Major plane shortage fuels turbulent skies


Airlines facing shortage of more than 12,000 commercial planes: Report

FOX Business’ Jeff Flock reports from Newark Liberty International Airport, where flights are being impacted by a plane shortage.

Adding to a myriad of industry issues, experts warn that airline travelers may soon face more turbulence thanks to a nationwide plane shortage.

Due to a combination of manufacturer supply chain issues, a pandemic flying bust and Boeing production rollbacks, airlines are reportedly short 12,720 commercial airplanes, according to investment bank Jefferies.

The report comes just after Washington-based Boeing announced it won’t deliver any brand-new plane models until the mid-2030s, and still seems to be grappling with overlapping crises caused by a 20-month grounding in the wake of two crashes and the COVID-19 pandemic.

A commercial jet backlog will likely lessen your chances of flying on an updated aircraft with new in-flight amenities, one expert explained.


"Consumers and passengers may just be not enjoying the most up-to-date cabins and products that you might see on those new deliveries," Aerodynamic Advisory’s Mike Stengel told FOX Business’ Jeff Flock Monday in an appearance on "Varney & Co."

A shortage of commercial jetliners may mean passengers aren’t enjoying “the most up-to-date cabins and products,” Aerodynamic Advisory’s Mike Stengel said on “Varney & Co.” Monday, January 23, 2023. (Getty Images)

In December 2019, Boeing made the decision to halt production of its 737 MAX jetliner for nearly two years following two fatal crashes, creating a shortage of 400 planes. Following the grounding, Boeing produced only about 40 planes per month.

Upon completing rigorous safety and regulatory certifications, Boeing’s MAX planes were allowed back in service, and in 2021, the company began test flights on the largest member of its best-selling single-aisle airplane.

During the MAX’s safety grounding, photos of planes stranded in the desert went viral. But according to an aviation consultant, many of those exact jetliners have already been brought back online.


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"Most of what is economically useful to airlines has already been recalled from the desert and put back into operation," Bob Mann said in a statement to Flock on Friday.

The planes that remain out of use, according to Mann, are likely "gas-guzzling planes" that aren’t as economically viable amid high jet fuel costs.

Consumers have already reported feeling the cabin downgrade, with one U.S. Department of Transportation report showing 49,000 complaints were filed to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2022, up 27% year-over-year.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said airlines that operate as if this is still 2019, before the pandemic, are bound to struggle.



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According to Kirby, the industry has a shortage of pilots and other workers, outdated technology and strain on the FAA.

"The system simply can’t handle the volume today, much less the anticipated growth," Kirby said during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call with analysts and reporters. "There are a number of airlines who cannot fly their schedules. The customers are paying the price."


FOX Business’ Ken Martin contributed to this report.

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