Re: Boeing cancels 767-500X/600X?

Date:         30 Jan 97 00:36:23 
From:         faurecm@halcyon.com (C. Marin Faure)
Organization: Northwest Nexus Inc.
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Followups:    1 2
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In article <airliners.1997.276@ohare.Chicago.COM>,
nospam@wagner.spc.videotron.ca wrote:

> Will the [temporary] pull-out of the extra large 747s by Boeing impact
> Airbus positively with regards to its equivalent A3XX project ?
>
> Is the market for such planes big enough for only one airplane at this
> time, or is it even too small for that ?
>
> I do not wish to talk about financing of such a project, just about
> market potential.
>
> If the market currently does not exist, will it ever ? If so, when ?

A number of years ago, the majority of planes flying the Atlantic were
747s.  That's what everyone seemed to want at the time, a high-capacity
airplane.  Today, the majority of airplanes flying the Atlantic are lower
capacity twins, 767s, 777's, A-310s, etc.  What has happened in Europe and
the Americas has been a shift to travellers wanting a greater frequency of
flights to meet their own business or vacation schedules.  This has led
the airlines to move away from a few flights with big airplanes to a lot
of flights with smaller airplanes.

While some people in Asia still see a need for planes even larger than the
747-400, industry studies and forecasts are showing that Asia is going
down the same path as Europe adn America did several years ago.  As the
inherent mistrust of twin engine airplanes dies off in Asia, we are seeing
the same thing we saw in Europe; a greater demand for more flights with
more efficient (profitable) airplanes.  Already, many Asian airlines are
purchasing greater numbers of 767s, 777s, 757s, A-330s, and A-310s, than
high-capacity 747-400s.  The feeling among analysts (but who says they're
always right) is that the real airplane market in Asia will be the medium
capacity twins.

One of the strongest factors that currently supports the need for
airplanes with a greater capacity than the 747-400 is airport congestion
and environmental concerns.  Putting one airplane at the gate instead of
two reduces noise, pollution, and airport congestion (not necessarily
inside the terminal, but certainly in the air and on the ramp).  But until
environmental concerns outweigh the importance of greater profits, this
factor alone will not be enough to warrant the development of
very-high-capacity airplanes.

Will the market ever exist?  Impossible to say, but if the trend in air
travel growth continues, there probably will be a market for a
people-mover larger than the 747-400.  As I said, there are a few airlines
who would buy these airplanes today.  They obviously feel they could fill
them up.  But right now, there are simply not enough airlines who
definitely feel they could make money with these planes to cover the cost
of their development and subsequently, their staggering purchase and
operational costs.

One thing you can count on, however, is that if a true market for these
planes emerges, Boeing will have a plane to meet it.

C. Marin Faure
  author, Flying A Floatplane