FRANKFURT, GERMANY — Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr has highlighted that supply-side challenges will be a "major driver" of the airline industry in the coming years, as one-third of Swiss' Airbus A220 fleet is currently grounded. 

Speaking during the announcement of the group's first-quarter 2023 performance on May 3, Spohr emphasized that he had never seen anything like the current supply challenges in his 30 years in the industry.

Swiss A220 aircraft are facing issues with their PW1500G engines, while Pratt & Whitney powerplant problems have also grounded three brand-new A320neo-family jets at Lufthansa mainline. Supply chain struggles stemming from the pandemic downturn have led to a shortage of basic parts, with A220s being particularly susceptible to a lack of spare engines during maintenance and repair work.

To cope with the situation, Swiss is currently wet-leasing six A220-300s from Air Baltic. However, the challenges are not limited to Pratt & Whitney or the MRO sector; they extend across the entire global industry, including delays in new aircraft deliveries. Spohr explains that companies need to rebuild their production facilities due to missing elements in supply chains, a situation he expects to "last some time."

Labor shortages further exacerbate supply issues, impacting not only Lufthansa but also its suppliers, airports, and ground services. Spohr agrees with United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby's assertion that the post-Covid operating environment has changed "profoundly" and that supply-side dynamics will restrict airline capacity for years to come.

In response to the engine challenges, Pratt & Whitney has stated that it expects supply chain pressures to ease later this year, which would support increased production of new and overhauled engines. In the meantime, the company is providing logistical support to its suppliers and developing solutions to improve engine durability.