Odds and Ends: Middle East carriers high on 777X; Airbus’ Japan ambitions; Low fare airlines

Boeing 777X: Reuters has this article on negotiations between Boeing and Etihad Airlines for the new 777X.  Reuters reports that up to 30 777Xs could be ordered, along with a follow-on order for the 787. Emirates Airlines is expected to order between 75-100 777X. Qatar Airways will almost certainly place a 777X at some point.

The Boeing Board of Directors is expected to give the go-ahead for the 777X this month, with a public launch at the Dubai Air Show next month. Emirates is widely anticipated to place its order there, though its president, Tim Clark, has been quoted in the press that it’s possible he won’t be ready by the air show. Because this air show is in Dubai and the home base for Emirates, it’s quite possible the Etihad and potential Qatar orders would come outside the air show.

Lufthansa Airlines has already ordered the 777X, subject to formal program launch.

Airbus in Japan: Having achieved a major breakthrough with a large order for the A350 from Japan Airlines, Airbus has set some ambitious goals to increase its market share in this country, reports Bloomberg News.

Low Fare Airlines: Images and myths surround low fare airlines. We’ve written many times in the past that the USA’s Southwest Airlines, which built its image since its founding in 1971 at the low fare airline, often isn’t any more. (In fact, we were years ahead of the mainstream media in discovering this.) You can usually get lower fares on the legacy airlines, though bag fees and change fees, if you have check bags or change your flight, destroy the savings. If you don’t have to do either, it’s usually cheaper to fly the legacy airline than Southwest.

In Europe, Ryanair is viewed as the cheapest airline to fly. The base fare is ridiculously low but fees are imposed for everything except using the loo, though CEO Michael O’Leary would like to charge for this, too. This article calculates that in fact Ryanair isn’t the cheapest way to travel. The article rates the top 20 low fare carriers and Ryanair comes in #4.

40 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Middle East carriers high on 777X; Airbus’ Japan ambitions; Low fare airlines

  1. If Boeing can get an ROI on the 777x in five years, they should already be making plans to replace it with a new CFRP airplane in that time, possibly using the same wing as the 777x. Staying ahead in the industry will mean aggressive development. Once the 777x wing is underway, they need to be getting ready to build two new wing designs for a 75t new single aisle and a 150t aircraft in short order.

    • It need not be CFRP. The new generation of Aluminum is almost as good (weight, strength, cost, etc.) if not better than CFRP.

      • If you believe that the 777X aluminium barrel will be better than the A350 CFRP one, then perhaps you’re drinking the kool-aid? 😉

        As for CFRP vs “new generation” aluminium or the Central Reinforced Aluminum (CentrAl) composite material, LCA OEMs seem to be still treating CFRP as a “black metal”. On the A350/787 the individual panels/barrels are using fasteners in relatively large numbers (i.e. to mechanically attach fuselage frames, door frames etc.). In contrast, a composite material typically lend itself to moulding large totally integrated assemblies. When the OEMs will move on from today’s practices, NG-aluminium will be much less competitive with composites, with the exception perhaps on single-aisle aircraft.

      • Surprising how people have stopped drinking the CFRP kool-aid now that Boeing has stopped dishing. I remember how gluttonously most people got drunk on it when Boeing was touting the 787 as the best thing eva.

      • Yes, when the 787 was seemingly touted as the greatest thing since sliced bread, somebody forgot to say that it was really only going to be built using CFRP as a “black metall”, and that consequently, the “enormous” weight savings that are possible with composites would be a challenge for another day

      • @OV-099..and where did I state anything about the A350?

        This is what I was referring to:

        “NEW YORK & PARIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Alcoa and Spirit AeroSystems will debut for the aerospace industry a revolutionary fuselage panel at the 2011 Paris Air Show to highlight the promise of new aluminum-based production solutions for commercial airliners that are dramatically lighter, lower-cost and have lower production risks than composite-intensive aircraft. And importantly, which can be built using existing industry infrastructure.”

        Maybe you should stop being so paranoid and/or “motherly” (i.e.-protective) of the A350. 🙂

      • You implied, didn’t you, that the 777X fuselage will, according to you, be almost as good, if not better if it’s built using “advanced aluminium> rather than if it were to be built using CFRP.

        I’m of the opinion though that if the 777-9X fuselage, or an equivalent sized barrel, would have been built using CFRP, the 777-9X should easily outperform the A350-1000, and not merely matching it on fuel burn per seat. Hence, this has nothing to do with babysitting the A350. Nice try though! 😉

        As for your link, you seem to have missed out on what type of platform the new aluminium material is best suited for.

        Quote: “To be unveiled on Alcoa’s exhibit stand at the Paris Air Show (Hall 5, Stand F220), the 200 X 78-inch fuselage panel was stretch-formed by Spirit AeroSystems using existing production tooling, underscoring the compatibility of Alcoa’s third-generation aluminum-lithium alloys with today’s supply chain. This major advantage is particularly attractive for single-aisle jetliner programs that demand quick production ramp-up and high output rates, and offers a lower risk solution to the much more complex supply chain for composite material manufacturing.


        So, the 777X could be using a “new” aluminium material which actually is better suited for single aisles having a much higher production output, yet it will ensure that the 777X barrel will outperform a similar barrel made out of CFRP. Yeah, right!

    • IMJ, the wing of the 777-8X/-9X seems to be too small to be re-used on a large all New, twin-family consisting of two or three members, and where each member is a fully optimised aircraft; i.e. not like the A345/A346 and 77L/77W where the smallest members only are optimised for URL flights.

      Also, re-using the wing 777X-wing on a larger, all new composite Family may be problematic due to the fuselage frame spacing, For example, the lower lobe radius on the A350 barrel is roughly identical to the lower lobe radius on the A330. However, the fuselage frame spacing is 25 inches (0.635 m) on the 350 and on the A380, while it is 21 inches (0.535 m) on the A330. In comparison, the fuselage frame spacing on the 777 and 787 is 21 and 24 inches respectively.

      For a perspective on why this might be problematic if you change the fuselage frame spacing, please take a look at the image on page 10 of the following link showing the centre wing boxes of the A320 and the A380 :


      NB: Notice how the fuselage frames are integrated with the front end and the aft end of the centre wing boxes.

    • ROI in 5 years? The 777-x project is not a simple ‘neo’ style upgrade. Are you sure? What are the projected cost for the 777-x program??

    • If Boeing can get an ROI on the 777x in five years,

      How is that supposed to work if they only start delivering the first frames (and taking in more than “just” the order deposits) six years from now? If we guesstimate a break-even point at ~250 frames delivered, you’d be looking at ~2022 for the programme to break even, and that’s assuming they hit 8 deliveries/month right from the start.

  2. Hasn’t Clark said he needs to replace 175 B777s? He didn’t say, but I can guess, that some of his A350 order will go into that job. 75-100 means that Boeing only gets to replace half the B777 fleet. It also means that GE will only sell 150-200 new engines under the wing to Emirates for B777s as opposed to the 360 engines it has sold them for A380s. Clark talks about a 120 aircraft A380 fleet in the future and says some of the existing 90 aircraft ordered will be used to replace the existing fleet, so I guess Emirates could want upwards of 500 more A380 engines and we know he wants something better than the existing GP-7000. Could keeping the A380 business, and replacing the A380 fleet when it comes, be worth more to GE than the B777-X business? How would that effect the resources which GE will want to spend on the GEn-9X?

    • It could be 75-100 for now with possible options. We really don’t know yet.

    • Clark is on record saying that:

      – Emirates will start replacing its fleet of A380s by new A380s starting from 2020, so there is an “automatic replacement” requirement for another 90 A380s (on top of the 90 currently ordered).

      – If Dubai’s airport constraints could be resolved, Emirates could take “many more” A380s, possibly doubling its fleet size.


      • OV-099-
        – Emirates will start replacing its fleet of A380s by new A380s starting from 2020, so there is an “automatic replacement” requirement for another 90 A380s (on top of the 90 currently ordered).

        I wouldn’t doubt this to be true, but the question would be: If Emirates start replacing its A380 fleet after about ten years of use, who will buy this second hand aircraft and for how much? 90 A380 is a big number. If you cannot place these aircraft with an airline willing to take them, then their prices depreciate quickly. How much will Emirate will be willing to pay for a new one?

      • Emirates, apparently, has a policy of retiring and replacing aircraft after 12 years of operation, not 10 years. As for their current A380 fleet and the remaining A380s on order, the first one will be replaced in 2020 and the last one in 2029. Hence, you won’t suddenly have 90 EK A380s on the second hand market. In fact, 10 years from now, Emirates will “only” have retired some 20 A380s. I wouldn’t be too surprised id quite a few airlines would be interested in buying a cheap A380 a decade hence.

        In 2005 Lufthansa, the German national airline, reported that it depreciated its aircraft over 12 years on a straight-line basis, with an estimated residual value of 15 percent of initial cost. Air France-KLM, an airline formed by the merger of the French airline Air France and the Dutch airline KLM reported its aircraft depreciation was also estimated using the straight-line Method but assuming an average life of 20 years and no salvage value.


        Tim Clarke at 24:14:

        We didn’t order these to be delivered overnight, so if you look at the 175 -ERs, the delivery stream will finish by 2022/2023. In the process the older -ERs which came in — given the 12 year rule — will start to be retired and phased out. Equally, the first A380s — the first A380 that was given to us in July 2008 — will be retired in July 2020, and a new one will replace it. So, as far as Airbus is concerned, they can see a continuum of orders coming from Emirates for A380s, simply on retirement. But, if you then add the incremental units that if we could, we would buy, then it’s another ballpark altogether — and of course we have asked them to make the thing a bit bigger, but there doesn’t seem to be too much interest in that at the moment — but anyway, we’ll see.


      • Lots of “hypothetical scenarios” with your post here and we’ve been through this recently.

      • “Lots of “hypothetical scenarios” with your post here and we’ve been through this recently.”

        Yes, and you left the discussion when I pointed out that, according to Clark; “if Dubai’s airport constraints could be resolved, Emirates could take “many more” A380s, possibly doubling its fleet size. 😉

        This was a response to you seemingly stating with the utmost certainty that “EK isn’t going to have 180 A380s at one time”.


      • MartinA, I’m not sure why a smaller degradation factor for the A380 should be a problem for Airbus. If anything, a less degraded A380 should have more value after 12 years.

        The A388 will have significant checks at 24 months, 6 years (D-check) and 12 years (D-check). Emirates will apparently only want to pay for one D-check. Also, they don’t do major modifications to the cabins of their in-service aircraft. Hence a 12 year old Emirates aircraft will have a relatively run-down cabin. Thus they seemingly prefer to spend their money on all new cabins on all new aircraft.

      • Nothing like planned obsolescence to keep sales up. Seriously though, I wonder how much the low degradation factor played in Doric’s A380 MoU/Order, whatever it really is now.

  3. I thought the A-350s for EK were to replace the A-330s and A-340s (36 airplanes). Is that not correct? EK has some of the oldest and heaviest A-380s, those are the airplanes he wants to replace, not the younger models. But no one is talking about a reengined and newer version of the A-380 that I have heard. I don’t see where GE, RR, or PW can afford to develop a new engine just for the A-380 market right now. I have not heard of any Airbus plan to reengine the A-380, either. The only new version that anyone talks about is the A-380-900, and even that is doubtful for years unless airline and leasing customers demand it from Airbus.
    GE is committed to develop the GE-9X NG engine for the B-777X. The sales potential for this engine is far more than a new GE engine for the A-380. The B-777X could have 200 orders by the end of this year, that is 400 new GE-9X engines, plus spares. That number alone is approaching the 500 new A-380 engines for EK. But EK is only talking about adding 30 A-380s (EK already has 30 options) to their current fleet and those currently on order, plus the replacement of early A-380s. The early ones number about < than 10, so the max order would be about 40 new A-380s, or about 160 new engines for a reengined version.
    Reengining would take a few years of development plus time for a STC. So we may be talking about 4-5 years before the first one could be delivered to EK so they could replace/expand their A-380 fleet, not counting development time for the engine itself.

    • Clark is the only one talking about it, I think he is trying to pressure GE, maybe it is a threat to go RR?

    • TB, I would agree with you except that an engine family which starts at 60K can probably stretch to 95K, that covers the whole Airbus WB range and the B787. Potentially a lot more engines than the GE-9 will ever be worth. If Clarke is serious about demanding new tech in future A380s he could force GE into putting more work into the GP-7000 in order to stop him giving P+W a 500 engine order to start with. I doubt if P+W are interested in the GP-7000 in the long run, which would put the burden on GE, they need to keep Emirates happy or Clark might “give birth” to competition in the bigger market covered by the GEnx. I guess GE will look to the A330 replacement as a potential GEnx and the last thing they will want is a new GTF in the works.

      • I’m not too sure if GE will be on the next Airbus WB. If Airbus asks for a RFP for say, a combined A380-re-engining programme and new regional WB, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see PW and RR selected with GE left out in the Cold.

        John Leahy has accused GE of playing favorites.

        Quote: “The problem we have with GE is they go to Seattle and say, ‘What kind of engine should we design for your airframe?’” said Leahy. “Then they come to Toulouse and say, ‘Here is the kind of airframe you need to build to fit our engine.’”

        Spat Between Airbus, General Electric Over A350 XWB Engines Deepens


        Has GE ever offered a clean-sheet design for an Airbus aircraft? Even the GP7200 engine was AFAIK originally designed for the 747-500X/-600X. GE has seemingly tossed its cap over the wall to Boeing’s side and have no choice but to follow it.

      • That last paragraph was intended as a question if ever GE has offered an all new engine for an Airbus wide-body jet.

      • I though it was Boeing which had tossed it’s cap to GE! They are addicted to GE financing at least. I would say GE and Boeing have become pretty reliant on each other.

      • I think a P+W and RR joint venture would be very hard to beat, if they can bury the hatchet. P+W own GTF but RR have more materials know how. Put together and I think GE would hurt.

    • The thrust required for an A380-800F or A380-900 on each engine is about the thrust required for an A350-800.

      Do you remember that timeline:
      A350-900: 1/4 2015
      A320neo : 3/4 2015
      A319neo : 1/4 2016
      A321neo : 3/4 2016
      A350-800: 4/4 2016
      A350-1000:3/4 2017

      What will Airbus do after what? Just looking around how Boeing is building the 787-1000 in 2018, the 777-9X in 2020 and 777-8X in 2021? What will Airbus put out in these 3 years?

      My guess is that after the A350-1000 an A380-800F or an A350-200 is possible. The -200 will have an A310 size wing maybe with folding wing tips.
      The threat is Airbus could close the gap between A321 and 350-800 much earlier than Boeing could close the gap between B737-9 and B787-3/8

  4. I think we have to remember Emitates commited to a large number of A350s early on. -1000s too. So those will start entering the fleet years before any 777X. Same for QR, Ethihad and LH. The 777X will not be boxed between the 350 and 380, but they have to position the 777X well.
    Years before the design freeze (2016?), I foresee many further adjustment on the wings, cabins, engines (11x k lbs?) cockpits, which will strenghten the bussiness case.

  5. Intresting to see the European LCC lined up, too bad the legacy airlines have not been included!

  6. On Ryanair, what isn’t considered when looking at price is convenience (I kid you not). I live in Hackney (East London). LCY and Stansted are the most convenient airports for me (I have a motorway taking me to Stansted in 40 mins, parking is cheap). I usually travel to Hahn (rarely), Perugia, or Pescara. Now I could go for free on BA or Star Alliance from LHR (or LCY to Milano, using Avios or Miles on M&M, of which I have more than I can shake a stick at). But then I either have to change planes (to get to Italy on *A) or end up in Rome or Florence (on BA). By the time I added the inconvenience, cost of getting to the airport with a taxi (family of four) versus my own car, rental car in Italy versus family pick up at Perugia (her parents) or Pescara (mine), Ryanair wins every time on price. It’s not even a contest.

    • The article (and the statistics presented within) only gives an average – nobody claimed that FR is only 4th-cheapest no matter what your personal circumstances/itinerary is.
      Case in point: Unfortunately, not everybody has family in Pescara and Perugia that make pick-up there so much cheaper than at Florence or Rome.

      Regarding those extra costs you mention – if they did consider those and compared e.g. parking costs at Perugia to those at Florence (for example), you’d get people complaining that this really isn’t any good to them, because the cost (and time) of getting from Perugia to Florence (where they actually want to go) far offsets the money saved on the cheaper parking.

  7. Why would anyone in their right mind want to go to Florence if they can be in Perugia? 😀 I rest my case.

    And sure, if I wasn’t a middle-aged who travels too much for work but a student, I’d use my miles to fly on BA or LH. But oh, I wouldn’t have any :p

  8. I agree with Andreas, for my point of view, if you don’t live in a capital city; Ryanair’s biggest advantage is that there is a good chance that is your only option to fly 🙂

  9. “Low Fare Airlines”

    I would have expected better from Leeham, or maybe not seeing how it is cosy with industry elitism. The true is that it depends on the route and also the time of the year. The only thing that matters is to check the prices at flight time. Here in Europe Ryanair sometimes can be the cheaper and sometimes not.

  10. TC “Staying ahead in the industry will mean aggressive . ”

    Apart from “staying ahead” as you state, first “catching up” in the NB, VLA and big twin segments is important for Boeing. Contrary to most, I think Boeing needs to focus on a middle of the market NB. Unbeatable around 170-175 seats up to 3 hours and doing a good job 150-200 seats, up to 2500 NM without cargo. more capable means heavier too, specially 150 seats 600NM where most of the action is.

    The Airbus A320 is ~postioned like that IMO, although the 180 seat A320s are very tight. Some improvements in the making though. Typical 180 seat A320 seat chart:

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