Boeing’s Charleston land buy is bad news for Washington State

Update, Dec. 21: A story on this topic:

Charleston Post-Courier: a much longer, in-depth piece than its original report linked below.

Original Post:

Boeing has agreed to buy a lot more land in Charleston (SC) to expand its plant there over time.

Charleston 1

Charleston 2

Illustrations via Charleston Post-Courier.

We believe Boeing is preparing to eventually locate new airplane programs in Charleston rather than Washington State. This would be the successor to the 737 MAX, potentially the 777X and we would not be at all surprised to see the 787-10 assembled in Charleston.

The contentious SPEEA negotiations aren’t going to help matters. We also believe Washington’s strict environmental laws are a factor, which seem on a track to get stricter with the move to clean up Puget Sound to save the fish.

Our estimated timeline is over the next 10-20 years (sooner if the 787-10 is placed in Charleston).

This is entirely our assessment–we can’t say we know anything about this. But the old adage is that if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, then it’s a duck. And this sure quacks to us.

Odds and Ends: CSeries picks up; Air Canada’s Rouge; A380 v 747-8; Allegiant Air

CSeries picks up: Bombardier is ending the year with some upbeat news for the CSeries. First was an LOI for up to 30 CS100s from an unidentified customer. Next the wings arrived to be assembled onto FTV1 (Flight Test Vehicle 1). Then today it converted the MOU for 10+10 CSeries from AirBaltic to a firm order. BBD now has more than 350 orders and commitments for the aircraft. Update: Aviation Week has this item comparing early CSeries orders and E-Jet orders. CSeries stacks up pretty well.

Air Canada’s Rouge: Aspire Aviation has this column on the future of Rouge and the creation of WestJet’s Encore airline, and the impact on Canada’s aviation.

A380 v 747-8: AirInsight has this analysis comparing the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8. We discussed portions of this earlier, when the ad wars broke out between Airbus and Boeing, but this is more expansive.

Allegiant Air Acquires A320s: Allegiant Air is on a shopping spree again, this time acquiring nine Airbus A320s from Iberia Airlines.

American to decide on merger Jan. 9, Bloomberg says

American Airlines’ Board of Directors will meet on Jan. 9 to decide whether to merge with US Airways, according to this report by Bloomberg News.

The outcome, of course, has ramifications beyond those employees of both airlines. These include, in no particular order:

  • A shift in the oneworld and Star Alliances. US Airways is part of the Star Alliance, though its route system is hardly a key part. Since US says it will adopt the AA name, look for US to move into the oneworld alliance. An AA-US merger strengthens AA’s East Coast reach, but other than this we’ve not seen a great deal of routes that US brings to AA. On the other hand, AA brings a lot more to US.
  • Airports will see revisions to facilities as both airlines consolidate.
  • Some cities will see reductions in service as duplications are eliminated.
  • If the US management is the one that emerges in charge (as we hope), then this will be a major plus for the future of the new American Airlines. If AA’s management is the survivor, we’re much less sanguine about AA’s future.
  • Airbus and Boeing should both benefit. Before bankruptcy, American placed orders for hundreds of current generation A320s and 737NGs as well as the re-engined models. US has a large order for A320ceos and A330s, but no A320neos. American’s fleet replacement need is so large that it probably needs both single-aisle OEMs. We could see some adjustment in the orders, which never were firmed up, and taking into account the US outstanding orders. But we’d be surprised if the new AA were to cancel entirely American’s Airbus or Boeing orders.
  • Nor do we see US canceling its A350 orders in favor of AA’s outstanding 777 order. US is one of the remaining A350-800 customers and this might be upgraded to the A350-900. But we think there was a fair chance of this happening anyway.