TAKING ADVANTAGE OF BOEING CRISIS, Airbus, at the opening of Paris Air Show, Monday, launched a long-range version of its A321 neo jet – A321XLR, as a competing brand, and plan to bridge the aircraft market. Airbus said it will map new routes for airlines with smaller planes of its range, and take share of the margin of Boeing market. Airbus is Europe’s rival of US Boeing.
Airplanes market competition between Airbus and Boeing dates back to 1990s. Both firms have had dominant or exclusive control over the aircraft industry. From 2007 to 2016, Airbus received 9,985 orders and delivered 5,644 airplanes. Boeing received 8,978 orders and delivered 5,718 airplanes. The close-range orders and deliveries by both firms – within this 10-year period – showed stiff competition. And it is not abating.
Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Salesman, at the launch of Airbus A321SLR said: “We can fly from north-eastern Asia into south Asia, from the Middle East to Bali or from Japan deep into Australia, and so on. It is therefore the lowest-risk investment for airlines on these kinds of routes”.
Airbus first customer for the new aircraft is Air Lease Corporation, a leasing company. It is already on cue for 27 A321XLR, part of 100 Airbus planes agreement. Air Lease could announce close to 200 orders for the new model at the Air Show, according to observers. JetBlue Airways Corp and U.S-based private equity firm Indigo Partners could be among the buyers.
Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing CEO, Sunday, before the Paris Air Show commenced, said Airbus A321XLR would only “scratch an edge” of the market segment targeted by the NMA. He added that Boeing would be expected to announce orders for wide-body jets. He said the main focus at the event would be safety. His executives would take turns to apologize for 737 MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia..
Boeing’s executives first engagement when Paris Air Show took-off, was taking turns to apologize for the loss of life in the two 737 MAX crashes. The Finance, Jetliners, Defense and Services Executives, joined voices in further apologizing for the 346 deaths recorded in the crashes. They pledged to apply the lessons from the crisis to future planes.
Kevin McAllister, Boeing Commercial Airplanes boss told journalist at a press briefing that: “This is the most trying of times”. He also admitted: “But without a doubt this is a pivotal moment for all of us. It’s a time to capture learnings. It’s a time to be introspective. And it’s a time for us to make sure accidents like this never happen again.”
Airlines analysts said the aerospace industry’s biggest annual event, which equates with Britain’s Farnborough Air Show, is traditionally a slugging match between Airbus and Boeing sales teams, in the $150 billion a year commercial aircraft market.
This year’s gathering, according analysts, is expected to be relatively subdued, due to sluggish economies, trade tensions and geo-political uncertainties upsetting airlines. Late on Sunday, German Lufthansa, issued profit warning on the airlines, while big airplanes manufacturers – Airbus and Boeing are grappling with problems. Boeing is struggling to return 737MAX to service, while Airbus is reported to be involved in lingering corruption scandal.
According to experts, between 400 to 800 commercial aircraft orders and commitments could be expected at the show, compared with 959 at Farnborough last year. Though, they said it could be difficult to identify truly new business against firmed up commitment and swapped model.
Airbus A321XLR will be the longest-range narrow-body jetliner. It arrived when airlines are looking forward to maximise the flexibility of more fuel-efficient, single-aisle aircraft. The A321XLR also fits into a range category targeted by the possible NMA mid-market, twin-aisle jet under review by Boeing.
It ranges up to 4,700 nautical miles, about 15 percent, more than the previous A321LR. It will overtake out-of-production Boeing 757, and prods it into the long-jump category occupied by costlier wide-body jets. John Plueger, Air Lease Chief Executive Officer, said on the new Airbus: “It does provide a very effective airplane for many of the same routes as the NMA, and it does so many years earlier”.
Debate is already on, whether passengers will enjoy flying longer distances in medium-haul planes, and at what cost. In particular, the rise of the single-aisle, long-distance jet involves revisiting years of industry marketing about the benefit of roomier cabins to counter jet lag on long trips. Airbus has not indicated the price for the A321XLR., but the current A321neo has is listed for $129.5 million.
McAllister said he was “staying very close to the situation” with the GE9X engine, and that it was premature to make any predictions on delays for the 777X programme. Boeing is targeting a maiden flight this year and 2020 entry into service, but Gulf airline Emirates has said it expects the first plane in June of that year. Flight tests often take more than a year.