Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Orders Building For The 787 Is Causing Airbus Some Worry

Recent ordering by EVA air and Norwegian Air for both the 787-9 and 787-10 should have caused Airbus marketing a recoil. In fact the low numbers of A350 orders of only a minus 29 A350 in the last two years during 2014-2015 should worry Airbus, as the market game is gaining tension for some of its executives in France. Looking at the Airbus' "-29 net order for 2014- 2015" is a strong reflection something is not adding up for Airbus. They just lost a competition with an EVA Air purchase straight across the Board against Boeing's 787-10 order for 24. 

Even though Norwegian Air is already a staunch Boeing wide body customer, it was expected they would order Boeing going forward for any new 787-9's and they did just that.

However, to the delight of Boeing it was for 19, 787-9's with an option for 10! Using the new math a fourth grader would determine 43 wide bodies are on the Boeing production docket from these two customers just mentioned. Airbus has only three added and 32 subtracted for its show in almost 24 months of pushing and shoving its customers towards buying the A350. 

Lest we not forget the 26, 787's net orders already for 2015, it brings the Boeing tally in late October to include 69 787 wide bodies ordered as compared with the -29 A350s net ordered in the last two years. Combining Boeing 2014 (41 net) with 2015 (69 tally), as it currently stands, it will total 110 787's during the two year period, as opposed to the Airbus -29 sinking sales with the A350 during the same time period! Either Airbus has run out of steam on its A350, or Boeing has figured out they have a pretty good product which may be better than what Airbus is pushing.

Boeing spent millions on market analysis as did Airbus. Boeing stuck to its guns on a 7,500 mile 787-10 where Airbus made its A350-900 an extended range route machine comparable to the 787-9 range. Key factors stalling the A350 offering as listed below.

  • One hundred and forty 787 production units a year for Boeing shrinks Backlog immediately
  • Bang for the Buck value on the 787 family is greater than the A350
  • The A350 is five years away from reaching production capacity nearing Boeing's
  • Boeing can sell 400 more 787 in the next five years while keeping the backlog equal to Airbus'.
  • Airbus is done with large orders greater than 10 at a time going into the future.
  • Boeing has more large orders coming, greater than 10, with the 787-family
  • Fleet expansions comes from 787 operational leveraging (Norwegian Air is the Example) fuels the sales.
None of these factors mention efficiency or aircraft dynamics, and only address market positioning and customer opportunity. However, if you rely on the tale of the tape with side-by-side comparisons, Boeing has bracketed Airbus into a corner with its 777X family, a grave concern for Airbus as the A350-1000 is orphaned by the 777X proposition. The A350-9 becomes a stand-alone answer to all of the 787 family of aircraft. Airbus is faced with having customers fly the A350-900 within a region experiencing risk for diminishing load factors, where a 787-8 could do the mission better with an increased load factor for the customer. 

The 787-9 meets and beats the A350-900 in efficiency for long legged routes of 8,000 miles. The A350-900 is too much airplane for reflexing on any operational changes encountered when a competing airline has all three Boeing 787 types, where they will slide around a deploying roster of 787 according to its routing distances, needs, and actual market load factors. The A350-900 becomes orphaned as a  tool for fleet requirements not adjusting to what is needed.  It becomes an over built aircraft where someone like EVA air orders 24 787-10's just fitting within its operational dichotomy. The A330 NEO is not the answer on the cheap for beating the 787.

The 787-8 is slightly over built for regional markets of under 3,000 miles, but can adequately do the job well, however in the A350-900 case, it has to go big or not at all, just as it was designed by Airbus pomp. Airbus keeps building too much airplane for any customer flexibility.  


A two year lull in Airbus A350 orders is a grave worry. An Airbus A380 order would be surprise. The A320NEO is going very well, but the profit margin is thin, where Airbus risks tumbling into becoming solely a single aisle company within ten years.