A340-500/600 and B777-200X/-300X

Date:         17 Dec 97 03:41:20 
From:         Chuanga@cris.com (H Andrew Chuang)
Organization: Concentric Internet Services
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[Karl, I didn't keep a copy of my original post.  I'm rewriting one.]

This has not been a good year for Boeing: EU's objection of the Boeing/MD
merger, production delays due to parts shortage, negative publicity due
to the on-going TW800 investigation and hearings, etc.  Now, Boeing is
falling behind Airbus in launching the ultra-long-range aircraft.

When Boeing failed to launch the B747X program, Boeing said airline
customers were more interested in ultra-long-range aircraft like the
B777-200X than ultra-high-capacity planes.  Boeing was (and probably
still is) convinced that the B777-200X will transform the trans-Pacific
market like the B767 did for the trans-Atlantic market.  However, if
you look at Airbus's customer list for the new A340-500 and -600, only
EVA Air (BR) and Air Canada (AC) have made commitments for the -500 with
a total of 8 firm oders (6 for BR and 2 for AC).  Where is the huge
interest in ultra-long-range planes that Boeing has once suggested?

For the ultra-long-range market, I think the A340-500 should be very
competitive with the B777-200X (i.e., if it is launched), becuase some
operators are reluctant to use twin-engine planes for ultra-long-range
operations.  In fact, I think this is the first time Airbus has a
legitimate chance of getting Japan Airlines (JL) to become an Airbus
customer with the A340-500.  Nevertheless, I can think of only two routes
which JL needs an ultra-long-range aircraft, namely, Japan-Brazil and
Japan-South Africa.  For the B747-100/-200-replacement market, I can't
really see the four-engine A340-600 be competitive with the twin-engine
B777-300/-300X in the long run.

A note on engines for the new aircraft: Pratt & Whitney has decided to
compete with Rolls-Royce for powering the new A340 derivatives.  This
should made the A340 a more competitive product.  P&W will also offer
a 102K engine for the proposed B777-200X/-300X.

My understanding is that American Airlines is very interested in the
B777-300X for routes like Dallas-Tokyo and the -200X for routes like
Dallas-Hong Kong.  Thus, I think the -200X/-300X will eventually be
launched; it's just a matter of time.  After all, -200X/-300X will
still have a two-year lead over the Airbus's new duo if Boeing can
launch them before next summer.