Airbus v Boeing on wide bodies

Airbus and Boeing don’t confine their comparisons to the A320 v 737. They are equally forthcoming in discussing the wide-body strategies.

The pre-Paris Air Show briefings included contrasts in how Airbus and Boeing see the wide-body strategies.

Airbus views the product line-up this way:
Airbus WB positioning

Boeing views the product line up this week. We added the seat gap counts and arrows, because Boeing appears to use a slightly higher seat gap count for the A380 than does Airbus vis-a-vis the A350. We added the seat gap count between the 777-9X and the 747-8I, based on Boeing’s publicly stated assumed seat counts.

Boeing v Airbus


In these examples, we favor the Boeing view (though with the Airbus A380 seat count) as to the market gaps. We do not see the A350-1000 competing with the 777-9X.

40 Comments on “Airbus v Boeing on wide bodies

  1. It seems Airbus sees the 777-9x just as a 2.6m / 18-20 seat stretch.

    Boeing however has done some “internal stretching” creating .. not 407 seats according to the graph?

    Anyway the 747-8i surely has a niche 400-500 seats.

    • Upwards of the 777-9x the distance to the next _viable_ larger Boeing airframe is infinite.
      ( very limited number of sales for 747-8i imho indicates that one could just leave it out of the picture )

  2. The A350-1000 wasn’t designed to compete with the -9, it was targeting the 300ER, of course Airbus has to position it against the proposed -9, but as the point I made in the other thread, they have to market their products too.

  3. Airbus says the A-3510 seats 350 in a 3 class, or 369-412 in a 2 class seating arrangement. So, the gap between the A-3510 and the A-388 could be correct, based on a ‘standard’ configuration of 525-550 seats on the A-380.

    • About the gap, 525-350, thus a delta of 175 seats seems realistic for Airbus. Don’t know how Boeing comes at 215.

      “We do not see the A350-1000 competing with the 777-9X.”

      The 773ER has a cabin  of 59.24m, the 779 a cabin of 61.84m, the A350-1000 should have a cabin length of 58.8m. 

      For carriers like BA, ANA, CX, SQ, JAL, the difference between a A350-1000 and the 777-9X is about 18-24 seats, including the extra galley, lavatory.

      Does the revenue potential of those 24 seats (excl. loadfactors) after 2020-21 justify the likely higher weight, fuel and maintenance costs of the 777-9X?

      We do not know, but the two seems certainly competitors to me. Why not?

      • keesje, Boeing says the B-777-9X will seat about 407. I don’t know how many classes of seats that is, but Boeing typically uses 3 classes. Airbus says the A-3510 in a 3 class seats 350. Seems to me that is 57 more seats, not your “guess” of 18-24.

        Also, we know nothing about the weight, fuel burn, or maintenance costs. Please stop saying something you know nothing about. I know you love to run down Boeing products as much as I love to run down Airbus products. But, you are speculating here about the B-777X programs and it is obvious you know nothing about it.

        About all that is publicly known (which is not much) about the B-777-8X/-9X right now is the -9X will be longer than the current B-777-300ER, the B-777-8X will be about the same size as the B-777-200LR, but with more range, they will have a new wing and new engine, and composite will be used in building the new wing. The B-777Xs will also have a new interior, and other aero-dynamic improvements. There is talk about a wider fuselage over the current B-777 models, allowing a more comfortable 10 across seating than the current B-777, A-380, or A-350 will offer. Boeing is claiming a 20%-25% fuel improvement (at least for the -9X) over the B-777-300ER, which puts it in the same ballpark as Airbus is claiming for the A-3510. In fact, as I see it the two B-777X models are a very big threat to the two biggest A-350s, the -900 and the -1000. With the B-787 models starting to replace the A-330 models, Airbus COULD be in for a very hard time in the WB market.

        • Hi Keesje and kc135
          It has been two years since your comment and a lot has happened.
          At this point its clear that kc135topboom was right about everything, and keesje was just trying to put boeing down without any data to support his claims. The 777 is significantly larger and so much more economical than the a350, actually the triple 7 is so superior to the a350 (on every measure) that mr clark of the emirates cancelled the entire a350 order and replaced it with the 777.

      • I’m not sure you’re thinking correctly with the A350-1000 versus the 777-9X. I think Boeing is asking airlines to look at the 777-9X as a replacement for the 747-400. If you make that comparison the 7-9X is a significant improvement over the 747-400. I carry as many passengers and cargo as a 747-400 with two less engines and I also don’t have the worry of using too much aircraft with a A380. Using that concept will in no way bring the A350-1000 into the conversation.

  4. Provocatively, looking at todays situation, Boeing seems to have two acute gaps this decade.

    – A VLA, above the 773ER (who loves the 748i, 777-9x; 2021 maybe, <400 seats?)

    – 300-350 Seats to/from Asia, (no backlog 772ER/LR, 787-10 (2018) will lack range, 777-8X; heavy, 2020 maybe?)

  5. Rudy Hillinga Why is filling out these two lines a new equirement every time I write somethingScott?

    keesje: Anyway the 747-8i surely has a niche (with) 400-500 seats.
    Jah, big deal! But, it is NOT SELLING AT ALL and as I indicated earlier, the
    747-8 is A DEAD DUCK, because it was a foolish and too late a reaction to
    the A380! Why, because Boeing CEO Phil Condit assured me in Nov. 1997,
    reflecting a continuing “head-in-the-sand” attitude about Airbus at Boeing
    Management levels, even at that late date, with: “Rudy, I will give you my
    personal guarantees that Airbus WILL NEVER launch the A3XX,” when I
    urged him to at least consider what effect that program would have on the
    747 program, if A. would succeed and launch the A380, of which 300+ units
    have now been sold and the equivalent of about 500 747s and about the
    same number of 747s sold in the same time period!
    Several airlines, among them “Emirates,” are now urging Airbus to stretch
    the A380 and I predict they will, to cope with the huge increases in pas-
    senger traffic forecasted recently, as confirmed also by the massive number
    of 737/A320s having been ordered and especially in the Pacific Region, also
    heavily influenced by airport congestion!

    • Rudy, I assume that if Airbus and you are correct, Boeing will launch an all new VLA. Probably postioned below the A380. 400-500 seats. Later this decade?

  6. “We do not see the A350-1000 competing with the 777-9X”.

    As an ‘outsider’, I question whether there is in fact just the ‘pretence’ of competition in the duopolistic wide-body market?

    Looking ahead to 2020, I do not see any of the modern/upgraded Airbus or Boeing aircraft models offering any genuine like-for-like competition (ie. similar vintage, Pax and range).

    I’m not for a second suggesting a conspiracy, just a commercial imperative by these companies’ management – in such a duopoly, management would surely target ‘the gaps’ in the market where there is potentially something akin to ‘monopolistic’ pricing, and avoid going head-to-head?

    I would even question whether there is actually any real competition in the 150+ narrow body sector either – I would imagine that the ‘duopoly’ have managed to create such large economies of scale (from equally dividing this volume sector) that they are able to keep prices high enough to generate good margins, but at the same time low enough to keep out new entrants.

  7. The Airbus a350 is a real airplane. The Boeing 777-300ER is an obsolete airplane. The Boeing 777x is a paper airplane.

    Guess which one passengers will be flying in the future?

    • Well, through their gestation and life all new designs transition through various states:rumor, paper, more paper, prototype, more prototypes, production samples, use, the scrapper 😉 ok, some do fall by the wayside somewhere on that path.

    • Obsolete? The best selling wide-body twin ever, nearly eclipsing the best selling quad is all of a sudden an obsolete? Surely you jest. In all fairness, the A350 is a real airplane and so is the B 77W and believe the 777-9x will be real in the future. To answer your question, all of them.

  8. “keesje, Boeing says the B-777-9X will seat about 407. I don’t know how many classes of seats that is, but Boeing typically uses 3 classes. Airbus says the A-3510 in a 3 class seats 350. Seems to me that is 57 more seats, not your “guess” of 18-24.”

    KCT, you are taken for a ride. It’s not about what Airbus or Boeing thinks best fits their marketing strategy, its about airlines, product specs & dimensions. An economy seat row takes about 32 inch + ~15% lavatory & galley space. The 9x is 2.6m stretch of the 773ER, take it from there.

    “Please stop saying something you know nothing about”
    You seem to believe what you’re told. I did 6 WB & 2 NB retrofits and dozens trade-off studies. Typical seatcounts of the OEM’s played no role.

  9. The A350-1000 is attractive if you chose 9-abreast seating. The B777-9X can only achieve the high seat count if 10-abreast seating is chosen in economy. That results in 17-17.5inch seats in economy and quite small aisles, essentially less seating comfort than that of a B737. Is that compatible with 14 hour flights?
    If the airline assumes it is, the B777-9X is the perfect choice. A 10-abreast seating in an A350XWB is technically possible, but indeed close to being unacceptable (like 9-abreast in a A330). If you prefer to offer a high quality cabin product, you end up with the A350 being more competitive (except maybe you haul colossal amounts of additional revenue cargo).

    So, look in seatguru which airlines flies 10-abreast economy today in B777 and you figure which airlines are more likely to switch to A350 and which aren’t. British Airways for example looks like an A350 candidate.

    There is Airbus marketing blabla about the A380 being preferred by passengers in booking (Airbus calls it “the A380 factor”). Now, when you look what you get at for example Emirates (either 10-abreast B777 or 10-breast A380) that is no surprise.

    I doubt Boeing will ever launch anything above the B777-9X. The price tag is north of 12-14 billion USD (that’s the price tag of the A350). As long as no revolutionary technologies are available, the A350 pretty much sets limit what you can achieve with current technology. Some say that 2nd generation CFRP design could remove some weight, and that 2nd generation all-electric system design yields another 1% or so. But that’s it.

    If you put an aircraft above the B777X you might have to consider two decks. But the smallest useful two-deck layout is actually the A380 (putting a single aisle on top of a widebody as done with the B747 is not that great). In essence, experience shows than twin deck solutions should be avoided.

    Boeing’s top management appears to be very stingy since the MDD merger, and has landed a number of hilarious catastrophes (B787 industrial solution, B747-8 [“the 1 billion USD program”] and the B737-indecision). The next likely Boeing program is an aircraft between B737 (which needs replacement urgently) and the widebodies. Let’s not forget, Boeing has lost substantial market share in the single aisle business, and the Chinese A320 (C919) will be available in a couple of years.

    Sorry for the long writing.

      • 6 in a row will be terrible but should still be legal, right?
        a380 main deck cabin width 21′ 7″ = 259″, first order estimate: 259″ / (12+2) ~= 18.5″
        18.5″ is quite the “press fit” ( comparable value for 777 in 10x is 19.25″ )

  10. kc135topboom :
    Boeing is claiming a 20%-25% fuel improvement (at least for the -9X) over the B-777-300ER, which puts it in the same ballpark as Airbus is claiming for the A-3510.

    Let’s see. A re-winged, re-engined stretch vs. a clean sheet design. We’ve seen this before. Take it with a barrel of salt.

    • Boeing is also claiming that the 737NG is 2% cheaper all-in than the NEO. And because that’s true they are doing the MAX now. Shrug.

  11. Reading the comments here tells me that the Boeing product offering sucks!!! Don’t understand how they will every compete against the offerings presented by Airbus. The 787- solution was not well received and poorly positioned despite having more than 850 unit sales. The 777 can’t have been successful despite it selling more than 1000 frames. Too many holes in their offering. Poor Boeing, company run by stupid MBAs who hate their employees, and on and on. Guys, if it were not for the A330 program the Airbus widebody program has been a joke. The 340 (all of the attempts) were a total miss, and what did the market say when the first A330s flew? Now Airbus has a strong understanding of the widebody world? Let’s see where the widebody totals end up after the Paris Airshow before we allow this and all the other sites to complete their DOA of Boeing.

    • My comments might appear that way, but actually Boeing’s offering is quite good. There is little more opportunity from new technologies in that sector. Using the B787 and A350 as datum, there is little further room for it. The B777X will get 80-90% of that by using a new wing and better engines (while even the current are quite good). The only option of getting better products is by radical departures from current design requirements (range optimization, speed reduction). Those wouldn’t sell today.

      The offerings of both manufacturers are sufficiently different to find their market. Airbus will probably offer the A330 as long as the B787 line is fully booked and Boeing has to make good its investments (BTW, same applies for the engine makers). But I don’t think we will see any A330 orders after 2016. At some point, pricing cannot compensate the disadvantage any more.

      Boeing’s more frequent “business case minded” decisions (means: keep the old, renew it, don’t invest unless really necessary) offend the engineer and plane-enthusiast in me, but are probably often the more reasonable choice.

      • Schorsch :
        Airbus will probably offer the A330 as long as the B787 line is fully booked and Boeing has to make good its investments (BTW, same applies for the engine makers). But I don’t think we will see any A330 orders after 2016. At some point, pricing cannot compensate the disadvantage any more.

        I think the fate of the A330 (at least the passenger variants) depends on how far ahead Boeing pulls away in terms of total operating costs advantage with the 787. Right now, the A330 production is a fully mature program and Airbus wouldn’t even mind selling them at production cost if it denies Boeing the sales. Airbus would look to discount their product to a price which accounts for the shortfall in total operating costs over its useful life (also factoring in how long one would have to wait to get a 787) and only once this discount pushes the price below cost of production, will Airbus stop new passenger A330 sales.

        But I do see the A330 continuing to sell as freighters for sometime, like the A300, the last of which was produced in 2007.

  12. United will probably convert / order A350s & 787s.

    As expected United will probably go for A350-1000s too.

    United could also be another good launch customer next to SQ for the 787-10, once it gets launched (next week?) .

    United A350-1000 for Pacific flights, 787-10s for TransAtlantic (ex LAX/SFO) / Transcon?

    Many big 777 customers are ordering / considering XWB’s recently.

    1. EK (110 x777s) -> XWB (incl -1000)
    2. UA (74 x777s) -> XWB (studying -1000)
    3. AF (64 x 777s) -> XWB (studying -1000)
    4. SQ (64 x777s) -> XWB (incl -1000)
    5. AA (52 x777s) -> XWBs US Airways
    6. BA (52 x777s) -> XWB (incl -1000)
    7. ANA (51 x777s) -> Undecided
    8. JAL (46 x777s) -> Undecided
    9. CX (45 x777s) -> XWB (incl -1000)
    10 Korean (34 x777s) -> Undecided
    11. Qatar (31 x777s) -> XWB (incl -1000)

    Boeing now better comes up with a very good 777X fast.

  13. The A350-1000 currently doesn’t do any harm due to its lack of physical existence.
    An “ungelegtes Ei”*, as you say in Germany.

    * freely translated: “unlayed egg”

  14. I think people are getting carried away on both sides. Boeing still has a great product lineup and it is only going to get better. Airbus has gotten a much better product line which has and will continue to make them more competitive with Boeing.

    If one wants to keep a score, I would say that Boeing is losing, not that they really are but because Airbus has finally gotten a better and somewhat more comprehensive widebody product offering together. But I hardly doubt that Boeing is suffering becaused of that.

  15. Just been to the Paris airshow. Glad to say I seen the new Airbus A350 in the air obviously it wasn’t on display for obvious reasons. Then along came the dreamliner . Glad to see it back in the air after its problems. In terms of this argument boeing know they have lost in the jumbo market but for the medium short haul and long haul market they won’t give up without a fight. Yes Airbus has orders but I think there market views are un realistic. After the A380 do they really need another 300 to 400 capacity airliner? Ok im a boeing fan and I’d pick the 747 over Airbus any day. A guy asked me today if you were buying what would you choose I said simply boeing. Because they can reach there targets and there always one step ahead. Prove of that is everytime they introduce something Airbus and customers are scrambling to come up with an answer. So to end all this boeing will eventually win the war why.? Because I read they have a trick up there sleeve that even Airbus might not have an answer for.

  16. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t Boeing sell a majority of their 777-300ERs in a 10 abreast economy?

    So the 777X adds about 4 inches to that via internal stretch. My guess is that 10 abreast becomes the new standard. No?

    As for the A350-1000 XWB, it is narrower than the 777-300ER by the better part of a foot. So 9 abreast in economy is the true standard for the new Airbus offering.

    That’s one extra seat per row of economy. That’s good for about 20-25 seats. Then, consider that the 777-9X is going to be over 8 feet longer than the A350-1000. That is good for another two rows or twenty seats.

    So all in, the 777-9X has a 40 plus seat advantage over the A350-1000. That’s a big number. It will very difficult for Airbus to beat the 777-9X on pure seat economics with the A350-1000 as is regardless of the carbon fiber fuselage, new build, etc.

    • The trend in deliveries seems to go to 10abreast for the 777.
      Having that trend in mind a slightly wider cabin could move the 9/10 “demarcation line”
      earlier for select airlines. But it would not be a gain across all users.
      A lot will already have 10across some others will never go away from 9 across.

      Then, if todays 777 economics already depend on 10 abreast this gain is not
      available “for another round” for improving on the 777X cost situation.

      Remaing: 2 more rows @ 10 across.

      • Boeing, like Airbus offers a verity of configurations to airlines for the airplanes they order. The two big OEMs do not select a configuration, the customer does. IIRC, we discussed this not to long ago with the B-737.

        • Which is rather irrelevant here.

          Boeing advertises as advancement something that has already and mostly been subsumed by customers.

          • Your answers always assume that Boeing products = BAD, and Airbus products = GOOD. The reality is airlines buy Boeing and/or Airbus based n their needs and not your opinion

          • You regularly show a distinct lack of reading comprehension 😉

            So, let me rephrase that:
            If a majority of users have improved on CASM by stuffing 10 in a row of 777 “classic” seats
            there is no legitimacy for claiming that improvement (~11%) for an enhanced 777″X”.
            That improvement has been realised and can’t be counted twice.

          • No sir, you are wrong (as usual). Boeing is using 10 Y seat abreast for the classic B-777 models and 10 Y seat abreast for the B-777X models. We shall see which of us is correct when the B-777X models are formerly launched in Dubai later this year with orders from some ME airlines, who already use 10 Y abreast seating.

    • another item:

      EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou will contest the boards decission to buy narrow bodies from Airbus. ( found in local newspaper here ).

      • Should EasyJet end up cancelling their A-32XCEO/NEO “order”, it won’t hurt Airbus one bit. In fact that “order” is not an order at all, it is still a MoU.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *