Date: 17 Dec 97 03:41:20 From: Chuanga@cris.com (H Andrew Chuang) Organization: Concentric Internet Services Followups: 1 2 3
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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.