Monday Insight – March 7, 2022

Airports:USA® Ukraine Contingency Forecast:
10% – 15% Reduction In National Enplanements.


The effects of the Ukraine invasion are now starting to invade the USA air transportation system.

Oil prices just hit $130 a barrel. ‘Nuff said. Plan on this… air traffic volume will decline, and you can take this to your bookie: there will be major capacity pull-backs at US airline systems. Probably sooner than later. Much sooner.

This is not hyperbole, and it is not a drill. We’d strongly suggest that all sectors of US aviation begin to plan for some falling flak coming from the mess in the Ukraine. It could be severe. And it will manifest differently at every commercially-served airport in America.

In fact, just the initial effects of fuel spikes affecting domestic capacity, not to mention a potential collapse of what is left of international demand, could result in 2022 seeing as much as a 15% cut in expected airport enplanements… that’s around 130 million fewer than currently expected, and almost 25% below 2019 levels.

Airline Margins To Be Squeezed. Okay, everybody. Heads out of the clouds. Reality is on the way.

At $130 a barrel oil, the cost of go juice is going to have a rapid effect on overtime in airline route planning departments. It’s also going to be nasty for general and business aviation as well.

The jacking up of future jet-A prices is going to hit every airport the USA. No exceptions. No matter if they have commercial service or not. Time to batten down the financial hatches now to prepare for a nasty downturn.

Take a look at the levels of 50-seat jet service… rethink reliance on leisure travel generation… concession revenues are going to take a hit.

There Could Be A Winner In This Hoedown. It’s a coincidence that CommutAir just shifted over 30 ERJ-145s out of their system to JSX. The JSX model is a sound one, and there are open questions on whether this pending (and uncertain) slash in major airline flying might just be a boon to the type of product JSX offers.

The Family & The Business Budgets Just Took Some Heavy Hits. Yup, $130 a barrel oil is going to put a number of now-marginal hub feed routes into goodbye gear.

Toss in the corollary effects of overall price inflation generated by the Washington playpen, and the appalling, politically-motivated and irresponsible refusal of the inhabitants in the White House to increase domestic oil production, and only a mentally-challenged zombie just arriving from Mars could miss the implications. Our intrepid seat warmer in the DOT was asked about this, and his response was that it would be better to squeeze oil flow to encourage purchase of electric automobiles.

You can scratch out the babble about pilot shortages affecting air service. What may or may not be sitting in the cockpit isn’t going to make no nevermind when consumers are paying $4 for unleaded, the cost of groceries skyrocket, and the airlines find that hurling a 50-seat jet to markets that could barely break even a year ago is now financially lethal.

The Expected International Travel Comeback Isn’t Coming. Take a look at international air traffic. Before the Chinese Communist Party engineered/allowed a global pandemic to spread beyond Wuhan (sorry 60 Minutes, we prefer the truth), international markets were a key part of the revenue streams of the US airline system.

Trans-Pacific was already starting to decline due to geopolitical factors, but today, all major international flows – trans-Pac and trans-Atlantic – are getting zapped. Between the mess in the Ukraine facing the E.U., and the thugs in Beijing threatening to invade Taiwan, plus the increases in cost of jet fuel, these revenue streams are in real jeopardy. That will affect what airlines can plan within the domestic market.

Tokyo-London… Clear An Added Four Hours. As we outlined in a recent Aviation Unscripted video, the travel streams between Western Europe and the Far East are being choked by prohibitions of flying over Mother Russia. Japan Airlines flights between Tokyo and London are now 15 hours instead of 11 hours due to the magical mystery tour routings needed to avoid PutinLand.

What this means is that we can expect a whole lot of red pencil action in airline schedule planning departments.

As it stood before the Ukraine war, the US airport industry was already forecast to experience 100 million fewer enplanements in 2022 compared to 2019. Now, that’s looking really, really optimistic. We are conservatively estimating a Ukraine-driven contingency projection of around 790 to 810 enplanements, down from 900 million.

Plan For The Future With An Airports:USA® Forecast. This will – will – affect traffic and enplanement levels at airports across the country. We’d suggest getting a view of the future by ordering an Airports:USA® short-term enplanement forecast that will give a clearer picture of the possible range of outcomes specific to your airport.

Airports:USA® is the only source of up-to-the-minute enplanement projections for airports across the USA. The traffic, capacity, fleet applications and both historic and future trends are reviewed for each.

Based on known and expected airline strategic and fleet shifts, Boyd Group International will deliver a 12-month forecast, with insight and analyses of the specific strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities as airlines adjust to the coming crisis.

Give us a call, or log onto for more information. Don’t get caught blind-sided. Nobody can stop the fallout coming in the next few months, but we can help you understand and prepare.