01 July 2014

Comments on the “Airbus´ Very Bad Day” due to Emirates´ cancellation of A350 order.

This is a summary of the opinion-article written by Richard Aboulafia in Forbes Magazine the day of the Emirates´ announcement of A350 order cancellation, “the worst cancellation ever suffered by Airbus”.
A350 XWB Program.
Obviously, the first step is to point out that the A350 remains a very healthy program, with a very large order book and superb technical execution. 

http://www.airbus.com/galleries/photo-gallery/.   ©Airbus

It’s also worthwhile remembering that Emirates, despite its fantastic growth rates, really couldn’t absorb all these planes.  Being the biggest A380 customer, the biggest 777 customer, the biggest 777X customer, and one of the biggest A350 XWB customers is asking too much of one airline, no matter how fast they’re expanding.  Something had to give.

Airbus has a problem.
The second and much bigger step for Airbus is to admit they have a problem.   Boeing has two families (787 and 777/777X) covering the 240-407 seat waterfront; Airbus has been trying to cover as much of this waterfront as possible with the A350XWB family.  That’s a flawed strategy.

http://www.airbus.com/galleries/photo-gallery/.   ©Airbus

Decisions with big impact.
This second step requires two decisions, which will have a big impact.  The first is to stop pretending the A350-800 has any kind of future.  Kill it, and replace it with the A330neo.  That will cover the 250-300-seat segment.  To put it another way, without an A330neo, Airbus will effectively abandon this segment.
The second move is to start looking at options for the 370-410-seat segment.  The history of this market clearly teaches us that the biggest twinjet has a strong advantage, and the 777-9X looks set to be a category killer.  Airbus needs to examine its options, considering whether an A350-1000 stretch (a -1100) is technically feasible.
http://www.airbus.com/galleries/photo-gallery/.   ©Airbus

Clean sheet-of-paper large twinjet.
If this stretch isn’t possible, the company needs to consider a clean sheet of paper large twinjet, perhaps a notch larger than the 777-9X.  As part of this planning, Airbus needs to abandon any hope that the A380neo concept has a future. 
http://www.airbus.com/galleries/photo-gallery/.   ©Airbus

Catastrophe foreseen.
“Today was bad for Airbus, yet not catastrophic.  But failure to take action in this segment of the market could set Airbus up for future disasters that add up to catastrophe.”

Based on the article “Airbus's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad 
Day...And What They Can Do To Make It Better” published in Forbes.


  1. This is the point of view of Boeing. But only a few other opinions:

    A330 is a reasonable answer for Boeing’s two families - there are also an extra time for A350-8. Schedule? A320neo 2013-15, so A330neo 2016-18.

    A380neo is more important and prestigious. For future and expanding program. 2019-21? A380-9 will be back?

    A350-1000 will be „a B777-3 killer” (not B777X). In order to compete with B777X is needed a few frames stretch. A350neo 2022-24?

  2. Emirates said, they still may order A350s in the near future. They want a reliable airplane.

    They haven't ordered different (boeings) airplanes so far as a replacement. And cancellations also might affect Boeing one day...

  3. I also agree that is from Boeing's POV.

    I also agree that the A350-1000 will be the best choice as the 777-300ER replacement. The 9X will be in a category of its own for a market that is yet to be proven to exist outside of the middle east and Asia.

    The 8X will be a heavy niche aircraft like the 200-LR and the A345 thus irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. There was also a plan for an ultra -ong range A350-900 using the -1000 wings, engines and under carriage allowing for 9500nm. Airbus may still launch it as their ultra-long range aircraft if the market is right for missions where the 8X would be to big and heavy.

    The A330 Neo should be very successful. The A350-800 may or may not.