Decline in Short Term Aircraft Maintenance

The COVID-19 virus pandemic is directly affecting maintenance since no flights means no wear and tear

Although companies that provide aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul are facing a major drop in demand, some are still working and even introducing new products or services, such as the aircraft disinfection service. 

While accurately predicting what the MRO market will look like due to the COVID-19 pandemic even by the end of this year is tricky, several scenarios hint at how it may play out.  After falling precipitously, airline travel may recover slowly rather than with a quick V shaped spike.  On top of that, not all aircraft and engines will return, and those that due, may not be operating at 2018-2019 levels.
 
Without flight hours, utilization-based scheduled maintenance will decline; however, calendar-based service intervals remain for parked, but not stored fleets.  MRO dollar demand shrinks and recovers depending on how various scenarios play out.  Immediate, short-term MRO demand is expected to decline between 30-60% in 2020.  Over the next 4 years, MRO demand could shrink between $54 – $122 billion depending on how utilization is affected.

 “North America and Western Europe would suffer the largest impact,” the forecast said. “Where possible, operators are strategically selecting aircraft to be parked based on their maintenance status and will likely defer non-essential visits like cabin re-configurations and certain component upgrades. Should COVID-19 extend beyond our baseline scenario, suppressing travel further and creating more severe, long-lasting economic consequences, the impact on MRO demand could top $35 billion in 2020, with an additional $15 billion in 2021. 

Conversely, if our rapid recovery scenario is realized and the number of COVID-19 cases peak earlier than expected, the MRO impact could be as low as $17 billion, or 19 percent.”

Last month, Germany-based Lufthansa Technik reported record earnings for 2019, but Johannes Bussmann, chairman of the company’s executive board, cautioned that “the maintenance industry is already suffering from the decline in air traffic” due to COVID-19.

“The full extent will hit us with a delay, which means a forecast is currently not possible, but first impacts are massive,” he said. “Everything depends on the duration of the crisis and how our customers will recover from it. We have prepared ourselves with a very comprehensive package of measures, also, to be able to deliver at any time. Especially now, our customers need a reliable technical partner.”

Joseph Alba
Mr. Alba was previously Editor of the Airport Press for 12 years covering both local as well as global aviation news. Prior to this, Mr. Alba had Executive positions in Systems Engineering and Marketing with IBM World Trade, and had foreign assignments in the Far East and Latin America earning three Outstanding Achievement Awards. Mr. Alba also directed a new function dealing with Alternate Fuels for Public Service Electric & Gas company in New Jersey and founded a Natural Gas Vehicle Consortium consisting of car company executives and fleet owners, and NGV suppliers in New Jersey. Mr. Alba was a founding partner of ATA, an IT Consulting company which is still active in Central and South America. After leaving the armed forces, Mr. Alba’s initial employee was the U.S. Defense Department as an analyst.

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