Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The 787-8 Make-over Is Needed

Having Delta eliminate its 787-8 legacy order held over from the Northwest Airlines merger, signals a great need for Boeing to reinvent the model, or just let it tumble into obscurity. It only has about ninety 787-8's remaining to be delivered, even if all of its customers have the resources currently in place for a purchase. The problem still remains that none is ordering the 787-8 except a few customers here and there that have placed an order like Tanzania Airlines last December. At best, the analyst will remark, "Tanzania is in trouble and could cancel orders when the time comes to deliver the 787-8".

  • There lies the problem beneath the order numbers. Boeing has reached the back side of its 787-8 order book and it needs rejuvenation of new orders at a steady pace. Therefore, it needs something outstanding coming from the 787 program that is not yet tapped for potential customers.

  • Another problem is financial resources spent on a model without knowing whether it will make a difference in the market place. The upgrades need to be transferable to the 787-9 or 787-10. When any upgrade would not interfere with motivations for buying its family of aircraft. The answer for the 787-8 sales quandary is found with several customers and how they use its 787-8's. 

Jetstar and American Airlines have immensely invested in the 787-8's and should be consulted on how it will be moved to further buy the 787-8. Boeing is working on that answer already. Jetstar ordered 11 and it now has 11 in its inventory. American ordered 20 and has received 17 with only three more to go. The key with these exampled customers is they are both a continental based 787-8 customer and knowing what would move to ordering more 787-8's is important.

  • Another query is a further investigation coming from the 787-300 data before it was canceled. Boeing had long prepared this statistical data and it knows the market response for the 787-300 when it was still under consideration. 

The 787-800 appears to have painted itself into a corner with a dying interest with its market fit. There are no life lines on the horizon. The 787-8 has become a tap hole going into a new model and technology. This brings me to the last bullet point.

  • The time has come to build the tween-er not from a 787-300 platform but from the 787-8 platform. There would be two classes of 787-8's in play having the same body and similar passenger capacity. The passenger capacity would not exceed 240 on the Continental (C Class) and about 250 with a Long Range Class (LR).

Boeing is keen on using what it has already paid for at this time. They could sell five hundred C models spanning one continent limited to 5,000 miles. The upgrades come from cabin enhancements. An eight across 30 row seat map would give the passenger room. Additionally Boeing should sell another two hundred 787-8LR's seating up to, but not ever exceeding 290 passengers. The renewal must vitalize the 787-8 model concept with minimal investment and more importantly not change a “build process” costing billions. The other problem is finding a launch customer buying two variations for its fleet, and that point at this time is what is stopping Boeing. The Orient is an obvious customer region for having a launch customer.

The "Build it and they will come", axiom does not apply in this case. Boeing must reignite market heat offering a 787-8 combination and find a new Middle of the Market A-321-NEO killer at the same time. They must find customers who will launch it!

If Boeing doesn't find customers for the concept enhancements then it will retire the 787-8 by the end of this decade from starved out sales.