The Ingenious Way for Airlines to Weather the Storm
When the Covid-19 crisis hit last year, the grounding of airline fleets across the world struck the aviation industry to its core. But in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.
The global roll-out of Covid-19 vaccination programmes has offered hope that the world will soon start flying again, but while domestic and short-haul trips are likely to reach pre-pandemic levels first, long-haul travel may take a little longer to recover.
Boom in cargo demand
Little wonder, then, that airlines are exploring opportunities created by the crisis and, with Airbus’ help, using their own ingenuity to take advantage of the boom in freight demand.
Now, more than ever, operators are analysing how to optimise their current and future widebody fleets to maximise operational efficiency by carrying more cargo as the world emerges from the pandemic crisis.
Foremost in the airlines’ minds is their widebody fleet’s versatility, reliability and sustainability as they look to get through the crisis and thrive well beyond. And Airbus has been working hand-in-hand with its customers to ensure airlines can maximise the use of their widebody fleets throughout the crisis.
“Operators have been working hard to optimise their widebody fleets in these difficult times with the full support of Airbus’ customer services and engineering teams to adapt and certify the cabin decks for cargo operation,” explains Francois Obe, Head of Widebody Marketing Development. “We proudly saw the A350-1000s quickly put to use in repatriation and cargo flights, leading to the opening of 24 new routes for the A350 in a single month last year alone.”
Much-needed air bridges were also quickly established, transporting everything from medical supplies to high-technology products. IAG Cargo, the cargo-handling division of IAG (owner of Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, Vueling and LEVEL), performed nearly 150 cargo-only flights between April and August 2020 using the A350-1000, benefiting from its impressive cargo capacity and outstanding operational reliability of 99.5%.
“We proudly saw the A350-1000s quickly put to use in repatriation and cargo flights leading to the opening of 24 new routes with the A350 in a single month in 2020 alone.”Francois Obe, Head of Widebody Marketing Development at Airbus
Speed through design
The A350 Family proved to be the fastest widebody to recover from the initial Covid worldwide aviation downturn, with a fleet utilisation that exceeded 80% in September 2020; the A350-1000 performed even better and soon had a global fleet-use back to 100%.
“The A350’s outstanding efficiency can be directly attributed to its clean-sheet design,” says Francois. “Using innovative structural engineering and lighter, advanced materials, the A350-1000‘s Operating Weight Empty (OWE) is 20 tonnes lighter than its closest competitor it replaces.
“This, combined with unique, cutting-edge aerodynamics and the world’s most efficient large aero-engine from Rolls-Royce, brings an aircraft that delivers an immediate 25% lower fuel-burn while simultaneously reducing operators’ CO2 footprint.”
Unmatched Trent XWB engines accomplished by smart collaboration
The Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine is the result of a very close collaboration between Airbus and Rolls-Royce engineers. Following the A350’s clean-sheet design, the resulting Trent XWB uses the best technology and materials to deliver the world’s most efficient large aero engine flying today, with unequalled on-wing reliability. Just like the airframe, the Trent XWB-97 incorporates advanced materials with coatings having the highest operating temperatures and the most advanced cooling systems ever designed in a Rolls-Royce civil engine.
With a true inter-continental range of up to 8,700 nautical miles, the A350-1000 can fly almost anywhere on earth. Having unlimited ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operations Performance Standards) capability, it can take the most direct routing whilst reducing fuel burn. For these reasons, the A350-1000 was chosen to operate even farther long-haul routes with Qatar Airways, such as Doha to Los Angeles, and also to fly Cathay Pacific’s longest route to date, from Hong Kong to Washington DC.
The A350 leverages all the benefits of a clean-sheet design, to help widebody operators make a fresh start towards a more sustainable future. The A350-1000 is lighter, quieter, and delivers the lowest fuel burn and CO2 per seat of any aircraft in its category.
Airbus Malaysia Identifies Efficiency and Sustainability as Keys to Aerospace Industry post-COVID
Efficiency and sustainability are key as the aerospace industry focuses on recovery beyond the current COVID world.
This was the consensus of panelists speaking on “Restarting aviation in a post-COVID world” at the Airbus Malaysia Connect Webinar. The one-day high level virtual event, organised by Airbus in Malaysia, discussed the evolving aerospace market in the country.
The first session looked into the forecasted economic recovery and the potential impacts in Asia and around the world, with the roll-out of various national vaccination programmes. Panelists also exchanged views on the implementation of vaccination passports.
Anand Stanley, President Airbus Asia-Pacific, Airbus, rounded off the panel stating that Airbus’ focus now is to help airlines recover and find solutions including keeping trust in air travel.
In the session on “Strengthening Malaysia’s aerospace sector”, Airbus, CTRM and Aerospace Malaysia Innovation Centre shared their significant contributions to the Malaysian aerospace supply chain. The consensus is that the local aerospace industry needs to be prepared for the imminent rebound.
On the outlook for the helicopter industry, it was noted to be stronger than expected in spite of the pandemic. The panelists looked into viability of drones for the market and active operations, as well as future growth opportunities for rotorcraft.
Malaysia hopes to capitalise on the space economy and that the space sector could contribute 0.3% GDP and create 500 highly skilled workers by 2030. The session also touched on the importance of space science and the need for investment in Space in the country. The growth of Space technology is seen as promising for Malaysia with opportunities to promote home-grown companies in Space technologies.
In discussing the fine balance between assets, economics and national defence, there was a consensus amongst the panelists on the importance of streamlining assets, developing autonomy and self-reliance through the strengthening of Malaysia’s local industries via industrial collaboration programmes. This would help them move up the value chain from traditional defence outsourced activities, to integration and system of systems.
In the final session on “Pioneering a sustainable future for our industry”, participants learnt about various exciting ongoing sustainability initiatives in Malaysia undertaken in partnership with local organisations and institutions. It also explored initiatives such as the Airbus ZEROe programme, as well as the future sustainability of aerospace. Airbus reaffirmed its commitment to sustainability, as it actively explores the application of sustainable aviation fuel to the benefit of future generations and the aviation industry.
“We are proud to have organised the Airbus Malaysia Connect Webinar in concert with our key stakeholders in Malaysia. This event underscores Airbus’ commitment to its presence in the country, and we look forward to building further on our mutually beneficial partnerships.”Airbus Head of Country in Malaysia, Raymond Lim
“The pandemic has brought untold scale of disruption to everyone. Among all the industries impacted, aviation is one of the worst hit. We hope this Webinar demonstrated our confidence that aviation never stays down and defensive for long. Aviation will come back even stronger and in an even more creative and innovative way.”