Airbus v Boeing: another round of what the customers tell us

With the recent spat upping the media war between Airbus and Boeing over whose airplanes offer better economics, we’ve been once more asking customers what their analyses conclude.

Nothing has changed from our earlier conversations.

As recent media and advertising wars relate, Boeing claims the 737-8 MAX is 8% better on a per-seat basis than the A320neo. Airbus claims its aircraft is 3.3% better than the MAX-8. The differences come in the assumptions of fuel burn, with Airbus claiming the neo will save more fuel than the MAX. Boeing claims the MAX, being lighter, will match the fuel savings and with 12 more seats, this is how Boeing comes up with the 8% figure.

Boeing also claims the 737’s maintenance costs are 24%-27% better than the A320, a figure which drives Airbus officials right up the wall as ludicrous. (We’ve written several times why we dismiss the validity of the Boeing claim as relying on old data on the one hand and data that can be manipulated on the other.)

In the last 10 days we have had conversations once more with customers and potential customers who have analyzed data from Airbus and Boeing and reached their own conclusions. These are additional customers to those we’ve talked with previously, thus adding to the list and data points.

The conclusions are the same:

  • The A320neo and the 737-8 MAX are about equal in economics, with Boeing retaining a slight edge on a per-seat basis, but nothing like the 8% it claims. Boeing’s maintenance claims are laughed off. Commercial terms therefore become the deciding factor.
  • The A321neo has the advantage over the 737-9 MAX, in part for the same reason the 8 MAX has the advantage: the neo has more seats than the MAX.
  • The A321neo is a closer replacement for the Boeing 757 than the 9 MAX, although neither is a true replacement.