Are There Aircraft Shortages This Summer?


Posted in General Travel Insurance Able2Travel on 5 June 2024

As summer approaches, many travellers like you are eagerly planning their vacations or are getting excited for the ones they’ve already booked. But a significant challenge looms over the airline industry: a severe plane shortage. This scarcity, driven by issues with Boeing's 737 Max and Airbus's short-haul aircraft engines, is causing disruptions across the world. With airlines scrambling to meet demand, travellers this summer should brace for potential flight cancellations and rising costs. Here’s what you need to know about the current situation and how it might affect your travel plans.

The Boeing 737 Max Dilemma

Boeing, one of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers, has been grappling with safety standard issues surrounding its 737 Max planes. The 737 Max was actually grounded worldwide in 2019 after two sadly fatal incidents, and although it has since returned to service having rectified the issues, ongoing scrutiny and necessary modifications have slowed production and delivery. Many airlines that rely heavily on the Boeing 737 plane for their short-haul routes are now finding themselves with fewer planes than needed, exacerbating the aircraft shortage.

Airbus and the Engine Recall Crisis

The situation is compounded by problems faced by Airbus, Boeing's primary competitor. Airbus's short-haul aircraft is equipped with engines made by Pratt & Whitney who have also encountered significant issues recently. This has resulted in Pratt & Whitney recalling hundreds of engines due to manufacturing defects that could compromise safety. This recall has forced many Airbus planes out of service for repairs, leading to further strain on airline fleets.

Impact on Airlines and Travelers

With both major manufacturers facing significant setbacks, airlines worldwide are struggling to maintain their flight schedules. This aircraft shortage has several immediate consequences for travellers:

  1. Increased Flight Cancellations: Airlines are being forced to cancel or reschedule flights due to the lack of available aircraft. This is particularly troublesome for popular short-haul destinations in Europe, where demand peaks during the summer months.
  2. Higher Ticket Prices: The basic economic principle of supply and demand is at play here. As there are fewer planes in operation, the available seats on flights become more valuable. The result of this is an increase in the cost of flights to popular destinations where the rise could be dramatic. This is particularly concerning for budget-conscious travellers and families planning their summer holidays.
  3. Travel Insurance Importance: Given the potential for last minute flight cancellations and delays, purchasing a suitable Travel Insurance policy has never been more important. For those traveling within Europe, specific Travel Insurance for Europe should be considered, and families might want to look into specialised family Travel Insurance to ensure all travelling family members are covered. This will also provide you with peace of mind in the lead up to and during your trip.
How Airlines Are Coping

To mitigate the impact of the aircraft shortage, airlines are employing several strategies:

Wet-Leasing

One common approach is wet leasing, where airlines lease planes, complete with crew, maintenance, and insurance, from other companies. This allows airlines to meet peak demand periods without having to purchase additional aircraft. Wet leasing provides a temporary fix but can be costly, often translating to higher fares for passengers.

Aircraft Leasing

In addition to wet leasing, some airlines are opting to lease aircraft from other carriers that have excess capacity. This can help fill gaps in the schedule but is a limited solution as it is dependent on the availability of aircraft from other airlines.

Adjusting Schedules

Airlines are also re-evaluating their flight schedules, prioritising routes with the highest demand and profitability. This may mean fewer flights to less popular destinations or at off-peak times. While this helps maximize the use of available planes, it can also lead to inconvenience for travellers whose preferred routes or travel times are affected.

Preparing for Summer Travel 

With the current aircraft shortage likely to persist through the summer, travellers should plan ahead to minimise potential disruptions:

  • Book Early: Given the expected rise in ticket prices, securing your flights early can help lock in better rates.
  • Stay Flexible: Be prepared for changes to your travel plans. Flexibility with travel dates and times can make it easier to rebook if your flight is cancelled.
  • Invest in Travel Insurance: Protect yourself from unforeseen disruptions by purchasing Travel Insurance that covers flight cancellations and delays.
In Summary

The ongoing aircraft shortage being driven by issues with Boeing planes and Airbus engines is creating significant challenges for the airline industry and travellers alike. While airlines are taking steps to manage the situation, the effects are likely to be felt throughout the summer. By understanding the current landscape and preparing accordingly, travellers can navigate these turbulent times with greater ease, negating the effects it has on their air travel as much as possible.

Remember, in these uncertain times, finding the right Travel Insurance can provide you with financial protection and peace of mind as you embark on your summer adventures.

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  • Trip Interruption Cover - up to £5,000
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Please note that Travel Insurance will not cover you if you are aware of your flight being cancelled before taking out your policy. Travel Insurance is intended to protect you against unknown risks and unforeseen circumstances. If you are aware that your flight will be cancelled or delayed prior to taking out a policy, then this becomes a known risk and would not be covered.

This article is for information and entertainment purposes only. It does not constitute advice in any way. The information provided here is correct at the time of writing however please check the latest policy wording for the latest terms, conditions, and exclusions.


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