Airbus affirms A350-800 future, but skeptics doubt it

Airbus confirmed at the Paris Air Show what we reported two weeks earlier, and that is the A350-1000 was going to be rescheduled to allow Rolls-Royce and Airbus to tweak the airplane for more power, longer range and higher payload.

At the same time, Airbus announced an 18 month rescheduling of the A350-800 to divert resources to the A350-900, the first of the three models planned to enter service, now promised for late 2013–a slide of at least a half year already.

In conjunction with the -800’s rescheduling, Airbus announced that 42 orders shifted from the -800 to the -900. While slightly more than 100 orders remain and Airbus denied market questions about whether the -800 will survive, one aerospace analyst would view cancellation of the -800 in a positive light.

Here is the story we did last week for Commercial Aviation Online.

Date: 06/07/2011 10:29
Source: Commercial Aviation Online
Location: Seattle
By: Scott Hamilton

Bernstein Research, in a 1 July report on EADS focusing on Airbus, sees a risk of cancellation of the A350-800 – a move that it views “positively”.

The conclusion comes following the announcement at the Paris Air Show that the -800 will be delayed two years and the A350-1000 by 18 months. Airbus rescheduled the -1000 in order to allow Rolls-Royce to provide a slightly larger engine to enable the aircraft to go another 400nm with an increased payload. But, to Bernstein’s disappointment, the passenger capacity remains the same at 350. Airbus delayed the -800, officials said, to concentrate resources on the A350-900. Forty-two orders for the -800 in the first two years of the original 2014 entry-into-service have switched to the larger -900, but more than 100 orders remain.

Bernstein views the -800 “as the least attractive of the family and believe it is ultimately at risk of cancellation—which we would view positively,” the 1 July report says.

Airbus denies is plans to cancel the -800, which competes with the Boeing 787-9.

“It appears that Airbus is willing to let Boeing have the lower end of the widebody market, while it concentrates on the high end. Boeing, however, is not willing to cede the high end to Airbus.”

The Boeing 787-8 and the morbid moribund 767 compete with the A330-200 for the lower end. The A330-300 competes with the 777-200ER and the A350-900/1000 compete with the 777-200ER and 777-300ER respectively.

The 787-8 has sold more than 500 of the approximately 850 787s ordered to date. Airbus believes the 787 is generally sized too small and seems content to let the A330-200—which is slightly larger than the 787-8—defend this market segment. While the A330-200 will cost more to operate than the 787-8, the larger passenger and cargo capacity will generate more revenue and make the aircraft more profitable, Airbus argues.

Ironically, the same may be said for the 777-300ER vs. the slightly smaller A350-1000. EIS of the -1000 is now slated for 2017. EIS for the -900 has slipped to late 2013 and many—including Bernstein—expect it to slide to 2014, with a mere eight predicted for delivery.

Bernstein projects Airbus and Boeing deliveries through 2015. Boeing dominates the upper middle-twin aisle deliveries with the 777 while Airbus holds a slight lead in the lower twin-aisle markets. The numbers are somewhat skewed because Bernstein doesn’t separate the A330-300 out into the 777 marketplace.

Airbus holds a slight lead in the single-aisle market and the Very Large Aircraft segment. Overall, Boeing regains the market leadership next year as 787 and 747 deliveries finally kick in in earnest, retaining it through 2015, the last year of Bernstein’s current projections.

The A320neo is scheduled to begin delivery in October 2015.

25 Comments on “Airbus affirms A350-800 future, but skeptics doubt it

  1. Bearing in mind the A350-800 on its own competes against both the 787-8 and the 787-9, A350-800 sales aren’t impressive. Airbus has no effective response to the 787 in its segment. I don’t think the A330-200 is long for this world. The A330-300 could go on for a bit longer – at least until the 787-10 comes on stream.

  2. I don’t know that there will be a B-787-10, Boeing has been riding the fence of that model. I think you are right about the A-332 not being long for this world. I think it will end production (but still be offered) within 10 years, or so. I also think Airbus will cancel the A-358, as Boeing did with the B-783. The B-77W will eventually kill off the A-333, too. But it may have to struggle against the A-3510 if Airbus improves that model to more of what the ME airlines want, not in its “new” current form.

  3. Aviation history confirms, that if an aircraft is not too big when it goes
    into service, within reason, it will soon be too small!
    That already appears to be the case for both the 787-8 and the
    A350-800, with the lack of orders for both a/p’s.
    Airbus, by delaying the A35-1000 to be powered with more powerful
    and newly developed RR engines, appears to be in the stronger
    position compared to the 787-10 and that well may be the reason why
    Boeing is having a tough time getting commitments for it!
    If so, history may well repeat itself, because Airbus coming out with
    the A350 after Boeing launched the 787, had the benefit of improving
    on the existing 787 design, as Boeing did with the 777, three years
    after the MD-11 and A340 had been launched, making the 777 the
    record breaking wide-body airplane it still is today!

  4. @Rudy Hillinga:

    “appears to be in the stronger
    position compared to the 787-10 and that well may be the reason why
    Boeing is having a tough time getting commitments for it!”

    Do you have any proof of that? In fact, to the contrary, Boeing has been “telegraphing” for quite some time that a B787-10 will come out..it would be an excellent A333 replacement.

  5. I believe the B-787-8 has about 450 to 500 orders, including the orders converted from the aborted B-787-3. The A-350-800 has just over 100 orders. So, something about the size of the B-788 must be right. The A-350-1000 only has about 75 orders, or so. None have been ordered since Airbus officially anounced the improvement package at last month’s PAS, even though word was out before then (by Scott). I suspect Airbus has been peddling the ‘improved’ A-3510 even before Scott released his story here.

    The B-787-10, if it ever becomes a reality will need a bigger wing, more powerful engines (maybe the RR Trent-XWB?), and stronger MLG. It cannot stay at the same weight as the B-787-9.

    I don’t see how the A-350 is an ‘improved’ design over the B-787. Yes, both have composits as their fuselarge, but the B-787 also uses that for the wings, the A-350 does not, it uses a metal wing.

    I believe both the B-787 and A-350 will be successful airplanes, although for different reasons. Based on what each has already sold, the B-787 about 800, and the A-350 about 550, each has proven to be what the customer airlines want. Some airlines bought both airplanes.

    The B-777’s early success is partly because the MD-11 never did meet its promised performance goals, and the A-342/3 had poor hot runway performance. At DFW, the LH A-343 would, in the hot Texas summer, use up over 12,000′ of our 14,300′ long runways as it departed at, or near its MTOW. A visiting member of the Royal Saudi Family, departed on one hot day from DFW to RUH in an A-342 also took up most of Rwy 17R. But sales wise, the A-343 sold reasonable well, not so for A-342/5/6.

    • Your argument lacks coroborating facts ( actually plain wrong).
      The XWB gets a black wing. And you are still idling in the Boeing
      marketing trap.
      The question tends to be how well matched materials selection
      and design methodology are and how well they are composited in
      a synergetic way. _and not_ the brilliance of creative excretions
      of the marketing department. This is a Boeing first and that is a
      Boeing first, blab bla.
      Boeing floats the -10 on a regular basis without creating tangible
      interest ( done for taking focus away from the -8 is my guess ).
      They have continuously lost customers for the -8(and -9)even
      though those frames were ordered at prices significantly below
      the competitions typical pricing (going through a max 910?
      down to 827 as of June this year.).

  6. “Airbus holds a slight lead in the single-aisle market and the Very Large Aircraft segment.”

    intriguing, we know what’s happening in the NB segment and Boeing hasn’t delivered a single passenger VLA for the last 6 yrs & has a backlog of a few dozen. Adding freighters to suggest some balance is non-sense and even those haven’t sold well.

  7. Keesje, isn’t that also true for the last several production years of the A-300-600R? No pax versions sold? It will probibly be true for the A-330, B-777, etc. when they enter their final sales years too. “Adding freighters to suggest some balance is non-sense and even those haven’t sold well.” Why? Is it because Airbus has been less successful in the new build freighter market than Boeing has? So Airbus supporters just ignor that segment of new build airplanes entirely? I’ll agree, the world freighter market (excluding military cargo and tanker aircraft) is not huge, a current backlog of less than 300 aircraft, spread among the A-332F, B-763ERF, B-772LRF, and B-747-8F. But they are still new builds for each OEM, and each one counts in the total sales record for that basic airplane (A-330, B-767, B-777, and B-747).

  8. @EWE:

    “Boeing floats the -10 on a regular basis without creating tangible
    interest ( done for taking focus away from the -8 is my guess ).
    They have continuously lost customers for the -8(and -9)even
    though those frames were ordered at prices significantly below
    the competitions typical pricing (going through a max 910?
    down to 827 as of June this year.).”

    I asked about the previous poster regarding the -10 and I’ll ask you..do you have any proof of “without creating tangible interest”. Your comments are in contrast to what Boeing management is stating regarding the -10.

    Yes they have lost customers-but it certainly isn’t due to the B787’s capabilities-more to do with the fact many of the carriers simply cannot afford to purchase the plane or have had a change in business plans. Airbus has seen cancellations for the A350 as well……

    Do you think Airbus didn’t price its A350’s at “significantly below the competitions typical pricing”? Many of the A350s which Airbus will deliver are at the discounted price of the ORIGINAL A350…talk about discounts.

    • Well, ok, but be more carefull next time or I send my minions ( http://www.ironsky.com 😉

      Boeings “say so” is in contrast to reality on a regular basis. Compare the -10 to the
      A380-900 ( which certainly _has_ very interested customers to be. How often does
      Airbus do the NumberGirl thing with that future subtype ?

      Best price for 787 seems to have been $67m ( for an average of $76m for about the
      first 400 sales). Thats about 50% of an already floored listprice I think ( based on
      realistically unachievable ( not only in hindsight ) production simplifications.

      Over the years I have come to the conclusion that Boeing wanted to bind potential Airbus customers at all costs and by all means thinkable but never planned beyond i.e. to be
      actually able to fullfill that orderbook instead hoping for a major contraction during the
      then looming US^H^HGFC which wasn’t all that unexpected as most people seem to think.

      I don’t think Boeing management is dumb. But they certainly are insidious only their
      scheme didn’t work out as planned.

  9. You might want to check your dictionary for the difference between “the morbid 767” and “the moribund 767”.

  10. “Keesje, isn’t that also true for the last several production years of the A-300-600R? No pax versions sold? It will probibly be true for the A-330, B-777, etc. when they enter their final sales years too.”

    Of course, but for the 747-8, it’s the starting sales years where freighters dominate, a first IMO.
    Still I’m curious how Bernstein concluded “Airbus holds a slight lead ..in the VLA business”

    On topic the A350-800 as a shrink from the -900 will no doubt be heavier then the 787-9 as a stretch of the 787-8. Given all other factors equal/less important (price, comfort, (engine) commonality, payload-range) the 787-9 would be a more efficient platform.

  11. Thanks for the links Uwe!

    ….$76 is low, but it doesn’t include engines, etc. so that would be about $100 for “full product”..I think the comment regarding “giving away the plane” was in lieu of the fact had Boeing known in advance they would have sold so many frames, they wouldn’t have as heavily discounted the launch frames.

    Again, the same went with Airbus and their A380 and A350 program…..

    • My understanding is that all prices ( published list, rebated ) are sans engines and accessories and thus comparable ?

  12. Some of the numbers I’ve read for both the A350 and A380 are inclusive…..and again, without being tautological, many of the A350 orders are for the original “Mark-I” version of the A350…and AFAIK, carriers such as QR will be paying the “Mark-I” version..not the XWB version…

    Of interest:

    “Aspire Aviation has learned one important contributing factor to Boeing’s optimism in the payload/range performance, as well as the superior fuel burn performance of the 787-10X is the weight reduction opportunities being realised on the 787-9, which Aspire Aviation‘s source says is “moving ahead of the curve” with little to no overweight issue.”

    http://www.aspireaviation.com/2011/07/11/boeing-787-a-dream-almost-come-true/

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