Airbus’ chief operating officer-customers, John Leahy, dismisses the idea that Boeing can add more seats to its 737 family to gain competitiveness over the A320 family.
In a press briefing in advance of the air show discussing the 737 MAX (not subject to embargo), a Boeing official revealed that the company is considering changes to the galley/aft lavatory design and the use of slim line seats to add 6-9 seats to the entire 737 NG family. These changes would migrate to the 737 MAX. Airbus previously announced similar changes to the A320, gaining three seats, and more recently to the A321—which also required the addition of exit doors—to boost capacity to 236 passengers in shoe-horn configuration.
But in an interview with Leahy, was skeptical about Boeing’s possibilities.
“That’s more problematic, we’ll see,” he said. “Is this the O’Leary option where they stand at the back of the airplane?” he quipped, referring to Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary, who has proposed a standing seat configuration.
“I’d be very surprised if they did that,” Leahy said, getting back on point. “I don’t know if they could do that (6-9 seats) but remember, we have 236 seats in the A321, so why should I be concerned if they squeeze a few extra seats in? I’d be surprised if they can. I think [the 737-900ER] is at its exit limits right now. It’s also at its performance limits.
Leahy believes that the A320neo will maintain a 60% market share vs the 737 MAX.
“We’re outselling the MAX 2-1 with a 65% market share. We’re not talking about the first couple of hundred airplanes, we’re talking about the first couple of thousand that the neo will have 60% of the market and they’ll have 40%. We’ll give them 40% of the market. It looks right now that the [neo] market will go higher than that but we’ll stay there.”