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More Eurowoes

I haven't previously commented much about it, but it's been clear for a while that after years of losing market share to them, Boeing now has Airbus on the ropes, and even Der Spiegel is admitting it now. I think that the 380 will turn out to be a disaster for them. Of course, Boeing has to watch their back, as some of the regional jet manufacturers, like Bombardier and Embraer start grabbing market share from their smaller planes for point to point. That's a good thing, of course, since it will restore some competition to the market that was lost when Lockheed got out of the commercial business and Boeing bought McDonnell Douglas.

Posted by Rand Simberg at June 11, 2005 06:13 AM
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Boeing vs. Airbus
Excerpt: I knew that Airbus had been chipping away at Boeing's longtime dominance in the world aircraft market, but I hadn't heard that Boeing has since rallied strongly and has put "Airbus on the ropes". From Der Spiegel: While Boeing is...
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Tracked: June 14, 2005 01:59 AM

That's an interesting article and it contains some new information. But it also has some mistakes or misrepresentations.

First, it is not the A400 military transport that Airbus wants to sell as a tanker, it is a modified commercial transport. The House provision has not passed yet, and it is typically protectionist legislation by a Boeing ally. Finally, it is not clear that the USAF is going to buy ANY tankers in the near future, so the whole thing may be moot. The KH-135s will not wear out for another 35 years. They don't require replacement now.

The article is also somewhat misleading about the A350 which is competing against the 787. It states that it is merely a modified version of an existing airplane. That's not really true. Initially, it was going to be this, but Airbus got such negative reaction that they decided to build a substantially new airplane. There was an amazing article in Aviation Week a few weeks ago where an Airbus official bragged about what a great airplane the A350 was. But as the article noted, Airbus was saying the exact same thing only a couple of months before about their previous version of the A350, which they suddenly decided to abandon.

In fact, Airbus officials have gotten into some nasty habits lately, trash-talking about Boeing's products in public and then having to eat some of their words. They also made a bad mistake after recently losing an order for Air India--they alleged that the decision to choose Boeing aircraft was corrupt. That's a great way to seriously alienate potential customers, by calling them dishonest when they choose your competitor's airplane.

There has been some speculation--and this article touches on it--that Airbus officials have recently been rattled by Boeing's new strategy of going after longtime Airbus customers. Traditionally both companies tended to sell to the same customers. But recently Boeing has been aggressively targeting Airbus' traditional customer base.

The big revelation in the article is that the A380 delays are due to airframe production problems. When the delays were first announced, the rumors were that it was due to the unique configurations of specific aircraft. In other words, they blamed it on carpeting and lighting and things like that. Now they're blaming it on wings and parts not fitting together. That's much more serious.

Finally, what the article does not mention is that the weak dollar has hurt Airbus a bit. Most of these big transactions are done in dollars, and it now requires more dollars to buy an A380 than it did a couple of years ago.

Posted by William Berger at June 11, 2005 09:19 AM

I remember an AV week article from some years ago when the A380 was just a gleem in Airbus's eye. They were hitting the government up to assure the funding and some officials were pointing out that Boeing had not come up with any new jumbos since the 747 and hadn't planned any either. The response from Airbus was that Boeing was certainly being cagey and that they would undoubtedly be announcing a new jumbo design soon. Right now the name "Brabazon" must be haunting a few people.

Posted by K at June 11, 2005 08:08 PM

Boeing has quietly proposed the "747 Advanced" to some of its existing 747 customers. Aviation Week has had almost nothing on this proposal, but a British magazine, Airliner World, has produced a special issue called "Boeing 747" that includes quite a bit of information on this version. It would be a little longer than the 747-400, have different wingtips, new engines, and utilize some upper cabin space that is currently not utilized (one concept is to fit beds up there for long flights--passengers would purchase a seat/bed combination and could take a nap). There is also a freighter version.

It is unclear if they will find any customers.

Posted by William Berger at June 12, 2005 07:41 AM

William mentioned the weak dollar, I can also mention what I read in another article. Leahy (master Airbus salesman) was sick on the Spring and Boeing salesmen now have leeway to do price cuts on the spot.

So yeah, Airbus really is in the shitter now. Well, sort of. Airbus had a 628 million operating profit in Q1 2005 (that is sensibly $762 million USD for you gents). A380 development is coming to a close.

Airbus seems to be in the middle of a vicious political infight right now. It is way beyond the simplistic "French vs Germans" arguments I have heard here. I still remember the bad blood when Philippe Camus was removed by Nol Forgeard. That was nothing less than a coup d'etat.

The sh*t started hitting the fan here.

Posted by Gojira at June 12, 2005 10:27 AM

Well, the BBC certainly (perhaps predictably) seems to think otherwise. In an article today about the Paris Air Show, they had this to say:

"Airbus has overtaken Boeing as the world's largest maker of commercial aeroplanes and the US firm has made no secret of is displeasure at losing its crown.

Boeing's plans to regain the top spot were dealt a further blow on Monday when Qatar Airways said it was choosing Airbus's mid-sized jet over those of its US rival."

Posted by Eric at June 13, 2005 08:59 AM

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