe were around 60 per cent lower compared to 2019 figures.

The industry has seen continued suppressed demand for aircraft due to the pandemic and international travel restrictions. Picture: John Devlin

In the US, traveller numbers recorded at airports in recent days stand at 25 per cent to 30 per cent below 2019, driven by domestic travel.

Kevin Craven, chief executive of UK trade organisation ADS, said: “As vaccination programmes advance, the global aviation industry is seeing domestic routes in major markets recover more quickly, while tentative steps are being taken to restore international travel.

“Demand remains severely suppressed compared to pre-crisis levels, and the situation continues to be extremely challenging for aerospace manufacturers in the UK and overseas. It will be a long road to recovery, and expectations for the months ahead should be cautious until more major travel routes are fully reopened.

“We urge the government to make progress in the coming weeks on adding key destinations to the UK’s green list for travel, cutting the cost of testing for passengers, and creating a clear pathway for internationally recognised Covid certification.”

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