It took me a moment pondering the wisdom of the Qatar move where it replaced the 787-8 with its A350-900 on the Frankfurt route and then the light came on. Qatar wants to know how the two types compare on same routes, distances and operation and who will come out on top? However, it should compare the 787-9 with the A350-900 for a comparable assessment. But it can factor down the 787-8 efficiency on this route, since the 787-9 is a little more efficient in service. This inservice comparison is important for Qatar for its operational decision-making and future ordering. How does the A350-900 compare in the operational expense category with the 787-8? They have years worth of seasonal data on the 787-8 and now the A350-900 will be gathering its seasonal data for Qatar.
Of course this will lead into another blog later when comparing products, so keep watching for comparables after two years in operation or until the end of 2016. The next tier of testing is situational efficiency for the 787-8 where it will be placed on marginal Qatar routes and determine if it makes a real time difference on those routes. Its no slight to Boeing pulling the 787-8 off the Frankfurt Route since Qatar has immense information for the 787-8 for that particular route. It becomes important how the aircraft affects Qatar's profits on roads less travelled. I believe they will be pleasantly impressed with this next level of real time data, as they travel the secondary markets with the 787-8. They will make money and fill the airplanes with Qatar's style and reputation for excellence. Airbus has a stout order book for Qatar with 80 of its type all together. Boeing has less than half that many in total ordered with 30 units. It stands to reason for Qatar routing the 43 each A350-900 and 37 each A350-1000 on its premium routes out of its abundant Airbus order book.
Even though Boeing placed and delivered early its first 20 aircraft, Qatar needs to know what it has done after ordering the Airbus ships in abundance. Qatar is playing the part of divide orders and conquer pricing. They won't be ordering the 787 for awhile. Hence, Airbus aircraft assignment will be relinquished to its most plush routes and Boeing will go on its utility 2nd tier routes. The Comparison of aircraft remains important for Boeing as more A350 fill the roster. I am not holding my breath on a reversal of strategy from Qatar. It would take a calamity on their part with Airbus to change fortunes with its order book. Airbus is at center stage with Qatar over the next five years as Boeing's 787 continues the ironing out of the 787 family. Competitors to Qatar will influence a Qatar change of heart more than experiencing Airbus' Faults. The long haul of operation will define both aircraft where the A350 has just started its shakedown journey towards refinement.