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Aerospace Execs Optimistic; Preparing for Rate Hikes & Fuel Price Volatility

September 03, 2015, 07:08 AM
Filed Under: Aerospace

Aerospace executives are optimistic about the short-term prospects of their industry, but looming interest rate hikes and fuel price volatility are compelling them to act, according to an exclusive online study released by CIT Aerospace, a global leader in aircraft finance, a division of CIT Group. The study, “2015 Aerospace Outlook” (, was conducted by Harris Poll among 100 airline fleet and finance executives.

“Airline executives are taking advantage of current interest rate levels and low fuel prices to reduce ticket prices, invest in technology and increase their fleet utilization,” said Jeff Knittel, President of CIT Transportation & International Finance. “However, they realize that the market is changing and many are preparing for future challenges around fuel price volatility, increased competition and rising interest rates. In fact, 63% believe higher interest rates will change their company’s views on purchasing new aircraft and 65% indicate that these higher rates will cause them to increase the lease content of their fleet.”


Preparing for Rising Interest Rates:

  • Eighty-one percent of executives agree that interest rates will rise by more than 1% in the next two years.
  • More than three-quarters (76%) expect to pay more for financed aircraft as interest rates rise.

Fuel Price Volatility on the Horizon:

  • Sixty-three percent of executives believe that fuel price volatility will have a positive impact or no impact on their plans to acquire new technology aircraft.
  • Half of executives believe that fuel prices will increase in the next 18 months, and four out of five expect them to increase within the next three years.
  • Despite the expectation for fuel price increases in the future, the top three actions taken by executives to benefit from the current fuel price levels are: hedging at current fuel prices, reducing ticket prices and increasing utilization of their current fleet.

Aircraft and Cabin Innovations Highly Anticipated:

  • More than four in five (86%)* believe that airframers will launch replacement programs for the popular single aisle market, which will enter into service before 2030.
  • Nearly eight in ten (79%)* agree that used aircraft in the 130-seat category will be in high demand in the next 10 years due to the current lack of new units in the same seat category entering the market.
  • Seventy-three percent of executives believe that technology/innovation in aircraft will have the biggest positive impact on their company in the next five years.
  • Three-quarters of executives (75%) report that their company already provides, or plans to provide in the next five years, internet connectivity to passengers on narrow body and wide body aircraft.

Fleet Leasing Expected To Remain High:

  • Over the next two years, executives say their businesses plan to increase in-flight sales (60%), the number of routes (58%) and the number of flights (55%).
  • More than half (54%) expect to increase the number of aircraft over the next two years.
  • In five years, executives expect to lease a higher percentage of narrow body aircraft (on average 52%) than wide body (on average 33%).
  • Executives indicated that lease terms (62%), a lessor’s responsiveness to their requests (53%) and efficiency of the lease negotiations process (48%) were the most important areas when leasing aircraft.
  • A significant majority of executives (65%) believe that their companies will increase the percentage of leased aircraft in their fleet due to rising interest rates.

The study was commissioned by CIT and conducted online by Harris Poll from February to May 2015 among 100 commercial airline fleet and finance executives. Among respondents, principle area of their airlines’ operation was Europe (38%), North America (38%), Asia/Pacific (13%), South America (5%), Africa (3%) and the Middle East (3%).

*Note that select questions were asked among a reduced base of respondents, resulting in a small sample size.

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