Why orders for widebody airliners rose in 2023

If 2023 proved anything, it was that there is high demand for airliners. While narrowbodies dominate sales, widebodies regained popularity after the slump during the pandemic years. Richard Schuurman explains what is driving this uptick

It is four years since global air travel came to an abrupt standstill in March and April 2020 after a new virus called COVID-19 became a superspreader. Airlines parked aircraft by the hundreds and the outlook was grim. The first victims? Widebodies, as long-haul travel collapsed almost overnight. IATA and others predicted that it would take at least until 2024 and 2025 before the industry would recover to 2019 levels.

But that recovery has happened much quicker. While widebody flight hours were just ten hours a month in April 2020, three years later in April 2023, they had recovered to between 70 and 90 hours. The most active? The Boeing 787, which racked up almost 90 hours per aeroplane, ahead of the Airbus A350 and Boeing 777 at 80 hours per month and the A330 at 70 hours, data from Aviation Week showed.

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