Odds and Ends: Crowded airplanes; A350 first flight; Air France to firm A350 order

Crowded airplanes: USA Today has an article discussing today’s crowded airplanes. It’s going to get worse. Airbus is offering a configuration for the A380 that has 11 abreast in coach. Boeing says most airlines are now selecting 10 abreast for the 777. Most customers are choosing nine abreast for the 787. Gone are the days when the center seat had good odds of being empty. This is why Bombardier designed its CSeries wit a 19 inch center seat, the widest in the industry.

A350 first flight: Thursday at 10am Toulouse time.

Air France and A350: Several reports indicate Air France will at long last firm up its order for the A350 at the Paris Air Show. It has been held up over maintenance contract issues with Rolls-Royce.

 

47 comments on “Odds and Ends: Crowded airplanes; A350 first flight; Air France to firm A350 order

  1. I think KLM and AF technical divisions have a large scale, deep cooperation with GE and not RR. Obviously they got at a point where Airbus / RR could put some pressure on them. I think AF/KL have valuable early slots and a Boeing 777X is at least 7 years away. Probably a “to be decided no later then ” part of the earlier LOI has come into force. AF/KLM didn’t succeed putting Airbus & GE in bed together.

    • O’Leary is awash in money, isn’t he ;-?

      Then some airlines have planes and FAs that are similarly near EOL.
      funny unions for all, .. capitalistic games that really cost money ;-)

    • Some do, some don’t. Some airlines are extremely profitable.

      IATA says overall industry profit will be around 5% this year.

  2. The article is very interesting. It mentions boarding and overhead bins as shortcomings. This might increase the interest in twin-aisle solutions again, which are proven to be much more efficient and which also offer more overhead bin volume.

    The 11-abreast A380 appears to be rather a concept than a solid offering to airlines. By the standards it would comparable to a 10-abreast B777 of today. It needs to be stressed that the high economy of the B777-300ER is caused by the move of more and more airlines to a 10-abreast economy, something I personally would pay to avoid.

    • Presenting an A380 in eleven abreast seating concept
      could just be a little warning, imho.
      Escalating seatnumbers is not a one player game.

      Bins:
      What I wondered at one time : Is there a divergence in EASA and FAA views
      on certification about pivoting bins?

    • The reason they are going 9, 10 and 11 abreast is to fit more pax on the same size plane. Going twin-aisle in a smaller aircraft goes in totally the opposite direction.

  3. A bit of a disturbing newsflash, Airbus telling SAA publicly to order the A350 or have slots being sold in front of their noses. Maybe in line with AF/KL confirming their order a week before the show.

    http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/saa-urged-to-consider-its-airbus-options-2013-06-04

    It could be Airbus has moved into a “seller” market situation at this moment. Just like Boeing around 2007.

    In my opinion that also could mean new live for the old A330NEO business case. If before year end the XWB backlog has grown into the 2020s, the A350 supply chain is showing signs of fever, hick-ups show up, environmental (noise) restriction increase and 333F demand pick up, the business case quickly becomes green. Regardless of what they said before ;) Bad things happen to good stories ;)

    • It looks like the A350 is set to break the 787 record for the number of aircraft sold before EIS. It is getting close to 700 airframes, more than a year before the first one will be delivered.

      • In view of the extraordinary PR efforts afforded the 787 and
        also brought to bear against the A350 quite noteworthy.

      • Uwe :
        In view of the extraordinary PR efforts afforded the 787 and
        also brought to bear against the A350 quite noteworthy.

        Uwe, where do you read all of this negative A350 press? If the campaign of negativity has been so extraordinary, I don’t know why I have never seen any of it. I can kind of follow along when I read that the A380, or A400 have been unfairly trashed, although I see little of even that outside message boards, but I just have not seen much by way of negative press for the 350. In fact, I think I might enjoy some about now, if you could point me to it.

      • With all due respect to Scott, I don’t buy into the notion that Boeing was effective in casting doubt about the A350. Perhaps it worked in the online world, but with the airlines? I think what Clark and Al-Baker had to say carried much more weight than any negative statements by Boeing.

      • Hopefully they don’t similarly bad deals. The shear numbers are not impressing any more. as some analyst has noted once, these contracts have so many possible exits that they are can vaporize quickly.

  4. Uwe :
    O’Leary is awash in money, isn’t he ;-?
    Then some airlines have planes and FAs that are similarly near EOL.
    funny unions for all, .. capitalistic games that really cost money

    Hehe. Funny experience, the FA on my recent UA LHR-IAD flight in J was a sweet old lady, who I felt compelled to help with getting other people’s luggage up into the bins. In the people mover in IAD I overheard her mention that she had been married for 46 years. Do the math. Yet still she looked fitter than the 772 we flew in! :)

  5. Andreas :
    If all planes are crowded all the time, why do airlines still lose money?

    Because of the impact the LCC business model had on yield. There was a time when the break-even was around 60%. Today it is above 80%.

      • The cost of fuel has nothing to do with this. When the price increases it increases for everyone. Some operators are better at managing fuel hedging than others, but these are short term effects. During a car race a driver cannot use the excuse that he could not go fast enough because it was raining. For the conditions are the same for everyone.

        Over the long term the cost of fuel remains more or less the same for a majority of operators, except possibly in India and a few other countries. And of course the exchange rate at any given time can have a positive or negative impact on the operators of a particular country.

        The LCC business model is responsible for the low yield that we see everywhere. That is for example the reason why the Air France/KLM holding is struggling right now.

        • Err.. I don’t agree. The cost of fuel is now 40% of total cost. It used to be 20%. In the same time as this happened, the BtS ratio has gone up by 10 or 15% as well. Increasing occupancy seems to be the only way for operators to cope with increased fuel cost, since they can not raise prices as much as they would need to otherwise due to the presence of LCCs.

          So I see the two items as very clearly related.

  6. Andreas :
    Increasing occupancy seems to be the only way for operators to cope with increased fuel cost, since they can not raise prices as much as they would need to otherwise due to the presence of LCCs.

    You are making a valid point Andreas. But the LCC business model remains the root cause. Fuel cost is incidental.

    • Not incidental. However, the airlines have been much more effective in dealing with it, in part by charging fuel surcharges, and other additional fees. Baggage fees being another one that used to be unheard of, but now everyone does it. On top of that, airlines have gotten much better at matching demand to capacity, much better than they ever did before. Part of that is indirectly related to fuel. The unused capacity is extra fuel that must be burned and doesn’t generate revenue. Fuel costs have spurred the airlines to do many things that they never did before. One of which is just get overall more efficient.

  7. Matt B :

    Uwe :
    In view of the extraordinary PR efforts afforded the 787 and
    also brought to bear against the A350 quite noteworthy.

    Uwe, where do you read all of this negative A350 press? If the campaign of negativity has been so extraordinary, I don’t know why I have never seen any of it. I can kind of follow along when I read that the A380, or A400 have been unfairly trashed, although I see little of even that outside message boards, but I just have not seen much by way of negative press for the 350. In fact, I think I might enjoy some about now, if you could point me to it.

    If you consider the (unneeded) backlash against the pre-XWB A350 and the again unneeded negativity against the -1000XWB post MTOW bump and 2yr push-back which already led to some people proclaiming the programme dead before orders started to pick up in the last two years, then maybe you can see a bit of what I assume Uwe it talking about?

    • The 350 Mk 1 imbroglio certainly looks different with the advantage of hindsight, but it seems to me it was the result of customer pressure – albeit based on a not entirely real picture of the competing Boeing offering. At any rate, I think Boeing lives daily with the damage to their reputation resulting from the unmet 787 expectations behind that pressure.

      However, with the -1000, I think any time you choose to push-back a launched program, a certain amount of competitor marketing exploitation is probably baked in to the your cost assumptions for that decision. As Mike said above, I think that complaining from the gulf carriers was always more important than any noise coming from Boeing on that front. And obviously, the gulf guys’ squawking always has and still does come with the danger for Boeing that Airbus might still address the voiced concerns and win those orders.

  8. 2C :
    I am still wondering whether another engine manufacturer will step forward with an alternative engine for the A350-800 and A350-900 (P&W GTF ?).

    Pratt & Whitney IS carrying out studies on a GTF engine for the A350-800/900. A formal decision may be made by this year.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-22/pratt-whitney-said-to-study-airbus-a350-engine-to-rival-rolls.html

    Also mentions that Airbus as well as airlines like AF/KLM would welcome the second option if competitive.

  9. Interesting assessment here: http://leehamnews.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/assessing-the-a350-program/

    Quote
    We believe the -1000, at 350 passengers, is a bit small. It compares with the 365 passengers in the Boeing 777-300ER. We felt from the start that Airbus should have had at least 30 more passengers. But the -1000 threatens the -300ER. Airbus claims the -1000 will have 25% lower trip costs; even Boeing’s own presentations grant the -1000 about 20% lower trip costs.

    With Boeing planning a 350-passenger 777-8X and a 406 passenger 777-9X, the need for a larger “A350-1100″ becomes acute. Boeing has had the monopoly with the 777-300ER, which will be broken by the -1000. The 9X will retain a monopoly; Airbus, to be fully competitive, needs to match this size.

  10. So Air France is not holding out for a P&W GTF option for the A350?

    Is there any indication of how Air France and Rolls Royce settled their issues?

    • A P&W 80 klbs GTF engine would not EIS before 2018. AF/KL EIS 2015?

      I guess RR has them by the ..lls with their A350 exclusivity. But has to be carefull. GE too, refusing to strike a deal with Airbus on the A350.

      The AF/KL group also has hundreds of Regionals, NBs and WBs up for replacement in the future. No need to make them angry..

  11. OV-099 :

    Coincidence
    It is a very coincidence that a paying blog posted a subject close to the ones I posted recently (click here).

    Yes, and that “blog” is nothing but a joke.
    I’m sorry, but if you want to be taken seriously, perhaps you should be looking at other sources?

    Yep anyone who quotes Saj Ahmad as a source clearly doesn’t have much going on when it comes to “objective” analysis. But then you only have to go read the user’s blog himself to know that he obviously comes with an “agenda”

  12. Davenport :
    Does it qualify as spamming to regularly promote your blog on someone else’s website?

    I can’t post the whole article about A350-1000XWB overweight here. So a link is probably the best suited way to do it.

    Davenport, do you agree with the simple analysis given in the link here: http://wp.me/piMZI-39i

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