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Boeing Co (BA.N) said on Tuesday airplane deliveries rose to 35 in September as it benefited from an uptick in domestic travel

SEATTLE, Oct 12 (Reuters)

An essential principle: greater air travel volume equals greater number of aircraft being manufactured and delivered to airlines.

This Reuters news report seems to allude that is actual number of travel increase which influences the delivery of aircraft, rather than other factors such as predicted future travel numbers, or planned expansion.

Planning air operations and orders surely takes place over a long time scale (months-years). Orders put in as a airline seeks to expand. Orders cancelled with large reductions in demand or business restructuring.

Avoiding ambiguity, I ask: has any empirical data been collected (and be provided in an answer) analysing the relationship between levels of current air travel and levels of aircraft deliveries. How do the timings of travel numbers vs. deliveries compare? I expect there might be lag between these two variables, but how long is this, across the global or various markets?

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, taking into consideration the timespan of order to delivery with a product like an airliner, it is damn well certain that deliveries do not follow changes in travel in this way under normal circumstances. This is all about covid & and the major FU called MCAS, that caused piling up of acft at various storage locations. As you suspected, normally the causal relation is based on the art and magic of predictions. $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Oct 13, 2021 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ Speculation will be required to answer. What Reuters doesn't tell is when these currently delivered aircraft were ordered. Likely a long time ago. There is nothing preventing a customer to cancel or delay an order before delivery, paying predetermined fees, if owning a new aircraft is not economically justified. The increase mentioned may just be the decrease of contract cancellations in reaction to current airline forecast. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Oct 13, 2021 at 9:33

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Boeing did indeed deliver 35 planes in Sep 2021.

But – big but – removing the held-up 737 Max deliveries, freighter deliveries, and military variants of the 737 and 767, we are left with but two 777-300ERs that went to Aeroflot. [boeing.com*]

* Scroll down to Orders and Deliveries, select the Deliveries tab and then Sep 2021, then unselect the aforementioned models.


The topic of demand forecasting is indeed complicated and indeed long-term as you suspected; to answer your question empirically as requested:

According to a 2016 study, the growth ("increase"; delta) values of GDP, ASM (Available Seat Miles), and RPM (Revenue Passenger Miles), had "insignificant correlation" with orders and deliveries (also the resolution of the data isn't high enough to begin with):

The variables RPM Growth, GDP Growth, ASM Growth were consequently eliminated from further analysis due to the lack of accurate quarterly data and insignificant correlation to the dependent variables. [Monahan, p. 31]

The lag you mention was also looked into in the same study. Taking the lag into account, the annual figures of Revenue, ASM, and RPM, have the highest correlation with deliveries. [Ibid., p. 34] Meaning as you suspected, when an airline does steadily well, it executes its plans for expansion – a sensible airline anyway. (Aeroflot placed the A350 and 777 orders for its three-year expansion plan well before the mid- to late-2021 uptick in air travel.)


Monahan, Kayla M. "Aircraft demand forecasting." (2016).

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