US Airways early this morning announced it has deferred deliveries of 54 Airbus wide- and narrow-body airplanes from 2010 to 2013 and beyond, including the A350 from 2015 to 2017.
While a blow to Airbus on the one hand, it could help the company win the order on at United Airlines on the other.
The battle between Boeing and Airbus to win United’s order heated up significantly from our October 21 report in which we noted that, at the time, United was leaning toward Airbus. Since then Boeing has come on strong with the 787 to Airbus’s A350. The Chicago Tribune has this report on the competition.
The A350 deferral by USAirways opens up early delivery positions in 2015 for United. The lack of early delivery slots has been on on-going problem for both Airbus and Boeing, with the large backlogs for the A350 and 787 programs. Boeing, of course, has had some 80+ cancellations for the 787 and a number of deferrals. There has been a debate within Boeing whether to release these positions to Sales to offer to potential customers such as United; or for Production to retain the slots as a means to catch up on nearly three years of delays. We don’t know if this debate has been resolved one way or another, or if some slots have been returned to Sales and others kept by Production or how the Line 2 decision plays into this.
What we do know is that at least initially Boeing has been challenged in offering early slots to United.
The now-open 2015 slots for the A350 could be a tipping point in the campaign unless Boeing can do better. As always, pricing and financing offered by both sides will be important, too.
As for the single-aisle campaign, this won’t begin until next year.