A Turn Of Leadership: Small Airplane Models Guiding The Post-Pandemic Return Of Flights 

March 11, 2021

Screenshot 2021 03 10 at 15.43.25It is now a widely known fact that most industries have been drastically impacted by the rise of this pandemic. Airline companies have been challenged particularly as the demand for travel decreases and restrictions of mass gatherings call for creative solutions. The Brazilian airplane fabricator Embraer recently revealed that models with 70-140 seats have been taking the lead as aerial operations return to life, showcasing how a reduction in size best suits current societal constraints. 

What is to be expected? A surprising shift in our perceived notion of success! No longer viewing large enterprises with 800+ passenger seat capacity as the leaders, but rather giving space for smaller companies to shine, and consequently trigger a domino-like effect for overall industrial adjustment. 

According to analytical data collected by Cirium, 30-150 seat airlines have been in more prominent use than bigger jets, as these are composed of an ideal size for a period of demand reduction, offering the right capacity and flight frequency in order to maximize loading factors and final contribution. This clever adoption has allowed airline companies to maintain their services present within their planned network. 

Here are the exact shared statistics:

  • 35% of global commercial fleet was active during the worst weeks of the pandemic
  • On May 19th, 2020, 41% of global feet was in flight, displaying a minor increase in the industry
  • The fleet of 70-150 seat jets currently has the highest global rank, settling at 45%, while larger narrowbodies crafts such as 737 stand at 38%. 

As several countries still pose border restrictions, the demand for domestic flights has lately been higher than international ones, further supporting the use of lower capacity crafts. 

To exemplify a shift in worldwide leading airlines, Lufthansa has predicted the company to return to attention as a much smaller business. They have decreased their fleet amount by roughly a tenth, meeting their budget alternative competitor, GermanWings, at a matching level. The company has chosen to receive government aid in hopes to resurface by the end of 2021, as vaccination is under a closer development. Coming up with the ReNew reconstruction initiative, Lufthansa is looking at ‘’a unique opportunity… to come out as a more leaner company,’’ mentions Spohr, ‘’we took four-engine aircraft out, we grounded the A380 fleet, we took the A340-600 out and we don’t plan to bring them back. So that is a significant fleet modernisation happening by the fact that we are now a smaller airline, and just by the nature of it, we are modernising our fleet faster.’’ 

Lufthansa has faced the letting go of ‘’every fifth staff member,’’ seeing 29,000 thousand workers leave the pre-pandemic team. ‘’There will be more people who will leave, but it has to be done to adjust for the new normal and to survive the crisis,’’ Spohr affirms.

Though there is still a long way in the restoration of the commercial flying industry, adopting the right size of airplanes plays a key role in an efficient recovery. Embraer offers several models of E-Jets, or low passenger capacity ranges; they state confidently that no orders have been cancelled. An estimated total of 1.584 E-Jet airplanes have already been delivered. 


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Julia Arguello Busch

Julia is originally from Brazil and is fluent in English, German, Portuguese and Spanish. She is a journalist and professional music producer.

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