Parked aircraft holds steady; parked in-production base inches up: UBS

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UBS Investment research indicates 2,492 commercial aircraft were parked at the end of February, roughly unchanged from the prior month.

At 11% of the installed base, the park fleet is roughly 280 basis points below peak, having moved 6% lower over the past year, including declines in most regions other than the Middle East, says UBS.

However, parked in-production aircraft continue to move "steadily higher" including 6% growth in February, "nearly back to prior peak levels from early 2011, driven by increases in parked Airbus A320, Boeing 737 Next Generation, Boeing 747, Airbus A330, Boeing 777, and Embraer ERJ 170/175, partially offset by declines in parked Bombardier CRJ 900 and Embraer ERJ 190/195 aircraft."

Of the 457 total parked in-production aircraft, UBS says 229 units, or 50%, are ten-years old or younger, including 113 units, or 25%, that are five-years old or younger.

UBS estimates 479 aircraft have been scrapped in the last 12 months, equivalent to roughly 2% of the fleet, including 351 large passenger aircraft, 84 freighters and 44 regional jets, which are under 70 seats.

It notes that "young scraps" or assets that are less than 20-years old "have now been running above historical levels for roughly three years."

The research firm counts 55 scraps, or retirements, so far in 2012. This is 8% higher on a year-to-date basis compared with 2011, although UBS says it would expect to revise this estimate higher "as scraps are frequently discovered after the fact."

By manufacturer, UBS estimates 64% of the parked fleet consists of Boeing aircraft, although only 10% of the parked Boeing aircraft are in-production models, whereas 69% of parked Airbus aircraft are in-production models.

UBS estimates the average age of the parked Boeing fleet at 26 years, compared with Airbus at 15 years and the total parked fleet at 22 years.