Monday, March 16, 2020 Update

Briefly –

What To Expect This Week & Beyond

A Bit of Context, First

To Start… Numbers found in media and CDC sources:

The US population is 330,400,000.

As of today, it is estimated that @7,500 people in the USA are known to be infected. Figure the actual number may be a multiple of that – maybe ten times – as it is reported that most cases are not severe.

Deaths in the USA reported as of 3/16/20 are at 69

Putting this in context, 40 of these are in just one state – Washington  – and a major percentage of those occurred in one elderly-person nursing home.

Doing the math – not to minimize the danger of the virus – gives a very different perspective from the news videos of panicked people fighting over a box of Charmin at the supermarket.

Global – Not Local – Air Service Reductions

It’s not just the USA, the China virus is causing airlines across the globe to literally shut down partially or entirely.

The reason is simple – the demand is not there. Some of the reporting in the media is quite shoddy, implying that it’s all just a matter of government decision-making. It’s due to people staying home. Here and across the world.

Almost 33% of all US enplanements are driven directly and indirectly by international traffic flows, which are now essentially gone. The economic damage across the globe would indicate a very slow recovery of this sector.

A Skeleton System Is Possible

Remember, the five major network-based carriers – AA, DL, UA, WN and AS – are based on revenue systems, not individual “routes.” This means that reduced capacity at one airport or at a connecting hubsite will affect more than just the nonstop market itself.

What needs to be kept in mind is that air service at the vast majority of small to mid-size communities depends on the aggregation of traffic at these carriers’ connecting hubs. (Yes, and in many cases, that includes WN.) Reduced flights and capacity at the carriers’ connecting hubs will affect these airports first… constricting traffic flows from smaller feed markets.

Regionalization is likely – within regions, watch for consolidation of an airline’s service into fewer airports.

Hotel & Resort Closures – Flights Notwithstanding, No Place To Stay

We are seeing entire resorts in Las Vegas lock the doors, in some cases until May. That may spread across the country to entire sections of the hospitality industry. This means that discretionary travel will drop for the next six weeks. Airports with significant percentages of ULCC traffic need to take a hard look at reduced revenue streams.

Restructured Airline Fleets

Airline margins are thin. If this crisis situation continues for an extended period, it is not out of the question that a complete re-structuring of the air transportation system could be in the cards.

As one example, a lot of 50-seat jets have been living on the wave of a strong economy and very strong demand. Even with lower costs of jet-A, the rebound may leave a lot of these airplanes in the desert.

Point: a number of hub-feed markets might not be back.

BGI Clients Standby For Updates…

Boyd Group International will be monitoring events and will be in contact with our clients throughout the week as events unfold


BGI Stands Ready…-

Forecasts & Contingency Planning –
Effects of COVID-19 On Your Air Service

U.S. carriers are now making capacity cuts and fleet shifts in order to deal with the COVID-19 epidemic. International traffic was first.

Now, domestic restrictions are coming – big time.

The rapid decline in domestic bookings has route planners dissecting the financial status of every route and market.

The question is, do you and your board and community have a clear picture of what to expect? There’s a lot of blind speculation.

You need hard facts and unvarnished forecast projections, not guesses or wandering media suppostion.

Boyd Group International can help with a professional COVID-19 forecast analysis.

As the leading forecast firm in aviation, which entails ongoing and in-depth research on airline strategies and fleet trends, we have the data, expertise and industry knowledge ready now to provide you with a comprehensive COVID-19 Traffic & Trend Forecast, based on known and potential scenarios that are specific to your incumbents and the projected timelines of this epidemic.

We would strongly recommend that the effects on your air service access be fully researched and understood. Take control of the information stream with hard, factual data and projections.

Every airport has different vulnerabilities and strengths. The traffic shifts and capacity changes caused by the spread of this disease will be driven by a range of factors that are specific to the unique traffic base at each airport.

For example, your local passenger mix is a critical factor. Leisure traffic – and particularly highly-discretionary leisure traffic – will be affected differently than business travel. In many cases, corporations large and small are slashing air travel, while there are at least anecdotal indicators that some leisure sectors are not as heavily affected.

The effects on propensity to fly will be different from airport to airport. One thing we are assured of is that there will be airline capacity changes. Fleets will be shifted. Some markets capacity-reduced, others even cut completely. Airlines are losing money, and they will take drastic actions should this epidemic continue to spread. Also, even after it is over, some of the changes made could be more than temporary.

Each Airline has different fleet and market strategies. American is parking most of its wide-body airliners for the next six weeks. Delta is pulling down a reported 300 airliners. The very different passenger stratas on ULCCs will also result in different reactions to the crisis. The point is to determine where they find highest and best use of the remaining fleet.

Get A Professional Forecast – Now. The Boyd Group International team will literally dissect your current air service situation, in light of the expected and possible capacity and route determinations by each of your incumbents.

The BGI Forecast Deliverables:

Step One: Destinational Review & Consumer Segments. The current O&D patterns and revenue-generation at your airport will largely determine what changes incumbents may pursue. We will analyze your top markets, including load factors, revenue factors, hub-feed delivery, capacity, current fleet, and other dynamics.

Step Two: Vulnerabilities of Current Air Service In The New Environment. The forecast will review the key aspects of your current service in regard to strength and weaknesses within the marketing and hub-feed strategies of each incumbent carrier, in response to the effects of the epidemic. Remember, airlines are revising their entire route systems – what’s done at other airports can and will affect yours.

Step Three: Forecast Scenarios – High, Baseline and Low. Boyd Group International will prepare a 12-month forecast, based on several scenarios, including capacity changes, fleet substitutions, length and severity of the epidemic. Included are key vulnerability areas specific to your airport.

Step Four: Recommendations & Planning. The Forecast will include professional recommendations regarding outreach and liaison with incumbents, as well as outreach to the community and stakeholders. The data and the message need to be clear and understandable to all stakeholders

Time Is of The Essence. Boyd Group International understands the rapidly-evolving nature of this crisis. Because forecasting is our business, and because we’ve built extensive traffic and forecast databases, we can deliver your data quickly.

We’ll Be There As Events Evolve. In addition, this is completely new territory, so  count us on-board for the following 60 days to keep you updated with recommendations and insight as events may dictate.

Give us a call, or click here to email now to get started. There are some tough times ahead, and the more you understand, the easier it will be to bring your community on board.


Monday Update – March 16, 2020

How Do You Say “Chutzpah” In Mandarin?

This Is The Chinese Pandemic. Let’s Stop Playing Politics

Concerned about massive restrictions in air travel and business activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Concerned about the damage that’s being done to the US economy?

Keep being concerned. What started this rodeo is still alive and well and a threat.

That’s because not a single action has been taken – by any nation – to recognize, admit and prevent the foundational causes that first created the coronavirus, and of the actions that turned it into what now must – must – be called the China COVID-19 pandemic.

What happened in Wuhan, China is not water under the bridge… that river is still flowing.

A Human-Caused Epidemic. All the businesses across the world that are shutting down, all the airlines that are nearly going out of business, and all the people who have died from this pandemic are victims of a human-caused event.

Repeat: despite how some in politics and the media are painting it, this is not a “natural” catastrophe, like an earthquake or typhoon or tsunami. If we want to avoid this in the future – i.e., learn from the tragedy – one cannot ethically ignore the timeline of events and dishonest shenanigans that brought the world into a pandemic situation.

The disgusting pap that “we must work with China” to find solutions is like hiring Typhoid Mary as a health consultant.

This event is the direct result of political corruption and incompetent handling by the Chinese government. Not the Chinese people, but the thugs running the Chinese Communist Party. The facts are clear.

Delay Any Action – No, Prohibit Any Action – For Weeks. Then, Let Infected People Travel. Here’s fact-based timeline that the PRC government is trying to smokescreen with a flood of recent fictional and self-serving PR stunts to absolve it from taking full responsibility for this pandemic.

It started in Wuhan. Based on the location of the first set of victims, it was due to the filth and disgusting hygiene at a typical “wet market.” Medical authorities were aware of this virus at least by mid-December, with some reports indicating earlier.

Intentional actions were taken by the Chinese government to keep the local public in Wuhan – like, 11 million people – uninformed. The Party did not want it known that there was an epidemic. Face, and all that stuff.

• Doctors were threatened by the Chinese government and literally forced to sign “confessions” admitting that that they were spreading anti-social rumors by reporting on the virus.

• Medical evidence of the communicative nature of the virus was not only covered up by the Chinese government, but medical professionals were threatened with imprisonment if they didn’t stop discussing it.

• The Chinese government intentionally tried to mislead the public, telling them that the virus was not communicative, even to the point of holding massive shows and community meals, to “prove” there was no epidemic.

• The Chinese government, with full knowledge of the contagious nature of the virus, freely allowed millions of Wuhan residents to leave the city to travel across China and the world for the Lunar New Year migrations. That is what differentiated this epidemic from SARS and others.

• The Chinese government knowingly allowed this virus to spread for over two months, before starting – just starting – to take action.

  • The Chinese government has steadfastly kept medical professionals from other countries away… with the exception of hacks from the W.H.O.

What’s the thread here?

The Chinese government was completely complicit in allowing – and facilitating – this virus to spread and create a pandemic across the world

The W.H.O.? Okay, Guess Which Nation Is A Major Member. Now, there are the comments from the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) that China acted quickly and aggressively to respond to the first knowledge of the coronavirus, limiting the spread of the virus.

That is a lie, refuted by facts. Remember, China is a major member – a cohort – of the W.H.O.

All The Causal Factors Are Still Operative. The shocking part of all this is that the root causes of the virus – filth and poor hygiene – still exists in China’s open air markets, and the political system whose policies allowed the virus to spread also still exists.

Yes, the wet market in Wuhan where the virus is thought to have started has been closed, but the retail system of which it was a part still exists all across China. And the Party clowns who prohibited early medical action in Wuhan, and actually allowed its spread, are still in power, lavishing kudos on themselves for their bold decisions. And making as sure as they can that no real facts get on the ‘net.

China is excited to build aircraft carriers and missiles, but outside of huge new cities, its public facilities don’t generally even have soap or toilet paper.

The Timeline: They Let It Spread. Incredibly, the disgusting actions of the Chinese government – literally prohibiting medical staff to even professionally converse about the virus, let alone take actions to contain it – have gotten a walk from the rest of the world.

They will do it again – heck, they are still doing it. There’s no free press in China, and they try to scrub the internet.

Indeed, the public social events the Party put on in the days just prior to finally having to admit there was an epidemic, including giant communal meals and entertainment events, as well as staged news videos of citizens dancing around demonstrating no need for masks, chanting “No fear!” – these represent flat out criminal behavior.

Briefly put, even after dozens of reported cases, and muzzling medical professionals, the Chinese government still encouraged such communal events through January 21. Meanwhile, millions of people – many no doubt infected – continued to leave Wuhan, crowding on buses, trains and airplanes, to visit family throughout China for the New Year.

Two days later, after continually claiming there was no communicative virus, the Chinese government did a sudden U-turn and put Wuhan under quarantine – but only after millions had already left. They couldn’t hide it anymore – the virus was popping up all over China. And the world.

Even then, citizens were still being arrested and publicly shamed for discussing the virus and threatening social order.

The outbreak was smack at the start of the Lunar New Year (Spring) festival migration. But the truth remains that the Chinese government withheld information from the public, and did little to stem the travel tide.

Yes, It Is The China Epidemic. There are some in the media and some pandering US politicians that claim calling this honestly for what it is – China’s Pandemic – is xenophobic or even racist.

Apparently, they put veneer political correctness above identifying the truth, which is that it was the actions of the Chinese government that first repressed actions to contain the virus, and then allowed populations they knew to be infected to spread across China and the world.

It’s called responsibility. Again, this is not an event of nature. It is a human-caused event, and the humans responsible are the Chinese Communist Party which is the government of China.

The Chinese people are victims, just as the folks in France, Spain, Korea, the Philippines, Italy and the USA. But make no mistake, it is the thugs running the CCP that bear the responsibility and culpability.

Lie About It And Hope The World Buys It. Actually, regardless of the Mandarin translation of chutzpah, now the Chinese government is spreading rumors just as dangerous as the virus itself… that it’s the US that started the epidemic, and it’s China that is the victim.

The story is that the Party must be lauded for boldly and decisively taking heroic actions to protect the people. That, too is a blatant lie.

The Future: A Different Economic Relationship. This now strips bare the image that China had been nurturing across the globe as a nation of vibrant and emerging growth. Despite a couple of decades of apparent economic progress, this China virus event shows that at its heart, China is run by the same Party that mowed down student protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989, with zero care for human life over the Party.

Wanna talk xenophobic, politicians?

All That Travel Enthusiasm Is Vaporized. Business Investment In China, Too. Going forward, the relationship between the US and China (and between other nations and China) will be very different.

At BGI, we’ve seen a total 180. Things are fundamentally and completely different from 2016, when we were enthusiastically out-reaching to China for more tourists, and preparing China-Welcome programs for airports and communities. That entire environment is gone.

There is no going back to thousands of Americans taking vacations to visit Guilin, a boat trip up the Yangtze, or seeing Shanghai, or Xi’an. The Party has made it clear that Americans aren’t welcome. They have stirred up public sentiment that America is some evil place.

As for Chinese tourism to the USA – write it off. Not only has the Party vilified the US, but China’s balloon economy is zapping a lot of the discretionary yuan that was formerly in Chinese consumers’ pockets.

But one thing to keep in mind – every one of the major dynamics that caused the COVID-19 pandemic is still in place. And they’re all in China.

Let’s label it honestly, to perhaps prevent another pandemic.

Monday Update – March 9, 2020

Forecast Observations Regarding China’s Global Coronavirus

Semi-Positive – For Now. Year 2020 US Traffic May Still Exceed 2019

As of today our Airports:USA® forecasts are being re-structured to anticipate the downward effects of China’s CONVID-19 epidemic on air travel demand.

While there’s no doubt that bookings have taken a near-term decline, it’s difficult to forecast how long this will continue, based on the range of differing information coming from a myriad of sources regarding the depth and danger of the epidemic.

That’s the core challenge facing U.S. airlines – the public is not well informed on the epidemic, because the effects of coronavirus as they will manifest in the USA aren’t clear.

We see the social videos coming out of China – where people literally drop in the streets. We hear about 500+ deaths in Italy. The death toll in Iran.

Then we hear about older people in nursing homes in Washington state.

What’s tough to forecast are a) what segments of the consumer base are most likely to shy away from travel, b) what is the core rationale for doing so, and can that be addressed by better understanding of the epidemic as it is manifesting in the US, and c) how long will the expansion of the virus go on. This last point is the most critical.

The USA Isn’t Like China. Or Europe

One issue is that our medical system in the US is centuries ahead of that in China. Out in the provinces, beyond the flash and glare of shiny new cities, hygiene and medical support are deplorable.

And to be clear, the responsibility for this crisis lies entirely with the government of China.

For whatever political motivations, it is clear that even after the virus was known to be easily communicated between individuals, the Chinese government intentionally encouraged people to mingle in Wuhan, to “prove” there was no epidemic – all for political reasons. Then came the Lunar New Year migration of people to all parts of China and the world.  (This is covered in several posts at, by the way.)

Looking Ahead – 2020 Traffic At Or Slightly Above 2019

Based on announced and expected capacity reductions, we are forecasting a near-term decline in US traffic demand of 10% overall between March and end of May. By that time, it is logical to assume that there will be a clearer understanding of how the spread of the disease can be minimized.

Putting this projection- which at this point is very raw – in context, it would point to 2020 still being slightly ahead of 2019. The strong economy was in line to gobble up the expected increases in capacity for 2020.

In the meantime…

Cruise Ship Traffic – Free Fall. For the foreseeable future, the Love Boat is in financial drydock, perhaps as an industry.

Any US airport that has cruise ship traffic – such as FLL, MIA and MSY, would do well to assume that portion of passengers has vaporized.

With the repeated stories of infections on these cruises, that entire industry is in for a very tough future. Some media sources, reflecting on the large number of infections on several ships, has referred to them as “floating petri dishes.”

Asian Traffic. We generated airport-specific projections of traffic loss at key US-Asia gateway airports. There will be a drop in trans-Pacific demand until this epidemic is gone and mostly forgotten.

This is particularly true of China, where the government single-handedly has now destroyed its global reputation and value as a leisure destination, possibly as well as an investment venue, due to its continuing dishonest handling of the epidemic, starting with efforts to “prove” it did not exist, covering up reports, doctoring data, and lying about the spread of the virus.

European  Traffic. Uncertain. The outbreaks in Lombardy and Northern Italy will likely keep traffic down until there is demonstrative elimination of outbreaks.

Small Community Air Access. If the three major network carriers continue to cut capacity, feed connections at some of their hubs may be at a premium. In that case, low-performing feed markets from small airports may see cuts.

More Data This Week

We should have a clearer picture of airline responses later this week… we will keep our clients advised.


And Speaking of –

Bookmark It For Straight Talk Regarding CONVID-19 Effects On Aviation

For ongoing data and information on CONVID-19 developments that affect aviation in China as well as the rest of the globe, we’re routinely updating the Insights page at It is the new source of hard information on China’s air transportation system.

Historical Data. We have monthly national statistics regarding traffic by sector and region. In the future, we will be generating additional airport-specific information.

Forecast Accuracy. We’re proud to note that our Airports:China™ forecast for 2019 airport traffic was within less than half a percentage point of the number just reported by CAAC.

Independent Perspectives That Challenge “Official” Information. In the Insights section, however, we do not get anywhere near that close to political correctness.

Using a range of sources and information – not just “official” statements – some of the troubling factors in this  CONVID-19 situation are covered.

What Happens In China Affects Air Transportation In China & Elsewhere. Just about any major event in China will drive changes in air travel patterns and demand.

So, BoydGroupChina is not reticent to address and analyze these issues.

These include reviews of the initial government reticence to be up front about the virus, the threats to medical professionals to not “spread rumors” by talking about the virus, incarcerating people covering the event on social media, and embarrassing missives from the government, such as claiming that air travel is completely safe… as long as you don’t sit near an infected person. (Cannot make this up.)

We also discuss the possible lack of candor and reliability of information coming from the Chinese government regarding the actual spread of the virus. There is evidence that it is possibly still out of control, and the numbers are “managed.” Indeed, much of China is economically still shut down.

We relate these major events to shift in air capacity and service levels across the nation. The result in an insight source not found anywhere else.

Log On – We are developing this site to be the first independent source of data and information on aviation in China, and how it affects the U.S. and the rest of the globe.




Monday Update – March 9, 2020

Straight Talk Regarding CONVID-19

For ongoing data and information on CONVID-19 developments that affect aviation in China as well as the rest of the globe, we’re routinely updating the Insights page at It is the new source of hard information on China’s air transportation system.

Historical Data. We have monthly national statistics regarding traffic by sector and region. In the future, we will be generating additional airport-specific information.

Forecast Accuracy. We’re proud to note that our Airports:China™ forecast for 2019 airport traffic was within less than half a percentage point of the number just reported by CAAC.

Independent Perspectives That Challenge “Official” Information. In the Insights section, however, we do not get anywhere near that close to political correctness.

Using a range of sources and information – not just “official” statements – some of the troubling factors in this  CONVID-19 situation are covered.

What Happens In China Affects Air Transportation. Just about any major event in China will drive changes in air travel patterns and demand.

So, BoydGroupChina is not reticent to address and analyze these issue.

These include reviews of the initial government reticence to be up front about the virus, the threats to medical professionals to not “spread rumors” by talking about the virus, incarcerating people covering the event on social media, and embarrassing missives from the government, such as claiming that air travel is completely safe… as long as you don’t sit near an infected person. (Cannot make this up.)

We also discuss the possible lack of candor and reliability of information coming from the Chinese government regarding the actual spread of the virus. There is evidence that it is possibly still out of control, and the numbers are “managed.” Indeed, much of China is economically still shut down.

We relate these major events to shift in air capacity and service levels across the nation. The result in an insight source not found anywhere else.

Log On – We are developing this site to be the first independent source of data and information on aviation in China, and how it affects the U.S. and the rest of the globe.


Monday Update – March 2, 2020

Coronavirus Fallout To Reshape Global Airline Industry

Treading water, or maybe more accurately, treading air.

That’s pretty much what some international airlines are doing right now.  Passenger and cargo demand curves are heading south. A recovery in revenues is uncertain.

We hear about carriers cancelling or materially reducing flights to Korea, Japan and places in Italy. The main reason, naturally, is health concerns. Another reason is that demand for such flights is likely approaching zero. The open issues are:

1. How long this epidemic situation will last

2. The extent and time frame for a rebound

3. Which airlines across the globe won’t have the financial wherewithal to survive

Potential: A Lot of Excess Fleet Capacity. It is a hit for U.S. airlines, without question. Parking the heavy iron that operated routes to these places gets expensive. Plus, international air traffic demand is likely to be down for at least the next six months as the picture clarifies, so there are limited alternatives regarding reassignment of these resources.

Initially, it was logical to assume that some of this lift parked at U.S. carriers could be shifted to new markets in the E.U. That’s less likely now due to the outbreak of the virus in Northern Italy.

Nevertheless, the three major U.S. international carriers – American, Delta and United – all have the majority of revenues coming from domestic and North American operations.

That’s not the case with most foreign carriers. Their revenues come from international traffic, which is in the cross-hairs of this crisis.

One airline – Air Asia – is offering unlimited travel, albeit space available, through March 2, 2021 for the sum of $118, plus taxes and ancillaries. Probably there will be a lot of takers, gambling on the decline of the epidemic in the near term. But the fact is that this carrier isn’t likely basking in the financial glow of an 80%+ load factor, anymore. They probably need the revenue.

At some point, some of these airlines – particularly in Asia – may have no choice but to park airliners. At some point, which may have already been reached, they may have to ask for concessions from lessors, which will have little leeway not to comply. At some point, we may see consolidations or just shutdowns.

One thing the airline business does not have is the ability to tread financial air. In the USA, the airline industry is still isolated from the majority of this threat.

Point: Within the next three weeks, we may see a lot of rapid changes in the international airline system. Major changes.


New Report: China Air System Unprepared For The Future

This week, we are partially unveiling the restructuring of a new and unvarnished website covering China and its airline system. will be addressing the dynamics of what until the last two months was indicated to be the #1 air passenger market in the world by the end of next year. The airline system there was expected to represent over one third of all global airliner demand in the next ten years.

China’s airports had been handling an average annual growth of 10% for more than a decade. While in 2019, some severe cracks in China’s economy were in the process of slowing that rate to under 8%, the industry as a whole was still robust.

Not anymore.

The fundamentals of the domestic and international markets for Chinese carriers have changed. The airline system hasn’t.

This week, we cover how the current structure of the Chinese air transportation system simply is out of sync with the China that is now undergoing not only the coronavirus epidemic, but also a troubled economy and a new enforced political philosophy from the CCP in Beijing that’s starting to resemble the personality-based days of Mao.

A brief Market Intelligence report can be reviewed by clicking here. This is information and insight not available anywhere else. If you’re interested in exploring how this will affect the air transportation system globally, it’s a must read.

Also coming shortly on BoydGroupChina will be historical month-by-month traffic data for the Middle Kingdom, plus updates on our Airports:China forecasts, covering the 200 largest (and that’s almost all) commercially-served airports in the country.

As we complete the development of, it will be available on a complimentary basis. Our goal is to make this site the #1 access point for perspectives on aviation in China.

With what’s going on right now, it will be a “must” resource.




Monday Update – February 17, 2020

February 17 Update

737 MAX – A Kiwi Until The Fall?

According to reports, the scrutiny of the 737 MAX may have uncovered some additional issues that could delay the return of these aircraft to the global skies.

For American and United, not great news, but they do have other single-aisle airliners coming on line, both new and used, operated both in-house and outsourced. The lightweight media stories about cancellations are misleading… these are seats that aren’t being put into the schedule in the first place.

Southwest, as of now, has no real options. Even prior to Max issue, they’d already scoured the earth for used -700s, and maybe looking at used -800s, although there are not many out there on the market.


Bombardier Exits Airliner Business – After Shaking It Up Big Time

Bombardier of Canada – once arguably the #3 global airliner manufacturer – has now divested itself of most of its involvement in the aircraft business.

At least it goes out with an increasingly loud bang, and one enormous legacy.

Bombardier’s CSeries – now the Airbus A220 – already has 764 orders on the books, with over 300 of these from carriers in North America.

Teething problems attendant to any new airliner aside, the A220 is the game changer that pushed industry giants Airbus into the A320Neo program and Boeing into the 737MAX.

Not too shabby for a relatively small company in Canada.


Coronavirus & U.S. Airport Readiness…

We can start with this: for the time being, most U.S. airports and airlines have no real immediate threat from the coronavirus epidemic.

Overall, the U.S. has pursued an aggressive and pro-active program to identify potential entry points for the disease. And it is a nasty, highly-contagious and highly deadly disease.

One sometimes-repeated bit of nonsense is that it’s no worse than the common flu… and buttressed by the non sequitur and stupid statistic that more people died from it than coronavirus. That bit of malarkey has gone silent now that the “official” death tally in China is over 1,600. (Take that and treble it, and you’ll still probably be short of the real number.)

People don’t fall down dead or almost dead on the streets of Omaha due to the common flu. But that’s happening in cities across China.

China Air Transportation System: It’s Not Going To Fully Recover. For airports across China, this is a nightmare… Based on reports from inside China, domestic air traffic right now is down as much a 70%, depending on the source.

Don’t buy into the babble from the usual “analyst” suspects that this will be just like the effects of the 2003 SARS epidemic – the traffic will bounce back soon after the crisis is over.

No way… this is a whole different situation than 17 years ago. For one thing, airports in China were handling less than 300,000 passengers then. In 2019, that figure was 1.4 billion. For another thing, this epidemic has likely exacerbated the challenges that were already facing the Chinese economy.

Lots of Open Gates. Lots of Room On The Great Wall. As of this date and with the information at hand, our Airports:China™ forecast is for China’s airports to handle over 400 million fewer passengers in 2020 – a 30% decline, after a decade of 10% annual growth.

And that’s a best-case scenario.

We cover this in an update at The situation is dire, and the formerly exciting expectations for China-U.S. air traffic of just a year ago are gone.

You Betcha – Flying Is “Safe” In China– Just Don’t Get Close To Anybody. The bungling – or, worse the cover-ups – in handling this epidemic by the Chinese Communist Party – has been shameful.

Even as they are quarantining millions, they publicly are denouncing countries that are cutting off air service. This whole mess started because they let millions of people travel from Wuhan – after they knew full well that there was a virus epidemic. Political correctness and avoiding embarrassment, don’t ya know.

This isn’t doing Chinese airlines – which have increasingly earned global reputations for first-rate air service – any favors. But is putting the kibosh on a lot of future air travel to China. Given the shenanigans of the PRC government, there’s going to be a “enter at your own risk” sign on the national door for a long time to come.

One ridiculous missive recently put out in China states that it’s safe to take an airplane trip – in fact, it’s the safest way to travel, they tell us – as long as you don’t sit too close to others, as transmission of the virus is unlikely more than a couple seats away. Oh, and a window seat will give you the least exposure, too.

They must think we all just fell off a turnip truck to believe this malarkey.

North American Carriers: Limited Effect on Bottom Lines. What will bounce back, however, are the three U.S. airline systems that have found it necessary to cancel all service to China. While this is a short-term fleet planning disruption, American, Delta and United have other opportunities with that capacity.

Perspective: In 2019, there were approximately 7.8 million air trips between the U.S. and China, via all routings – nonstop and over other Asian connect hubs. That’s within approximately 560 million total U.S. air trips. (Trips, not enplanements, by the way.)

To get some information on the coronavirus as it is affecting air service, take a look at our latest updates on BoydGroupChina,com. Click here.

There are a couple of insights that a lot of the media have entirely missed.



Monday Update – February 10, 2020

Before We Start This Week:

The advance bookings for the 25th annual Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit are running at a record pace.

This year, our line-up of distinguished aviation executives – each delivering their own vision of the future – will be the most exciting yet. For more information and to register, just click here.

We look forward to seeing you in Cincinnati USA on August 23-25!



Today, Issues & Trends To Watch

Thia week, we’re going to take a snapshot look at a number of issues around the aviation industry.

Last A380 Shipset Coming Together – But Airbus Is On A Roll

The final wing assembly for the A380 program is on its way from Northern Ireland to the final assembly operation in France.

Attendees At The IAFS™ Got A Contrarian Forecast. We’d point out that when this technological marvel (which it certainly is) was first announced, and when the first one rolled out of the factory in 2005, Boyd Group International was among the very few research firms that predicted that there would be – at max – global demand for 350 to 400 of these machines, in stark contrast to the 1,000+ predicted by various sources.

The aviation media was generally giddy, with articles predicting how all major airlines all around the globe would be ordering the A380. Our forecasts presented at the annual IAFS back then ran way counter to the “consensus.”

As it turns out, even we were a bit optimistic. At the end of the production, which is scheduled to be around late 2021, there will be 269 A380s produced. Just 14 airlines entered the orderbook, and all but 4 were in Asia or the Middle East.

The Real Story: Airbus Not Missing A Beat. Amid this difficult situation, Airbus has simply moved on, developing the A321 into a world-beating, multi-mission airliner, and has also acquired from Bombardier what is arguably the world’s most performance-advanced airliner platform, the A220. Then take a look at the performance of the A-350Neo.

The A380 may have failed to meet projections… but the rest of the Airbus inventory is more than making up for it.

New Report: U.S. Airports To Need Scuba Gear By 2100

According to an organization called the World Resources Institute, by 2100, several airports in New York, Florida and California should plan to be waterfront properties, unless, they warned, we act now to curb climate change.

Yessir, there’s nothing like a safe, completely unverifiable forecast. One that predicts something that’s 80 years away, and when it turns out this is another event in a decades-long contest among advocacy groups to out-Cassandra each other, these august and rarely questioned experts will be long gone, without any need to discuss their findings.

Do an internet search. Going back a century you can find these types of predictions galore.

Point to consider. We have a severe intellectual challenge. Anyone, including folks with impeccable professional climatology expertise, who dare to so much as question any aspect of the current narrative on the causes and issues surrounding “climate change” and they are uniformly ignored, or attacked.

But let some oh-so-concerned 16-year-old Swedish kid, Gretta What’s-Her-Name, likely with not much more climate research or expertise beyond knowing how to boil an egg, come out and demand action, and she’s a global hero, with world leaders swooning over her. Who is kidding who?

Message to airports… reducing emissions and getting green is of course a necessary objective. But we’d suggest that Palm Springs not just yet request discretionary funding for a new marina to serve the airport.


Millions In Technology Brought To Its Knees By A Low-Fat Latte

European aviation regulators have issued instructions to have “liquid free” zones in the cockpits of A-350-900/1000 airliners.

There have been instances where a spill on the center console between the pilots has caused uncommanded engine shutdowns.

So, that means in-seat cockpit coffee breaks may be verboten in the future.


New Trans-Atlantic – U.S. Service In The Pipeline. Soon.

The mess and total lack of credibility created by the Chinese government in handling the coronavirus epidemic will – write this down – materially affect levels of Chinese air traffic, both domestic and international for the long term.

That, however, should have large, secondary non-hubsite U.S. airports preparing to accommodate more trans-Atlantic service.

Let’s explain:

We are in the process of revising our Airports:China™ forecast, covering the top 200 airports. The initial findings are that total domestic traffic in 2021 will be down at least 30%.

But plan on at least 75% of the pre-epidemic international capacity getting cut. That represents a lot of airplanes – including U.S. and E.U. carriers – suddenly out of the schedule. Over half of the China-international traffic is based on leisure passengers, and that’s a segment that’s heading for the drainpipe, taking with it a lion’s share of the revenue previously supporting long-haul nonstops.

On the Chinese side, that sector will be blocked by concerned countries banning folks from the Middle Kingdom from arriving. Not anybody’s fault but the hubris of the PRC government, which actively covered up the epidemic, and in the process allowed millions infected citizens to travel from Wuhan during the Lunar New Year holiday, spreading the disease across all of China

Regarding inbound traffic to to China, after all that’s come out about the PRC’s handing of the epidemic, not to mention the increased scrutiny of foreigners, the exciting future we saw with our ChinaNiHao Project just four years ago for China-U.S. traffic is gone.

So, on this side of the Atlantic, we have Delta, American and United, stuck with some big airplanes sitting on the ramp, all dressed up with nowhere to go in China. Even more than that, it has left foreign carriers such as Lufthansa and British Airways with excess aircraft, too.

They need to apply this lift somewhere, so look for some unexpected fleet shifts this summer, leading to an accelerated expansion of trans-Atlantic capacity from both major and secondary U.S. airports.

And it won’t just be U.S. airlines, either.


Monday Update – February 3, 2020

Before We Start This Week…

Southwest Airlines At the IAFS

Andrew Watterson, EVP & Chief Revenue Officer To Participate At the #1 Aviation Event of The Year

The International Aviation Forecast Summit is the event that delivers over-the-horizon perspectives of the future of aviation… perspectives that give our attendees the competitive edge.

This is another reason that the international Aviation Forecast Summit should be a part of your calendar for 2020. This is the event where you get real direction and perspectives from the airline and aviation leaders who will shape the future.

Southwest can be expected to deliver some exciting new dimensions in route and market direction in the second half of 2020. With the expected return of the 737 MAX, it’s an airline that’s ready to bring their brand of service to more places, more often. This is one part of the IAFS not to miss.

Planning Air Service Outreach? Stop shooting in the dark. Make sure you join us in Cincinnati USA on August 23-25. The IAFS is where you get the straight understanding of the strategies of airlines and their market planning… right from the executives making the decisions. This allows our airport attendees to sharpen their outreach efforts, honing them to the real tactical directions of target airlines.


The Coronavirus

Facing The Air Travel Damage

As noted earlier, initial revisions to Boyd Group International’s Airports:China™ and Airports:USA® forecasts indicated as much as a 75% reduction in China-U.S. air traffic through June.

It’s no longer “as much” – it’s really “at least.”

Nonstops To/From China? – By 4Q, Maybe. The three U.S. airlines operating to points in China have chopped flights through March or April, depending on carrier, and with the mess evolving in the Chinese government response to the epidemic, it is a near lead-pipe cinch these cancellations will be extended.

We are seeing melt-down – justifiably so – in consumer interest in visiting China. The inept and politically-motivated cover-up of this epidemic until just about two weeks ago, and through the start of the super-dense Lunar New Year travel cycle, is an outrage.

When the facts are made clear, the PRC has single-handedly torpedoed what until recently was fixin’ to develop into the most exciting air travel growth situation in history.

The legitimate fear is that this one enormous event is going to make leisure travel to China in the future very unattractive, and travel from China not welcome due to medical uncertainties.

This could be for months, and the reputation of China as a destination damaged for years. Maybe. It will depend on the folks in Beijing.

As of today, our forecasts are predicting at least a 75% reduction in China-U.S. travel for the full year 2020, and at least a 15% decline in domestic air travel in China.

The Background Story Isn’t Going Away. It’s not just the coronavirus. It’s the handling and policies and propaganda that will leave a mark on China as a leisure destination… and as a business destination, too.

Just touching on this, the coronavirus and its propensity to be rapidly spread. was discovered in late December. Doctors and journalists, however, were warned by the PRC government to not “engage in false rumors” in claiming it even existed.

Then, to prove to the people that there was nothing to worry about, the government barely two weeks ago staged a massive community Lunar New Year Celebration of 40,000 families in Wuhan. Even though there were dozens of cases of the virus already reported.

We’re again showing the newspaper headline trumpeting the fun and frivolity of the event on January 18.

It has been ignored in the media, which too much is taking whatever comes out of China as rock-solid dogma.

Right after that, thousands of those that attended this hoedown left town for the traditional holiday migration. That spread the coronavirus across the entire country, as well as to points across the globe.

Newsreels v Reality. Only now, the PRC government, to the delight and kudos of the WHO (of which China is a major member, by the way) and the swooning of some in the media to whom checking facts is unnecessary, is taking firm and “aggressive” action.

They are sending hundreds of doctors to Wuhan to treat the illness. They are, in some cases literally, boarding up people in their homes. They are, according to their groupies in the international media, building hospitals almost overnight.

Wow. Action.

But the question comes up… do those doctors have protective garments? Do they have any sort of face masks? Are those “hospitals” really operative? And how come just several days ago, they were telling the world that Wuhan had adequate facilities?

At one point, the official media proudly showed a picture of the first built-in-days new hospital. Oops. It wasn’t a hospital at all. The picture was actually a photo lifted off of a website of a company advertising modular buildings.

The bottom line for air travel is that the underlying realities of how this situation has been dealt with is not one that’s very encouraging.

It Started Before The Coronavirus. From the very robust growth in travel and trade with China that we saw just four years ago, the entire situation has changed. Even before this epidemic, the fraying China economy was in line to put a big dent in travel to the U.S. Plus, the prior welcome that foreigners experienced in China started to decline, as political realities began to sink in.

How Do You Say “Chutzpah” In Mandarin? Now that the U.S. has implemented quarantine for citizens coming back from China, and has effectively advised Americans not to go there because of the continuing spread of the coronavirus, the PRC government is quite miffed.

They are claiming that such actions are not “friendly.”

Return To “Normal” – There Is No Normal. The PRC government has bungled this situation into what has spread as a health crisis in China, and one expanding to the rest of globe.

Combine this with other pre-epidemic trends and policies that have been implemented in China, such as increased restrictions on foreigners and travel within China, and we unfortunately would conclude that the vision that existed four years ago for China-U.S. travel is now gone.

When this health epidemic winds down (when?) and if there are changes in policies in Beijing in regard to foreigners, a new paradigm for U.S. – China travel will emerge. Maybe stronger than before.

But it is going to depend on actions in China. Not outside.



Monday Update – January 27, 2020

Before we start with the Monday Update… Announcing!

Jude Bricker – CEO of Sun Country To Present

At The International Aviation Forecast Summit

The International Aviation Forecast Summit is the event that delivers over-the-horizon perspectives of the future of aviation… perspectives that give our attendees the competitive edge.

That competitive edge will be honed further with an incisive session featuring Mr. Jude Bricker, CEO of Sun Country Airlines.

Widening its aviation footprint, Sun Country has announced that in addition to a growing ULCC network, it will be also operating freighters for Amazon. This is a new type of business plan, and one that gives the airline a much wider revenue footprint.

Mr. Bricker joins the exciting line-up of aviation industry leaders that will be delivering their views of the future. At the IAFS, the focus is not on pre-determined “panel discussions,” but on exploring what these executives see ahead.

Standby For Traffic, Fleet & Trend Forecasts, Too. There are a few giant monkey wrenches that might – might – affect air transportation domestically and globally in the coming 36 months, and they’re going to be reviewed at the IAFS. Like, the effects of new-generation, multi-mission narrow-body platforms on airline route planning. The return of the 737 MAX. Plus, a lot of unknown factors… if the current coronavirus epidemic continues to spread in China and globally, airline travel will be materially affected. The IAFS forecast sessions are known for identifying emerging trends.

Special Early Registration Rates. Register now, and take advantage of low New Year registration rates through January 30. If you can attend only one event in 2020, this is the one that delivers information, forecasts and perspectives no other event comes close to.

Click here now, and get a jump on the future!


China – U.S. Traffic: All Bets Are Off

Matter of Fact, The Casino May Get Shuttered

Occasional cases of the potentially deadly coronavirus are being discovered all over the world, including in the USA.

But it’s now all across China. In a big way.

As it appears now, it is spreading quickly… and is worse than publicly conveyed in China, where there are private videos of folks collapsing in the street, and ambulances taking people to overcrowded hospitals.

As of today, the virus has spread from its start in the city of Wuhan to every province in China.

Official numbers are now indicating over 2,500 cases. Based on the reliability of government actions in China, you would be safe to quintuple that number.

Revisiting Traffic Forecasts

China-US air traffic represents approximately 7.08 million annual O&D.

Or, at least that’s what it was forecast to be in 2020, until now. Airports:USA® and Airports:China™ data are now being revised to reflect the expected effects on U.S.- China air traffic.

They are not comforting and they may not be short term.

As of today, and depending on the developments in China, between January and June, we are forecasting at least a 75% drop in passenger traffic between the USA and China. Severe, but based on current understanding of the situation in China, it may even be optimistic.

When the real facts are known about this virus, and how it is spreading, nobody awake and sober is considering a leisure trip to anywhere in the Middle Kingdom.

PRC government is massively and belatedly trying now to deter travel within the country, even up to the point of putting up roadblocks between provinces.

As a preventative measure, it’s a lost cause, due to their inaction and attempts in the early stages to deny the outbreak. We’ll touch on that later.

Millions of people have skidaddled out of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, long before the government’s attempts to prevent such movements, and long after the government knew about the virus.

On one hand, it is Spring Festival, the Lunar New Year, when travel in China represents the biggest human migration on earth. Trains are packed, busses, too. Airports are crowded. A perfect situation to quickly spread a contagious disease.

On the other hand, there were lots of people in Wuhan aware of the expansion of the coronavirus, and they wanted to get out of Dodge, too.

Some Preliminary Traffic Numbers

At least for the next six months, flights between China and the USA are going to be financial disasters.

And some U.S. gateways are going to take some hits, too.

As of today, the Airports:USA® forecast for SFO indicates a loss of at least 344,000 O&D through June, as a result of the expected collapse of traffic to and from China.

At LAX, the estimate is 702,000 O&D reduction. Not lethal to LAWA, but still a significant financial bang.

Air Service Cuts Inevitable

Furthermore, we can expect to see Chinese carriers quickly cut flying to the U.S. – on a “temporary basis.”  In particular, service to any second-tier Chinese destination is likely on the near-term chopping block.

We can even expect to see a couple of Chinese carriers drop out of the U.S. market. One to watch is Hainan, whose load factors are almost uniformly below the 83% China-US average.

#1 Preventative Measure – Stay Away

Already, US carriers are taking precautions. One airline has issued masks to flight attendants on flights to and from China.

Sounds great… except the paper masks we see people wearing across China don’t do diddly to prevent spread of disease. They do a great job of keeping the wearer from drooling on other people, but viruses can get in easily.

The masks that do have some effect – called N95 respiratory masks – are only effective when worn constantly, are not removed and only for short periods. The point is that in any close quarters, the coronavirus can be transmitted.

Oh, and you probably can’t buy N95 masks, anyway. Take a look on Amazon… in just about all cases they are “temporarily unavailable” – speculators have scooped them up, probably.

Actually, U.S. carriers may have to completely re-think China flying for the near term. Beijing and Shanghai are no longer outside of the reach of the coronavirus.

Out of Control. Because Denial Was The First Step

A little context to this situation…

The coronavirus now spreading across China – and maybe the globe – is believed to have started in a typical and filthy “wet market” in Wuhan, which is a large city in central China.

A wet market is a place where all sorts of food – meat, fish, birds, snakes, poultry are sold under incredibly unhygienic conditions. No refrigeration. Meat sitting out all day, pawed by vendors that don’t wash hands, and by shoppers. Flies and other insects are rampant.

Some misguided folks have lauded China for taking “quick action” to contain the virus. Flat wrong. The first actions were apparently to try to make it appear that there was no problem, and only when the virus started to appear around China from people traveling, did government entities “take action.”

One example is the grand neighborhood Spring Festival meal that was put on for over 100,000 people, all partaking together of a huge communal repast. To show that there was no problem, it was right in Wuhan, and only four miles from the place the epidemic was generated.

Worse, it was held days after the epidemic was known and was spreading.  There were at the time 56 reported cases of the disease – and, being “official” data, you can at least double the number.

But the people in charge did not want the news of the potential virus to get out. So they covered it with big news on events such as the 40,000 families attending a shindig. Epidemic? What epidemic?

Later, the decision was made to quarantine all of Wuhan. Close the airport, cancel the trains, shut down the bus systems. Great. But they gave the populace 8 hours of warning first. Exodus to the rest of China, and quick.

Bottom line: The growth in China-U.S. traffic is on hold – how long will depend on how much this epidemic expands in China and globally.

A virus loves to have people in close quarters.

That defines an airplane cabin. Threat noted.