Comparing the 737 and the A320: the story continues

The war of words between Airbus and Boeing continues over the A320 and the 737, with each company boasting its airplanes are better than the competitors.

The competing positions were evident in the pre-Paris Air Show briefings from both companies. The comparisons between the single aisle airplanes were front-and-center again.

We’ve written on several occasions that when Boeing compares the 737 with the Airbus A320, officials credit the 737 with Performance Improvement Packages (PIPs) but except for the sharklets and the neo, does not credit Airbus with any other improvements while listing years of upgrades for the 737.

We’ve been critical of the practice, which continues. We recognize that Airbus and Boeing will put their product in the best light, and Airbus selectively chooses information to promote its airplanes at the expense of Boeing (the A330-300 v the 787-9 being a particularly egregious example we’ve written about in the past.)

We’ve written many pieces that airlines tell us the 737-800 and A320 are within 2% of each other on cash operating costs, favoring the 738.

In the most recent briefings, Boeing displayed the following charts comparing the 737 vs the A320.


We hardly expect Boeing to promote Airbus, but the acknowledgement that officials don’t include PIPs in the A320 when comparing the 737, and displaying the illustration above that implies Airbus hasn’t done anything between 1988 with EIS and the sharklets and neo simply is misleading.

Boeing also displayed this chart.


We asked Airbus what PIPs and upgrades it has undertaken since the A320’s EIS and got these charts in response.










45 Comments on “Comparing the 737 and the A320: the story continues

  1. Bah, all I have to say is “money talks and b.s. walks”. Until I see the B737MAX order book reach that of the A32XNEO, call me a “skeptic”. If I’m not mistaken, even with the B737MAX available for order, the A32XNEO is outselling the B737MAX.

    • The Neo sales gain is mainly to forced/manipulated sales to EU State Owned/Supported Carriers including the (YES) Asian Carriers in their fold. EU carriers that don’t purchase a high % of Airbus products face tax penalties.European Commission sets the mandate.European Commission and Airbus are pissed-off at Lufthansa’s recent 777XX purchase (and rumor of more 747-8 on the way)…Now the EU Commission is set to force State Owned/Supported Carriers to not only buy a “whole % of the fleet” but now be manipulated to buy a % of Airbus wide bodies. Does that sound like true sales? NO. Plus Airbus throws in “free spare engines,etc as part of the purchase” Even in front of the WTO,Airbus admitted it “dumps” planes below manufacturing cost……….which is why (beyond grandfathered-converted purchases from USA carriers) US carriers have stopped purchasing Airbus. Boeing does not give free-bees away at a loss (it’s against the LAW) Although Boeing gets by on fewer sales, labor force 1/8 of Airbus’s Marxist labor syndicated….Boeing makes a lot more dough…………as Carriers/Pilot Unions really want-prefer Boeing products. Now if Embraer steps up the game into wide-bodies,things could get real interesting……..beyond the Chinese single-isle offering that will eventually stall A320 sales abroad.

      • LOL dude, are you serious? The EC telling Eurpean airlines what to get? Where on earth are you getting this bs from, some Trump rally? Plenty of airlines in the EU have Boeings and order Boeings, in addition to Airbuses. Also plenty of Embraers.
        As for the A320 Neo vs 737 Max, 737 leads only in the US…and Africa.

        Your WTO argument is incoherent. Airbus is NOT dumping planes and it has not said such thing at the WTO. Also US carriers have NOT stopped buying Airbus planes. Unless you mean Continental, which now became United, which is p-whipped by the Boeing lobby and whose CEO was a former Boeing exec! Please! American tried to resist until the end and couldn’t.

      • If it ain’t Boeing, I’m not going. Airbus A320 shakes too much on flights along same routes, though I do not know why. Boeing planes have smoother rides though I do not know why.

  2. Funny Boeing lists carbon brakes. The Airbus got them from the beginning. Boeing simply didn’t need to use them because the B737 has a comfortable weight advantage (with the disadvantage of having the smaller cabin and fuselage).

    The idea that Airbus developed the A320NEO to “finally” compete with the B737NG would kind of imply that Boeing rules the market with the B737NG and only the stupid and the french-lovers go buying an A320. Turns out, that’s not the case (I think there was more or less parity in the single aisle market).

    • Well, wasn’t that exactly what Boeing said two years ago at PAS, that the neosomehow only made the A320 “equal” in performance to the NG. Sounds like a scratched record, doesn’t it?

    • Or that Airbus did a better job from the beginning and did not need to come out with a new plane to compete wit the 737NG. The neo is not competing with the NG. Logically it is competing with the max because it is using the same engines and is being sold in the same time period.

    • Did you not read this?

      Airbus selectively chooses information to promote its airplanes at the expense of Boeing (the A330-300 v the 787-9 being a particularly egregious example we’ve written about in the past.)

      • Yes, sir, I did read that. Hence my statement that both of them suffer the same problem. My second statement was in response to the earlier 3 replies.

    • Will there be LD3 container on the MAX? It’s not just the weight. It’s also about the “legs”…

      • Probably no LD3 capability in the B-737MAX (like the current B-737NG). But, except for A-319 vs. the B-73G, the remaining members of the B-737NG/MAX family have longer legs than the competing members of the A-32X-OEO/NEO. The B-73G does have a 6000 lb weight advantage over the A-319. Less weight is one factor in reducing fuel burn.

    • kc135topboom :
      BTW, the B-737 empty airframe is lighter (in weight) than the empty A-320 airframe.

      Didn’t I read somewhere that MAX is actually going to even out that difference, due to the larger scope of modifications required?

      According to Aspire Aviation, the OEW of the MAX has increased by 2.49t, while NEO only gains around 1.8t for the GTF (and 1.7t for LEAP). If true that brings the current ~1.2t difference between the A320 and 737-800 down to only ~0.5t for NEO GTF and ~0.4t for LEAP.

      It’s also interesting to note that according to the data I could find, range increases between NG and MAX as well as CEO and NEO are comparable – but NEO only gets ~1t additional MTOW, while MAX gets 2t (-7) and 3t (-8/-9) more.

      I’m really curious what OEWs and MTOWs are going to look like when they’re eventually finalised and official, but from what’s been published so far, I wouldn’t take it for granted that the empty airframe weight difference between A320 and 737 is going to remain unchanged.with the latest iteration of both models.

  3. So that must be why the MAX still doesn’t have escape slides …

  4. I am aghast. They actually say that 737NG had nothing to do with the A320 (and Boeing losing United’s business for 737s), and MAX nothing to do with NEO. In that parallel universe, the A320 wasn’t competitive in the 15 years between NG launch and NEO launch.
    Whom do they actually expect to believe this revisionist history, besides the obvious folks in online discussion forums?
    It’s like Airbus claiming that the A350XWB had absolutely nothing to do with the 787…

    • I actually just noticed that :0 Both companies have published some BS theories in the past, but surely this really has to be up there? So in Boeing’s world, Airbus is just now responding to the NG some 15years later and the MAX is now unchallenged. Okay…

      • Thanks for pointing that one out, otherwise it might have gone unnoticed. I lol’d. 😀

  5. I guess it says a lot about the 737NG that an unchanged A320 from from 25years ago, still kept pace in the market with their revamped NG. Disappointing 🙁
    And that NEO that’s supposed to be 2% worse than the NG is getting all the orders too. I’d be concerned for Boeing. They apparently have the better plane by far and yet still lag behind in market share. Wonder what Airbus’ secret is.

    • And that NEO that’s supposed to be 2% worse than the NG is getting all the orders too. I’d be concerned for Boeing. They apparently have the better plane by far and yet still lag behind in market share. Wonder what Airbus’ secret is.

      Airbus is more efficient.

    • The secret is that the people posting this info can’t bear the thought that Airbus is clearly making a better plane than Boeing so they make up numbers.

      • Actually, the secret to why the Airbus A320 Neo has more orders is simply because Airbus played the “get to the market first” game. Which I have to admit was smart for Airbus because it allowed them to get a good lead before Boeing came in with the Boeing 737 MAX. From past experience, Airbus leaders already knew that Boeing was a very strong competitor against them so they took the risk by introducing their new plane earlier. Also, I would like to note that the Boeing 737 MAX is generally a better plane than the Airbus A320 Neo. The Boeing 737 has always had lower operating costs and has been a mostly lighter, more fuel efficient, and faster jet than the Airbus A320. Also, in my opinion, Airbus never really had to start from scratch when it came to creating a new jet. Boeing was playing in whole new field of aircraft making, decades before Airbus when in the 1950’s it created the first successful commercial passenger jet the Boeing 707. Same went for the Boeing 737 in the 1960’s. Boeing was completely starting from scratch when harnessing the new jet technology. Airbus on the other hand started in the early 1980’s. At this point the overall jet design had been mastered and had become the universal blueprint for aircraft makers. So really other then creating their own unique jet design from an existing universal jet design, and adding a few accessories to make their aircraft distinguishable, Airbus never really did have to start from complete “scratch” when building new aircraft like Boeing did. So even though Airbus is winning narrow-body sales (partly due to the help of the European Union) and with the help of mastering lowering the costs and being first in the market, I believe that more experienced Boeing makes better overall aircraft then Airbus.

        • Airbus never created a new design? World’s first widebody twin, first to use composites, first to use supercritical airfoil, first to use wingtip devices, first to use fuel distribution for controlling center of gravity, first to have double-slotted and single-slotted flaps, first to use FBW.

          It truly amazes what garbage one can read online these days.

      • The secret is [edited], Airbus is subsidized by the failing European market Governments. Boeing holds its own with no Government Subsidies from the vastly superior and prosperous US.

        • I do not intend to offend you, however your nationalist opinion is not based by fact. The fact that Boeing is American means nothing, and for subsidies, I have a few questions. Have you ever heard of the KC-135, F-18E/F, Boeing KC-46, P-8, E-3, E-4B, VC-25, 747-8 Air Force One, VC-32, C-42, and more? These are aircraft that the U.S. military has bought, giving Boeing billions of dollars. I do not know the exact number, but I would have to guess that the cash given to Boeing is about the same as Airbus’ subsidies. However, the European market is not failing, with Ryanair, Lufthansa, EasyJet, KLM, etc. all prospering, the last for 98 years. I believe you are biased, though I respect your opinion.

  6. Bryan :
    I guess it says a lot about the 737NG that an unchanged A320 from from 25years ago, still kept pace in the market with their revamped NG. Disappointing
    And that NEO that’s supposed to be 2% worse than the NG is getting all the orders too. I’d be concerned for Boeing. They apparently have the better plane by far and yet still lag behind in market share. Wonder what Airbus’ secret is.

    Steep discounts financed by the EU 😉

    Scott do you have a link to the 787-9 vs A333 comparison. Should be interesting. I think the major advantage of the A330 is its 22 yr earlier EIS & 10 aircraft a month production capacity. Having said that, the A333 was the CASM benchmark until 2007 (A380).

  7. A side note, I have inside information that the C919 is likely dead.

  8. Bryan :
    surely this really has to be up there?

    So where does this stand in your list of marketing BS? 😀

    It’s a slide from Airbus’s A380 product update 2012. Shows a screenshot of the comparison between the A380 and the 747-8i displayed at the Boeing stand at the 2012 ILA Berlin Show.

    – 555 pax A380 burns 5% less fuel per seat than 416 pax 747-400
    – 467 pax 747-8i burns 16% less fuel per seat than 416 pax 747-400

    This has got to be the most outrageous BS by Boeing I’ve ever seen.


  10. Well Airbus’s A320’s Have outsold the737NG’s with 10,000 orders (Jet Blue literally filed the order two days ago) and the 737MAX has less orders than the A320NEO so technically Boeing is LYING about being the best in the market.I am training for the A320 over the 737 because there is more orders witch means a higher chance of finding a job with the plane I love. A320 is more innovative that’s the TRUTH.

    • As of 30 Sept. 2013 the B-737 has 11,222 total orders. 7755 have been delivered and the backlog is 3467.
      The B-737 is the best selling jet airliner in history. The A-320NEO was offered on 1 Dec. 2010, the B-737MAX on 30 August 2011. The NEO had a head start of more than 20 months. The NEO has 2452 firm orders, as of 31 Oct. 2013, including 30 for 2010 and 788 through the end of August 2011.

      That means since the B-737MAX has been offered, the NEO has sold 1668 airplanes, compared to the B-737MAX orders for 1567. So they are about 100 orders apart in the time period both have been offered.

      There are far more military B-737s operating around the world with far more military customers than the A-320 series. Additionally there are many more B-737BBJs around the world than A-319CJ/-320CJs. VIP aircraft customers are the most discriminating customers and know what they want.

      I hope you do find a job flying airliners, Jack. But if I were you, I would not turn down any airplane type just because you like the A-320.

      • 11222 of the 737 includes those that are not accessible to commercial pilots and soon to retire classics? Either way, that number is physically impossible if you know there is 12mo in a year multiply by their average 25 unit delivery capacity since 1988.

      • 11k orders for the 737, huh? Nice! I guess the A320 wasn’t as good of a plane in the late 1960s-late 1980s:)

        But as others have pointed out, it did get better and eventually the A320 outsold the 737NG. Because the A320 is less capable and heavier, that’s why:)

    • Jet Blue is a State Run/Supported Carrier……… may have been started by Americans with no money/credit to buy Boeing (Airbus then offered A320s/variants on a “pay us back when you can credit scheme”)………..was run into the ground and Lufthansa-German Government came to the “rescue”………..with Pressure from Airbus and EU Commission………’s only natural Jet-blue continue taking new Airbus product. Airlines that buy Airbus are usually bought buy EU Run-Supported Carriers and their affiliates (including Asia/North-South America) or bankrupt,bad credit, and start-up Carriers with no infrastructure. EU carriers are required by EU Commission mandates to buy a percentage of Airbus Fleet or face severe penalties. Does that sound like a plane in demand? Nope……….Why does Ryan Air fly all Boeing? planes are easy on the wallet,easy to service and maintain……… come retirement-time……freight companies and developing Nations love to lop-up any type of Boeing plane. Airbus orders (yes may be higher than Boeing) but forced-on sales tells anyone with intelligence how Airbus is able to stay in business and keep the numbers race ahead.
      Do some USA Legacy carriers have Airbus in their fleet? yep………mostly grandfathered-in orders and sales from bankrupt Carries that originally bought/optioned Airbus products. Delta,American,United don’t willingly have Airbus in their fleet……….only old orders and contracts….cheaper to accept planes than fight it out in Court. Hawaiian Airlines is switching over to Airbus……..but mainly because the investment comes from entities with direct-indirect ties with EADS-Airbus. Hawaiian might have a USA sounding front-name for a company “Ranch Capital” but those in the EU that keep Hawaiian in Business call all the shots. Frontier Airlines gets it money to stay in business………..again the pressure to buy Airbus is strong. Pilots/ Pilot Unions prefer Boeing, Embraer and other makes with Yokes and Direct Authority Flight Control Systems over Airbus products any day. Lufthansa,Air France,Emirates, United, Air Canada, Singapore, etc have long waiting lists for its Pilots to transfer over to fly Boeing and Embraer products……virtually no waiting list for Airbus. An idiot with no intelligence with 500 hours in a simulator is all that’s required to “fly” Airbus.

    • How do you define “as good”? The B-737 beats the A-320 on range, pax capacity, and overall operating costs. It is also lighter in weight.

  11. I think that boeing is now in serious trouble with its 73 product, a321lr will tempt too many usa carriers into eads only nb aircraft, both companies order books now reflect this. Ps ryanair fly only 737 planes as boeing virtualy gave them away to get the trade!

  12. I’ ve travelled many times with both planes. A320 makes less noise, rather a smoother flight, much more cute and elegant in appearance (although safety matters above all and not the appearance), spacious, comfortable, and as far as i know is more automated. That’s why I vote for it. A beautiful adorable plane !
    BUT, BUT, BUT , i also fly with the Ryanair Boeing 737-800, which might be totally naked from any inner service, a bit harder in the interior design, but on the other hand it is a doubt-free, robust, capable, and well-forged aircrat from the veteran expert hands of so much experienced Boeing.
    And here, I will definitely underline the fact, according to the Avation link below, that B737-800 is statistically 2 points higher in safety than A320 ! Yes, 16 million hours /accident vs 14 million hours/accident ! Consider that !

  13. I traveled unaccountable times on both aircraft and noticed very deeply, I find A320 is better optimized in capacity, performance and safety. example A 320 can takeoff and land on shorter runway. A320 takes off at higher inclination rate than B737 and goes to the desired altitude faster and that saves huge amount of fuel. Yes landing of A320 is never smooth as B737 despite equiped with automated stabilizing system.

    • Landings on A320s can be smooth. I guess it’s kinda tricky because you have to use the sidestick in flare mode. I think that’s why sometimes the landing can be rough. But sometimes it kisses the ground. Some of the smoothest landings I can remember. US Airways were sometimes particularly good at it.

  14. They both make amazing aircraft, however the true statistics don’t lie.
    The Boeing line of airframes are better engineered and require far less maintenance than Airbus. I have flown Airbus for 8 years now and have grown to love them but our maintenance crews cringe at the thought of c-checks and electronics trouble shooting.

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