20 September 2014

How Airbus is supposed to compete with Boeing in the widebody market (1/2)

In the mentioned article published by Cranky Flier, there is a good analysis and comparison between Airbus and Boeing´s strategy in their portfolios for the long haul, widebody market.

Both companies have created 3 aircraft families that are expected to serve every airline’s needs. But from a capacity perspective, it looks like Boeing has the more comprehensive option. Airbus might still need some work.

Let’s take a look at how these are supposed to compete with each other.

Source: © Airbus

787 vs A330neo
At the smallest end of the widebody market, we have both the 787 and the A330neo. Originally, Airbus was going to try to use the A350-800 to compete with the smaller 787, but it became very clear that Airbus wasn’t getting a lot of orders and had no interest in making that airplane.

To Cranky Flier, this move makes sense for Airbus, because now it can go ahead and kill the A350-800. It’s still not perfectly competitive, however. The tradeoff has to be that an A330neo will cost less than the 787 –a brand new, slightly more efficient airplane-  to make it more attractive.

Source: © Airbus

But there’s one other issue for Airbus. The A330-900neo is just about the same capacity as the A350-900. Why have that kind of overlap? The tradeoff here is between price and range. The A330-900neo costs less than the A350-900 but its range is also a short 6,200nm (nautical miles) versus the A350’s 7,750nm. If range matters, you’ll buy the A350. If price matters, you’ll buy the A330. And of course, it also depends on what other needs you have, whether going bigger or smaller, to see which family fits best.

Source: © Airbus

787 vs A350
When the A350 launched, the -900 was bigger than Boeing’s biggest planned 787 (the -9). And then Airbus had the A350-1000 which was going to push into the 350+ seat range. Boeing had a gap, but it wanted to protect sales of the 777, so it wouldn’t grow the 787. Boeing has finally given into pressure and last year committed to the 787-10. At 323 seats, it’s still smaller than the A350, but that’s because Boeing has a bigger airplane that can compete with the A350 on the upper end.

This does hurt Boeing’s chances of selling the smaller 777-200s that exist today, but let’s face it. Those are pretty much dead anyway. Both Airbus and Boeing have good families here, but Airbus serves a slightly larger market.

Based on the article “Airbus and Boeing Finalize Their Future Widebody Plans and One Looks Better Than the Other” published in Cranky Flier


  1. I think Boeing will have a problem competing against the A350-900 and A350-1000. The 787-10 lacks the payload range to do Asia with a usefull cargo load (ask Lufthansa), the 777-8 has an empty weight that is about 25-30 tonnes (!!) higher then the A350-1000, with all costs associated.

  2. False. Your LH example is one. Ask UA SQ and soon to be EK how they feel about the 787-10. Perhaps you should mention the fact that Airbus failed with the A358 and had to prop up the A330 into a NEO to not let Boeing take over the 240-300 seat market. Perhaps you should mention why Airbus has no answer for the 777-8/9. Expect the A380 to end by 2025-30. If it can't secure orders from new customers and is barely getting orders from existing customers, it's future is bleak. You conveniently didn't mention hoe the A330 NEO is mostly bought by lessors because it's a 10 year plane sold on the merits of 1) availability 2) price. The NEO also has no increase in capacity from its predecessor. That's convenient.Tell us how you expect Airbus to complete with the Boeing 787-9, 787-10 and the 777-9. We'll wait.

  3. Jet fuel 777-er, do you feel SQ will use the 787-10 to Europe, or UA to Asia? The A330Neo (change of topic btw) is nothing special, just continuing to build an excellent popular aircraft at high rates. Why stop? The A380 (another change of topic) will have the sales and margins of a popular efficient HQ aircraft without competition I guess..

    1. You're missing the point. Who cares if UA flies the 787-10 to Jupiter or SQ flies the 787-10 to Siberia? It's not up to you nor I to see how the planes they purchase with THEIR money are flown. Airlines place trust in Boeing (Airbus as well) to deliver a product that will do as described. They speak with their wallets, not with anything else, as I putting money where your mouth is. Do you understand?

  4. You asked how I expect Airbus to complete with the Boeing 787-9, 787-10 and the 777-9. I give answers & then you become personal and aggressive, what's that?

    Where / how airlines are able to fly their aircraft determines their success. At least thats where I come from..

    I expect the A330 and A350 to continue selling well, because the 787 is the Dreamliner and sold out, the 787-10 will be payload restricted and the 777-9 at least 7 years away and heavy.

    Airlines like Virgin, Delta and the Chinese could switch from the 787 over to the A330. Or have already for some reason.

  5. Nothing personal here. Your opinion about airlines is just that. You can't use how airlines fly 787-10's in Asia as a base on how well the aircraft will perform. For example, SQ will fly the 787-10 in and around Asia yet it is payload restricted. Do you think they know that? Yes. Do you think they care? Yes. Yet they still bought them. The 777-9 weighs A LOT more than the 77W and the A351 yet it still sells and sells well. CX bought some. So did LH. So did NH. Do you think they know this? Of course they do.

    Stop believing the A380 is as awesome as you make it to be. Its sales are stagnant. LH and AF just came out and said that they don't want anymore. Ask mh, tg and BA if they want anymore. Hint. They don't. And let's not get into the second hand A380 market.

    My point is its okay to be an Airbus cheerleader but you can't always cry about the 777x being fat and heavy or how the Chinese, Delta or Virgin may switch from 787's to A330s. Hint. They're not. Virgin more than likely won't take delivery of the A380 it ordered since Richard Anderson is owns 49% of Virgin and has a lot of say.

  6. Chinese, Delta or Virgin may switch from 787's to A330s. Hint. They're not

    They ordered / introduced A330s years after they ordered / deferred 787s. For the same routes. Richard Anderson at some point will have to replace his current transpac VLA fleet to booming Asia. Just like UA. Because there no competition, they tell Airbus they don't really need it, maybe. Negotiation tactic when you have no choice. BA did it for years.

  7. In small and medium wide body segment it is easy to select the competitors:
    B787-8 vs A330-200 (-800neo)
    B787-9 vs A330-300 (-900neo) (Boeing has longer range)
    B787-10 vs A350-900 (Airbus has longer range)
    B777-300ER (-8X) vs A350-1000

    In VLA (400+ pax) segment B777-9X, B748-8I and A380 have their own class.

    The most important question about the VLA is the feature of Great Gulf 3 (the three largest Gulf carriers: Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways as G3).

    Backlog G3 versus rest of the world (as RW) (August, 2014):

    1. B777X – RW = 61 (21% of 286), G3 = 225 (81%)
    2. A380 – RW = 70 (39% of 180), G3 = 110 (61%)
    3. B777-300ER – RW = 181 (76% of 238), G3 = 57 (24%)
    4. A350 – RW = 600 (81% of 742), G3 = 142 (19%)

    The biggest (B777X, A380) are the most dependent (81%, 61%). Who knows their future? Is it possible and cost effective to deliver aircrafts for one, two or three customers?