Re: airliner market analysis [long]

Date:         29 Mar 98 23:09:28 
From:         Chuanga@cris.com (H Andrew Chuang)
Organization: Concentric Internet Services
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In article <airliners.1998.502@ohare.Chicago.COM>,
Marc Schaeffer  <marcmsc@cmdnet.lu> wrote:
>H Andrew Chuang wrote:
>> For regional jets, technology and commonality may not be very important.
>
>I have to say that I don't -- fully -- agrre with this one. From a
>maintenance, training and spare parts point of view it would be pretty
>smart to have a certain commonality. Even in the regional jet market.
>The first manufacturer to have a family of a/c will survive the battle.
>I believe that two a/c are not a family (EMB135&145 and CRJ50&70). Three
>should be the right number of members for a family ;)
>
>This is what makes the success of the 737 and the 320 familys in the
>upper segment. (3 and in the near future 4 a/c for each family). Also
>the DC9 had the same strategy to come to it's glory. Of course an a/c
>needs to have other advantages, commonailty isn't everthing.

When one talks about commonality, two things come to mind:

1. flight crew: with vastly different pay scales between pilots for major
   carriers and pilots for regional carriers, cockpit commonality has no
   value to most airline operators at all.

2. spare parts/maintenance: there are plenty examples of cost-conscious
   airlines with mixed fleet of similar planes (e.g., American's A300
   and B767; Cathay's A330/340 and B777) and mixed engines (e.g.,
   Delta's B767 with the CF6 and PW4000 engines; UPS's B757 with the
   RB.211 and PW2000).  Furthermore, with more and more airlines
   outsourcing maintenance work, this should become less and less an
   issue.

Cost is arguably the single biggest issue.  That's why Boeing is trying
to drive the B717 cost down and make it a viable competitor.  However, it
appears Boeing is unable to drive the price down to the target of around
US$20mil per copy.

OTOH, Airbus has not been able to reach to a concensus with the Chinese
partner on the AE31X project.  Boeing's acquisition of McDonnell Douglas
suddenly provided Boeing with an entry into the 100-seat market.  Instead
of Boeing wondering whether they should design something to compete with
the AE31X, the table is now turned and Airbus has to think seriously and
promptly whether they can afford to let Boeing have a sizable lead, at
least, chronologically.

The A319M5, IMHO, is a very poor stop gap for Airbus.  First of all,
the plane was optimized for a much longer range and much higher capacity
than the intended market of the A319M5.  The plane must have extremely
unattractive seat-mile cost.  The A319 itself is probably already has
a relatively high unit operating cost, that's why out of more than 1,500
A320 family aircraft ordered, less than 250 are for the baby bus.
Historically, shortened planes have never sold well (the A330-200 may be
an exception).  Just look at the B737.  The B737-100 had a terrible
sales record.  Similarly, only about 400 of nearly 2,000
second-generation B737s ordered are for the shortest B737-500.  Also, the
B737-600 is not doing well.  It is commonly known that SAS's 41 -600s
(nearly half of the -600 ordered) was heavily discounted.  (Ironically,
it was the SAS -600 order that practically took away any credibility of
the MD-95 program for which SAS was originally anticipated to be the
launch customer.  Now, Boeing has to rebuild the credibility of the
MD95/B717 program.)

Secondly, how can Airbus drive the cost of the A319M5 low enough to be
able to compete with the B717 or RJ100?  Currently, there are four
engines (the BR715, PW6000, CFM56, and V2500) competing to power the
new plane.  It does not appear any of these engines can meet both time
and cost constraints.  Thus, Airbus might have a hard time picking the
right powerplant.

Thirdly, Boeing has the Long Beach production line for a dedicated B717
production.  Airbus has a surprisingly large backlog of nearly 900
A319/20/21s (almost as many as the B737 backlog).  Airbus will have to
increase the A319/20/21 production rate significantly (from the current
rate of 18-20 planes per month) in order to cope with the burgeoning
backlog.  Will Airbus be able to accommodate additional production if the
A319M5 is launched?  (Nevertheless, neither the A319 nor A321, which
are assembled in Hamburg, is a big seller.  So, perhaps Hamburg has the
capacity to handle the A319M5.)

Lastly, if Airbus does launch the A319M5, the Chinese will be extremely
upset.  Due to a deteriorating relationship between China and the US
between 1995 and 96, Airbus has made significant strides in the Chinese
market.  The launch of the A319M5 will no doubt hinder future Airbus
campaigns in China.  I'm not sure a potential of selling no more than
500 A319M5s is worth the risk of being shut out of the Chinese market
in the future.

>> The 767 has always be strong in the US and relatively weak in Asia and
>> Europe.  The 764 will not change this trend.  Nevertheless, if AA also
>> orders the 764, the 764 will have a very solid customer base, even though
>> they are all US customers.
>
>What is your opinion, will the 763 be replaced mainly with the 764 or
>the 332 ?

Most of the 767-300 are still relatively new.  Replacement market is
probably insignificant at this time.  The 767-400 and A330-200 are
currently targeting the DC-10 and L-1011 replacement market, since some
operators do not need the bigger B777 or A330.  Nevertheless, I think
the A330-200 should have a slight edge over the B767-400 in the long
run.