Emirates’ mid-range choice

By Bjorn Fehrm

Nov. 10 2015, ©. Leeham Co: The Dubai Air Show is on its second day and there are no mega orders. The one that should have been, the mid-range requirement for Emirates Airline, has been postponed, not only to “next year” but for “another year.”

What is the reason? Are we seeing a widebody oversupply fueled by used Boeing 777s/Airbus A330s being available in the market “for very low prices,” as suggested by Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson? Are these the first signs of a damping of an order bonanza which has been going on for five years? Will things be more quiet (or should we say normal) going forward?

We don’t think so. Emirates just want to make the right choice and the equation has got more complicated as it has been working the problem. And it is in no hurry.

Emirates mid-range, Phase 1

Emirates placed an order for 70 Airbus A350-900s and -1000s when they were in their original definition “and the A350-1000 “was a good 10-12 hour airplane,” according to Emirates CEO Tim Clark. Not only was it less capable than today’s A350-1000, it was also more efficient.

The increase of the range of the -1000 that followed (without asking Emirates for consent) increased the fuel consumption on shorter distances, as it now was a heavier aircraft. At the same time, Boeing launched the 787-10, designed to be the perfect mid-range aircraft with a size which would be between the A350-900 and -1000 and with better economics than both.

Emirates mid-range phase 2.

Consequently Emirates use their right to cancel the A350 order as changes had been done and it was not consulted. The mid-range project now went from information gathering to a request for proposal, with decision during 2015. The experts saw it as a slam dunk for 787-10, the shoe-in for a mid-range requirement in the 300-350 seat range. The A350-900 was invited a second time to keep Boeing honest.

As Emirates did their numbers, they started to see the good and the less good sides of the proposed aircraft. The 787-10 was indeed the economical aircraft for up to 10-12 hours they sought but its roomy cargo pit could not be fully loaded all days of the year. On the Dubai hot days, the engines lacked the necessary grunt for maxed-out take-offs.

Boeing was asked to come back with stronger engines. The problem was the engines were already stretched 20% for the -10 and there is nothing more to give. At the same time, Airbus increased the A350-900 and -1000 seating with 15 seats by rearranging galleys, and the seating advantage of the 787-10 over the -900 was now gone.

Emirates mid-range phase 3.

As issues with 787-10 surfaced, the A350-900 went into service with first operator, neighboring Qatar Airways. Feedback was good, not only from the airline but also from the passengers. Feedback from 787 passengers in comparison was mixed. While business class passengers praised the comfort, the economy passengers complained. Emirates know full well what a rumor of a comfortable aircraft can do for their load-factors. Their Airbus A380 passengers vote with their money.

As the gap between A350-900 and 787-10 got closer, the -10 is the maximum size in the family. Emirates “are creatures of size and scale” says Clark. An A350 choice has the attraction of a larger variant if needed, the -1000. But its economics will be very dependent on how well Airbus can keep the weight creep under control. Better wait until the first test aircraft prove where Airbus is on this touchy subject and on overall performance.

This is all known this time next year. This is in our view the real reason for the Emirates postponing their decision from “next year” to “in one year.”

79 Comments on “Emirates’ mid-range choice

  1. I think this is about price. Say the A350-1000 is a little heavier then hoped, so what? .. will Clark then buy 777-8s (30t heavier..) for those routes?

    The A350-1000 looks to become an excellent aircraft, Airbus asks a premium $50mln over the A350-900. UA, DL, SQ,CX, JAL, BA, AF, LH voted with their wallets.

    Emirates cancelled 70 valuable A350 slots in 2014. That hurt in Toulouse. Now EK are having new insights / second thoughts. Leahy has new slots and new prices for them. Things have changed.


    For reference. Two years ago the 787-10 was a “done deal” for Lufthansa. Guru Udvar Hazy learned us: “We looked at the route networks of the major intercontinental carriers and came to the conclusion that the 787-10 can operate effectively in about 95% of the routes that are currently served by aircraft such as [Airbus] A340s, [Boeing] 777-200s, 777-300s, 747-400s and so on,”

    So that was set, we thought. After skipping the 787 Lufthansa told us:

    “The 787-9 is too small for our requirements and the 787-10 does not have the necessary range for around 40% of the destinations,” says Carsten Spohr, CEO of the passenger airline division.”

    Does Boeing have an issue 300-350 seats over 8000NM? Hell will freeze before they’ll ever admit. Maybe they need that bigger 787 wing after all.

    • The OEM’s nominal range is with pax+bags only, operators want to take-off at close to MZFW with cargo as well, this and real world reserves etc cuts the nominal range with at least 20-30%.

      • Interesting, thanks. I suppose it would be a squeeze fitting lavs+galley back there in a 787.

        Always grateful when folks avoid the OEM seat width mumbo jumbo. It’s amazing that people can believe that one or the other OEM has somehow managed to fit “18 in seats” into fewer total inches per pax than the other. It’s as if some Airbus/Boeing fans think their side of the pond has re-engineered basic arithmetic or found a fifth dimension in their cabins…

          • True about Boeing and their fans.

            But Airbus does this too, especially with the 11-abreast A380.

          • I travelled on a UA 777 years ago in 2:5:2 layout and just HATED it, and 777s since. Now there’s 10 seats on most airlines.

            I’m not a fan of the 18in promo crap BUT boring really doesn’t give a crap about folk that aren’t in the front.

            I think the 11-abreat configuration for the a380 is going to be an option for resale and reconfiguration for mass-transit Haj type use on secondhand examples.

          • BA and Qatar have 9 abreast econ on the 787 and 777. Confusion prevails. Boeing went too small on the 787 width. Who will stick with 9 on the 777x? The easy answer, buy an A350 or an A330neo.

          • IMO, Boeing was so aggressive in their one-upmanship over the A330 that they didn’t see the forest for the trees. They seemingly forgot to think strategically about how you size the cross section of a modern 9 abreast airliner. Of course, one problem couls have been that the 777 is really a 9.5 abreast airliner. By making the cross section of the 787 slightly larger, they could have felt that it would have been too close in size to the 777.

            Apparently, Boeing believed that being able to offer a 9 abreast seating configuration (-/option) on the 787, at 737-comfort levels, would spell doom over the “inferior” A300/A330 cross section. Having convinced themselves that there were no problems with 737 comfort levels on long haul flights, they then went ahead and launched the 777X. IMJ, Boeing wouldn’t have launched the 777X if the 787 had been designed with the same cross section as that of the A350XWB – instead, they would have gone ahead with an all new frame (IMJ). Having been forced to respond to the A350-1000, they had to develop an all new wing anyway, but they probably would have realised that they couldn’t use the inferior 777 cross section on a true 10 abreast long haul aircraft – an aircraft that would be inferior to a 787XWB, comfort-wise.

            It’s pretty ironic, isn’t it, that the A330neo at 8 abreast is able to compete nicely with the 787 at 9 abreast. At 9 abreast, though, the A330neo seems to be superior, CASK-wise, for Asian LCCs.

            Here’s Randy Basseler pontificating about the “superior max headroom” of the 787 vs. the supposedly inferior A350Mk1 (A330) cross section that can’t offer a “superior environment” with 737-levels of seat comfort on long haul flights.

            I got this email some time back from Dale in Melbourne, Australia, and I’ve been meaning to address this very subject here in the blog:

            Randy, could you please clarify a couple of points for me? Is the 787 configured at 9-abreast offering the same level of seat comfort as an 8-abreast A350? What level of comfort does the A350 go down to at 9-abreast?

            Well Dale, I’m going to clarify those questions for you right now.

            As you’ve probably heard, when we designed the 787, one of the things we wanted to do was provide a superior environment for the passenger. Everything from the comfort of the seats you sit in, to the refreshing atmosphere inside the cabin, the lighting, the open architecture, the whole scheme of things.


    • That’s just LH though. I can’t imagine that you can use them a a measuring stick just because they went publpublic with their reason for its decision. Yes they’re a global airline but how do you then explain the other operators who have bought it? Is what Udvar Hazy said suddenly not true anymore because (1) customer says it doesn’t fit their route structure. Come on ….

      I don’t think EK would want more 778’s, they’d just buy the 781. The 778 and the A35K are more closely related when you are speaking of missions for long haul travel, not regional.

        • There cant be anyone worse than Swiss for making the wrong choices- over and over.
          Convair CV-990 , Yep. MD-11 yep, which was quickly replaced by A340, oh dear, and now the 340s are going , replaced by the B777-300ER – just before it goes out of production.
          Maybe they have their mojo back, but is that the Cseries coming soon to a Swiss ramp near you ?

        • The 737 bombed? Seems pretty successful aircraft to me.

          747 was a bomb as well. Done quite well.

          Granted the latest versions aren’t what we would like but then the current management isn’t what it was either.

          • Original version sold so slowly Boeing is alleged to have considered selling the program to Mitsubishi, I´m sure you know

          • Thats all in hindsight.
            Im sure he means the first few years. CFM engine was the same, sat on the shelf for a while after Boeing dropped re engining the 707.
            DC-8 did use it and USAF wanted it for KC-135, thus saving GEs bacon until Boeing squeezed it under their babys wing.

          • While I do know it sold slowly at the time I was also where its early market was and it was highly respected and admired up here.

            That was no untypical back in those days while markets were sorting out, forming not to mention the regulated environment where things did move slow.

    • Just like the 250 sales of the 777X you have mentioned in the past? The 787-10 is not an issue, and there is no need to admit an issue. Let’s be up front the A350 family is an excellent program, as is the 787 family. Airlines have to make decisions based on their operating profile. In some cases the A350 work and in others the 787 work.

      You have proven that with your stance on the A321, and maybe you should learn to appreciate the fact that both companies make frames for market segements. Neither can provide all solutions for all applications. LH said no, but 1000 plus other sales the 787 is fine. RIght?

      U-Turn Al said the A350 was an excellent aircraft, and then at the 25th delivery he said the 787 has met, and in some cases exceeded, his expectations. Guess you and the crowd on here would say he said that because he was in Seattle. Well Scott has proven being in Seattle means nothing about holding your toungue about the hometown OEM.

      Hey Keesje- I understand the way the A330NEO was able to meet the 787 performance was by adding a few seats? I guess I have a hard time getting that as a winning solution given that no airline uses the OEM’s standard seat layout. If the 787-9 is outperforming targets, and the 787-10 continues on the same glidepath, maybe the wing you mention may not be necessary? Will that mean the A330-900 is really dead before departure? In some cases yes, in other cases the A330-900 price difference and lower performance will be fine. But those decisions will be based on operator requirements, and not the claims of an Airbus fan. Be careful about your proclaimations before the story is fully complete because you have been known to wrong about your deathblows of the Boeing widebody family.

      Last point, the A330 family has sold 1,200 plus frames, the 787 has sold 1,000 plus frames and there are 350 flying. It took the A330 25 years to get to 1,200 plus and now the 787 has 350 flying and it has been in the sky for how long? We are living in a very different world, maybe we have an over supply of widebodies and it makes sense? Maybe EK has too many 777s in their fleet making it hard to dump them at the rates the market can absorb profitablity for EK’s needs? If that’s case the 787 has done something that the A350 will never be able to match, why? The ramp of the program’s production might have been too slow to offset the glut of 777 dumping? Slots may not be as important as they were a few years ago?

      • I understand the way the A330NEO was able to meet the 787 performance was by adding a few seats?

        You can also reverse that.
        The 787 initially was offered as an 8 across airframe much more comfortable than the A330 😉

        Official 787 seating layouts got changed from 8 across to 9 across to actually appear competitive to the A330 back in the time when …

        the 9across arrangement on the 787 seems to overstress the “Duldungsstarre” of a significant traveler percentage.

  2. Mid-range phase 4 might be the decision for the A380 Neo.Emirates is waiting for the „Green Light“ from Airbus for the enhanced version of the Superjumbo.

    Personally, I can see a split order in the midrange section to keep both manufactorers happy and willing to „tweak“ future versions of planes for their special needs.

    • I can see a split order as a possibility as well. EK is really two airlines, like QANTAS, one side is about quality, margin and deals in putting well off passengers on 380s and 9 wide 777s while the other side is like Jetstar and deals in low price seats to labourers and developing world pax on 777s in 10 wide format. So apart from weight considerations in Dubai two types might be justified, assuming they don´t go as far as 10 wide in some A350s as well.

  3. Thanks for the info Bjorn.

    Any word on whether Boeing plans a seating – optimization for the 787, and whether this would restore the -10’s capacity edge over A359? It’s a physically bigger cabin after all, seems like Boeing is giving away value by not matching Airbus and it’s own 777’s optimization efforts.

  4. I guess James Hogan never got the memo on the 10’s performance on extreme dessert conditions. ..

    • Funny you should mention Hogan. He has 24 A350 regionals on order in addition to the 787-10s. Perhaps he did get the memo early on?

  5. In addition to Bjorn’s conclusion about the reason why Emirates postponed its decision, I would add that John Leady took the opportunity of the DAS to talk about the potential “350-1100” (actually it’s not his favorite naming). This kind of statement is probably aimed at the “creatures of size and scale” at Emirates.

  6. If the A-330 and 350 are proper 8 and 9 abreast aircraft then the 787 and 777 are proper 8.5 and 9.5 abreast aircraft. (the 777x with its added width is by this argument a proper 9.7 abreast aircraft)

    The 787 and 777 started out as very generous 8 and 9 abreast aircraft but competitive pressure to have better (best?) cost per seat/mile have pushed them to 9 and 10.

    We who are economy class passengers care most about cost, cost and schedule (safety is assumed). We get what we are willing/able to pay for.

    All else equal in cost and schedule, in a choice between 787 and either 330 or 350 I’d go for the 787 because of the big windows (I’m a 65 year old kid who likes to look outside the plane) but in reality cost and schedule are rarely equal.

    These planes are what they are and airlines make (mostly) well informed decisions. Both OEMs planes will sell partly because a near monopoly by one would mean higher prices.

    • Sure, cost is a big factor, but then airlines don’t exactly give you a seating spec when you’re buying a ticket.

      That’s why websites like http://www.seatguru.com exist (though I see it’s now owned by Trip Advisor…). I notice that you can search for flights on there now, and you can sort results by “G-Factor”.

      This table at http://www.seatguru.com/charts/longhaul_economy.php is interesting to play with. The trick I guess is being able to tell exactly what aircraft is being offered for a given ticket.

      An airline could make it clear that the extra fare they’re asking bought 2″ of seat width. Long haul is always a big outlay for anyone on a budget, and if the extra space were moderately priced vs the competition (say, £50) then it would probably be a serious temptation. Two inches extra for 12+ hours could feel really classy.

      Looking at that it seems that several Far Eastern airlines offer a lot of width (Asiana – 21″ on 8-accros A330, and not stingey with leg room either!).

      • The stakes are high. There’s any enormous lobby trying to convince everyone you won’t notice the extra inch width, you pay for what you get, its all the same, typical for this time, up to the airlines etc.

        The operators and builders of these specific 9 and 10 abreast cabins have an enormous financial interest in keeping the issue quiet while Airbus throws oil on the fire.


        • As you may know airlines have purchased the 787, the airlines decided to cram the seats in, not Boeing. The first business model was 8 across, then Airbus did the XWB to SAVE face for missing the mark on the first A359. Guess Boeing should take the market leading frame off the market to appease you? Not, so it is what it is.

          • “…the airlines decided to cram the seats in, not Boeing….”

            That’s basically nonsense. The airlines choose the seat pitch while the manufacturer is responsible for the sizing of the fuselage cross section – and consequently, the practical seat width standard.

          • OV-999- yes the Airlines choose the seat pitch based on the markets they are choosing to serve!!! Boeing designed the frame to address the feedback from market demand THROUGH MARKET STUDIES. The width of the interior was not done by Boeing alone, the airlines defined the requirements based on common requirements. Kind of why Boeing has been able to sell 1,100 frames. You are very correct. Airbus offered the wider interior to address and offset the A330 space. And, maybe Airbus did market studies as well which might explain how they were able to get 800+ sales for the A350? Long and short neither missed the mark considering the A330 has 1,200 copies over 25 years. Seat width is seat width and you and your buddy Mr. K need to find another topic cuase the ship has sailed and both OEMs are hitting the points their customers requested or desired. Maybe in the end when the real performance numbers come in the Boeing customers will go back to the 8 across they asked for in the focus groups. If not, lose weight because at 10/year the A350 will be a long time getting to your point to point destinations.

            Your earlie

          • @L7

            Why don’t you provide some documentation/analysis in order to support your claims(s).

            I can provide one analysis here – from before the 7E7 was re-named the 787. I couldn’t find anything, though, where customers demanded 17-inch seat widths at 9 abreast. In the specifications in the link below, the baseline model 7E7 was 182 feet long and seating 200 passengers in a three class configuration. That’s obviously a configuration with the economy class at 8 abreast.

            The concept of Boeing 7E7 is driven by customer requirements. Based on the discussion with over 40 airlines throughout the world, Bair identified a fresh market to replace mid-size plane that could travel long distances and lower operating costs. Boeing was considering two new members for the 7E7 family, which are a basic and a stretch version.

            The Boeing 7E7 baseline is a super-efficient airplane with new passenger-pleasing features. It will bring the economics of large jet transports to the middle of the market, using 20% less fuel than any other airplane its size.

            • Seating: 200 passengers in three-class configuration – 300+ in single-class configuration

            • Range: 6600 nautical miles

            • Configuration – twin-aisle

            • Cross section: 226 inches

            • Wing span: 186 feet

            • Length: 182 feet


      • “(Asiana – 21″ on 8-accros A330, and not stingey with leg room either!).”
        Is that really true? But how? If that was true, then they could easily put 9 across at 18 inches as if you take away 3 inches from 8 seats that will equal 24 extra inches for another seat at 18″ and still have 6 inches left for bigger isle.
        I wonder what AirAsia is doing wrong with their 9 across seating at only 16.9 inches.

          • I would say is seems like an accurate description on the avaiable seat width. Seems like they have added the seath width and one armrest to get the avaiable width from the middle of one seat to the middle of the adjacent seat. Thereby they dont fall for the trick of having a seemingly wide seat but a very narrow arm rest.

            When I am flying, the actual seat width is no problem, I always fit my hip between the armrests, but the problem is width for my shoulders and arms. So I would be very fine with a 17 inch wide seat as long as the armrest was say 4 inches wide. If you only specified seat width this seat would look very cramped, but do it as seatguru does and you would get 21 inches which would be very comfortably, wich it definitely would be, as I wouldn’t rub my arms against the person next to me as I now always do in a 17 inch seat on a 737 for example.

          • Ahh, I was too quick in ansvering. I now see the problem with seatguru. It seems like for some Airlines/planes they specify seat width + armrest, and for other ones they specify seath width only.

            Quite correct that this makes it impossible to compare relaiably.

            But I still stand by my opinion that the industry standard should be to specify seat width from the middle of one seat to the middle of the adjacent seat, the same as width between armrest + the width of one armrest.

  7. Took my first 787 flight last month, oddly on a domestic UA leg from SFO to IAH. I thought as wide-body it might be more comfortable than the typical aircraft that services that route (737NG), but the seats were equally cramped, and the aisles were incredibly narrow (hard to walk down by myself without bumping passengers, and I’m a skinny guy, let alone while carrying my two-year old daughter). Ironically, the cramped conditions, dated interior, and weird electronic windows made it overall significantly less comfortable than the brand-new EMB-175 UA Express regional jet that we took earlier in the month. The only positive was the large overhead bins, but I don’t really care about that since I get free checked bags as UA Gold anyway. Hope I don’t get stuck on a 787 for any overseas flights.

    • Hey Mike what you did not know was you were on a 737! Sorry, sad you did not enjoy the 787, bad news more will be in the air.

  8. Does anyone know if aluminium fuselage sidewalls are thicker than composites? I would imagine that they are owing to fibre orientation and the fact that they are over built for impact resistance.

    • I don’t know what the measurements are but the composite is one thick item. I was pretty shocked.

      I think aluminum is a lot thinner but only had the cross section of the 787 to look at.

  9. EK played Airbus!!! They never were going to buy the 787. EK wanted the 380NEO all along. Airbus would never have done the NEO if EK had gone thru with A350 purchase. They used Boeing to present a good price for the 787 they were never going to buy. Leahy wanted to win it back so bad he gave away the A350s and is now ready to give EK the A380 too. Boeing made it clear they were not playing the game for an order that was not going to happen. EK keeps pushing it out so the man Leahy can get his house to buy in on all the giveaways Airbus has to provide to stick it to Boeing. EK said they would be willing to take the phantom 20, and Leahy said he had 32 more. All that’s for the accounting boys who know this entire “stick it to Boeing” deal stinks long term. Hey Leahy, prove your the man and raise the A350 price to list and really stick it to EK!! It’s your deal now.

    • @L7

      Hi, I think you almost too Machiavellian in your thinking but I tend to agree with you. Mr Clark appears to have written himself into a corner in trying to get what he wants.

      He likes the 781 because it is economical but it is not capable enough and he likes the 351 because it is capable but beaten on economics. Weld you can’t have everything (my mother told me that).

      Add in the desire to get 389NEO off the ground maybe Mr Leahy is showing a backbone and pushing harder than you would expect. I am sure the A380 orders are far more important to JL than more of a backlog on the 350 programme. So price up the 351 to make proper money and see whether EK will bite

  10. Not that I would ever fly on an airline of a country that sponsors Islamic terrorism, Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker sounded a ringing endorsement of the brilliant 787, even in the hot gulf.

    Al Baker declared the Boeing 787 to be a “game changer” “Being the second-largest operator of the 787s, we are very delighted with the performance of this aircraft.”

    I realize this doesn’t reference the 787-10 directly, but this tête–à–tête between EK and Airbus/Boeing is just a triangulation game.

    ~ The Infidel Alliance

    • No way? Way? a big A350 customer who slammed the 787 at the A350 delivery would be willing to call the 787 a game changer. Oh and he also said the seat were to small too.

      On another note did anyone notice that U-Turn and Richard “I hate the M3”, said the same things about the Airbus products? Seems Mr Anderson and U Turn have more in common? Maybe when they become really best friends Mr Anderson can buy U-Turn’s used 787s? They will go well with his outdated A330NEOs, and the A350s he will have flying given the current rate of 10-16 per year.

  11. Thank you Bjorn for another good article. If i may add a few comments; when the Emirates order was originally placed the world was in a very different economic world esp. Dubai and it was envisaged the new (at that time 6 runway) DWC would be being built by 2015 which would have the capacity to accept additional aircraft. The changes that have taken place since caused a rethink and i would add Emirates will need to consider the make of engines available, their noise both inside (I personally find the 787 with either engine option noisy inside) and outside. Also from a network expansion point of view, they will need to have a compact aircraft in their fleet as there are key airports around the world that will never be able to accept the A380 and the 777X (the folding wing tip needs to be proven and it’s going to be a heavy plane) to be a ‘friendly’ aircraft to get into new developing markets

    • Dubai was certainly short of cash. The tallest building in the world is in Dubai, and is called the Burj Kalifa.

      A relative livinng there told me that it *was* going to be called Burj Dubai (I remember seeing signs with that name on), but on the opening night the name was changed, apparently as the ribbon was cut live on TV. Everyone thought a mistake had been made…

      Kalifa is the family name of the Royal Family in Abu Dabi, who had just bailed out Dubai. Changing the name of the tower was part of the price.

  12. Lots of emotional comments about seats and the number of them abreast.
    I would ask the Boeing boys to fly in a Qatar 787 for a 12 hour flight. Lets see what you say about the 29.5 inch seat pitch and 9 abreast seating after experiencing it first-hand. Imaging sitting the entire journey and not being able to use the arm-rest as I felt sorry for the poor guy in the middle. Funny how getting your elbow knocked by the trolley because the aisles are so narrow. The seat rows are such that you cannot stand in a free area around the exits any-more as the pax queuing for the toilets are there.

    I had to fly 4 legs in a Qatar jet, 2 in 787’s and two in 330’s. We experienced 2 delays due to technical problems – one meant changing to another plane. You can guess which of the planes had technical problems.

    Of course the CEO will be raving about the economics of their configurations – they pack passengers in like sardines. I will never get into another Qatar plane – so one wonders how much longer Qatar will continue to brag about their 787’s.

    • What I find odd is the complaints but then people still fly.

      Vote with your pocket book!

      If enough people refuse to fly those seats then it will change (or push for legislation to mandate seat width and leg room, it was done for sitting on the ground issues)

      What all those people who travel when they don’t need to is inflict on those of us who did need to travel the seat issue.

  13. “Lots of emotional comments about seats and the number of them abreast.”

    Well as long as its emotional, you can’t take it seriously, good..

    Problem is it is becoming a widespread irritator for millions and they become increasingly vocal. Telling the world you should avoid this airline, type.

    At that stage it’s not emotional anymore and on the agenda for the next boardroom meeting.

    For the rest it remains: if there’s no solution forget the problem.

    In the end the 787-10 might win because of it. More passenger as 787-9 at 9 abreast.

    Notice the 8 abreast 787 has the double armrests for middle seats the A330/340 have too. ANA 787 international must be comfy!


    • Another 10 flew away this month, and another 10 will fly away next month. Your issue is not with Boeing, it is with the airlines. Ask Boeing what the market study told them. If you remember Airbus tried to get the world to agree to a certain seat size, and they did that because they wanted their product to be seen in the best light. You and others on this sight seem willing to carry the water of the issue, and someone might hear you like they heard you on the A321. How many years did that take? I guess BA heard you because they have increased seat width, but that was not the fault of Boeing, it was the interior design of BA. Also, guess what, they took three more 787s while they changed the seats. Are you getting the point here Mr K? The airlines continue to buy the frames depsite the “bad airline” stories you are presenting.

      If you feel it is important to continue to point out the issues do so, and please make sure to add that the windows and the performance remain an issue on all 787 flights. At some point, after the world has 1,500 flying someone might listen and change all the interior configs. You know why it will happen? Because you and your band of Leeham commentors will have finally been heard, and those comfy 250 A350s flying will finally display their competitive advantage. Not.

      The A350 will be the loser in space because the worldwide fleet of 787s will remain so much larger that all airlines will be comfortable changing interiors. As more fly and the share increases interiors will change but it will not dirve airlines to buy A350s it will force airlines to buy more 787s with the right size interiors. U-Turn will soon be coming back to Boeing for more 787s and his fleet will always be larger than his A350 fleet. This issue will not curtail 787 sales. It may actually drive more sales because slots are beginning to open up and the worldwide fleet will be the largest of any widebody ever sold. With this SLOW ramp of A350 sales, the 787 gets more sales. Yeah Airbus rewins the A350s for EK, but look at the recent announcements of 787 sales. If Boeing gets 80 to 120 sales per years over the next 5 years, the 10 per month run continues for years. Your seat complaints seem to be less of a sales issues. So what do you do, keep complaining? Your efforts to curb 777X sales has not worked, so hopefully in the EK A350 order you get some -1100 frames as well. That should be good for Airbus, a widebody program that has the A330-200, A330-300, A330-800, A330-900, A350-800 (wait will they or won’t they), A350-900, A350-1000, A350-1100, A380-800 and finally the A380-800NEO. What segment of the market is not being served?

      • “Another 10 flew away this month, and another 10 will fly away next month.”

        Right. And Boeing’s Profit on those 10 = ???

      • “[…] airlines will be comfortable changing interiors.”

        May I mention that airlines make profit with passengers and not so much with switching interiors.

        According to my knowledge there is no paint available to make a tube physical wider.

        How many decades Boeing will have to deliver 15 aircraft a month before making any profit on that aircraft?

        • Program profit?
          With the 787 more than a decade, maybe two if ever. But there is a little hope as long at it continues to sale like it has.
          For the 350. Who knows? It cost less than the 787 but is getting going at a glacial pace and trails the 787 in sales by a significant margin.
          The 380? Never. Only this year will it start making a slim profit on models sold and dig out of the huge hole it has burned.
          I guess wider tubes aren’t necessarily enough.

          • I agree that the ramp up is slow but the fundamental issue is that the base plane has had an almost faultless testing and EIS. This product is mature and can be expected to deliver high levels of operational maturity from day 1. The problem with ramp seems to be the fault of tier 1 cabin items. I am sure this will be resolved quite quickly. Not some of the more fundamental issues of the 787 at this time.

            If anyone believes that the ramp up will continue at this pace I think they will be sorely disappointed. The growth in delivery and also completion of key production processes, wing join, engine fit, paint etc etc appears to be well under control.

            They are marginally behind their desired place, notice how Boeing recovered as they ramped up the 787. I expect the same for the 350 programme

          • I would not call the A350 mature, its too early.

            A380 went on to have RR engine issue and the wing skins pulling off.

            All new tech for Airbus with the airframe, so lets give it 5 years in service before we call it mature and even then its 10-15 years down the line before some of the problems can crop up with an all new build airframe (same for 787)

            I do agree with L7 on the issue with seats. The Airlines decide, not Boeing.

            Does Boing dictate to the airlines? *&^ no, if they did they would then shift to Airbus where no questions would be asked.

            As noted before, if you don’t like it vote with your pocket book.

            If you don’t then quit complaining.

  14. L7

    If I close my eyes I don’t see & if I cover my ears I don’t hear. And the rest keep quiet.. But it doesn’t make problems go away as we saw earlier on with the Dreamliner.

    The seatwidth issue is not my issue. It’s a reality out there:

    If you’re an airline Brand manager spending millions on creating the right brand identity and perceptions. This is an issue. Boeings Knows.

    Saying it’s up to the airline to fit 8,7 or 6 seats abreast on a 787 is non-sense. Airlines demand an efficient comfortable enough aircraft cabin. Simple as that, Airbus and Boeing can’t dive away.

    • Some perspective, data from wikipedia:

      In production twin isles start with A330 at 17′-4″ ID but with in leaning sidewalls because of the high floor. The 787 at 18′-0″ ID and with more vertical sidewalls offers about an inch more per seat/aisle in 8 abreast and an inch less when changed to 9 abreast. All else equal (AEE) take the 8 seat 330 over the 9 seat 787 (much more common than 8) but an 8 abreast 787 wins big.

      The A350 at 18′-5″ ID offers about 0.5 ” (not so much) more per seat/aisle (both at 9 abreast) than the 787 but, AEE, a win for the 350 unless you really like bigger windows. Note, the 350 is a little tighter than the 330 and has more middle seats. AEE take the old 330 over the 350 but take the 8 abreast (if they still exist) 787 over either.

      The 777 at 19′-3″ ID offers about an inch more per seat/aisle at 9 abreast and an inch less at 10 abreast than the 350. AEE the 777 wins at 9 abreast and the the 350 wins when the 777 goes to 10 wide. The 777x adds 4″ in width which narrows the difference but still leaves the 350 at 9 abreast about 0.6′ wider per seat/aisle than the 10 abreast 777x. AEE take the 350 unless folding wingtips big windows and giant engines are your thing. If a 9 abreast 777/777x still exists take that.

      The A380 main cabin is 21′-5′ wide with slightly out leaning sidewalls and at 10 abreast AEE beats the pants off everybody (especially the 10 abreast 777) except a 9 abreast 777x should one exist (not). The upper deck is 19′-0″ at the floor with strongly in leaning sidewalls but at (only) 8 abreast it must be pretty good. AEE take the 380 if its a choice.

      PS, for the non U.S.A. residents these inches (“) are 2.5 of your cm.

      • Thanks for the measurements. Again, the airline brand managers have to accept that space is limited, but it can be leveraged if they want to respect the customer (JAL). If not the brand managers deal with the complaints Mr K has shared. Both OEMs have limitations and the sad part is, no matter how much space is offered after 6 hours it is never enough. Guess I’ll have to stretch out in my Benz this evening and be thankful that the brand manager did so well with the space they were given.

        • Personally I would take the bigger windows, higher cabin pressure and humidity and non-bleed cabin air over an extra half inch of armrest. Really it’s a personal choice each involves a trade off,
          Of course if I had a choice (without having to pay for it) I would take a private cabin on the 380!

          • I wouldn’t, I used to trade the 3-3-3 but spacious 777 to the a330/340 2-4-2 and could never quite decide which I preferred more. 2 abreast seating or more spacious cabin of 777.

            We are now in a fight to the bottom. No-one points out that effectively we are going from 9 abreast in 777 to 9 abreast in 350 and that is a substantial loss of space.

            To go further at 1o in 777 and 9 in 787 is just more depressing still. A fight to the bottom (or for bottom width).

            I agree that it is down to the airline but the 787 let the genie out of the bottle as airlines realised to equate comfort with 9 abreast 787 they almost had to put 10 across a 777.

            After years of not caring I now demand premium economy or business for longhaul. The gunfight has become too extreme for me

          • And missing is the leg room not the width.

            I don’t need width, I need leg room and I am not that tall.

          • @ transworld

            Agree on legroom but having tried in the past to ensure a good seat pitch on a number of airlines (research, seat row preference etc) I continuously seem to get the ‘only’ restricted seat ie the seat with less than advertised space. At least they can’t add a seat to my left or right (hopefully). I am the sucker that now pays for premium economy as I have decided long haul economy is just too nasty. I have done precisely what the airline wants

    • Are you saying that Boeing designs interiors? Are you saying that the game plan the OEMs developed some years ago to produce a generic frame that the airlines purchased to install their own interiors is not happening? Are you saying that market studies to develop an interior space for the airlines to use to create their brand is not happening? So JAL’s use of 8 across in their 787s was developed by Boeing? Are you saying that an airline like AirAsia who enjoys craming some stupid number of people into a A330 is developed by Airbus?

      Every frame is designed based on a select config, airlines can either offer more or less than the standard layout, but that decision rests in the hands of the airlines. The 787’s cross section is based on the customer’s requirements against the performance expectations to carry the required loads. If the airline wants to put more than the standard design into the space can that be the fault of Boeing? No. If the frame meets the performance requirement with the acceptable loads then Boeing has met its obligation. So if 250 people is the right amount and the airline wants 275 people, the 25 additional are not Boeing’s issues.

      I know it pains you that the airline public is strapped with the pains of supporting the airline’s desire to make an extra 5-10% per flight, but there are limitations to per flight profit. That has nothing to do with hear no evil, see no evil, it has everything to do with either having a reasonable business model or gouge the hell out of customers. Boeing’s problem, if they have one, is they have designed a frame with the potential of carrying more passengers than the design standard. And that limit has enabled serious gouging.

      Once airlines learn to be reasonable with their new toy the seat counts will be addressed. It is now the airline customer’s challenge to either accept the discomfort or go to the airline who respects the customer (JAL). Close your eyes and things will be fine, don’t fret too much over the Boeing issue. I know it pains you that your good friends at Boeing are dealing with this issue, and at 10 per month the airline customers are being subjected to the pains of ruthless airline brand managers.

      • “Are you saying Boeing design’s interiors?”

        Well the last time I spoke with Klaus Bauer and my 20 yr friend Kent Craver they were, Mr. L.

        If a cabin is oversized for 8 abreast and cramped for 9, thats not a selling point. And I’m not blind loyal to ignore reality because there’s no easy fix!

  15. Hey it appears the price of oil at <$100 could be a reason why the sale of A350 might not have happened. Maybe the Arab nations have been running on cash flows based on higher oil prices? There are stories that some nations might be cash strapped? It may not be an over supply but an under supply of cash?

    Scott – you got any information on that front?

    • Dubai has no oil so that should not be a factor for EK. EK and finance are big drivers to the Dubai economy. There is no oil to subsidize EK, EK runs at a profit to subsidize Dubai.

      It is a fact that many (or even most) oil producing countries are bleeding money at the current oil prices. For example, Venezuela and Iran need the oil price to be above USD100/barrel to balance the books. I believe even Saudi Arabia is struggling to break even.

  16. The 8 abreast ANA 787’s have 33-34 inch pitch next to wide seats and double armrest in the middle. I will pay a premium for that on a long flight.

    Recently flew a Korean 777, good old 3-3-3. Center middle seat, but the seat width, generous pitch and excellent service will get me back to that airline, I’ll even adjust my schedule.

    I do pay for better seats. I have the feeling seatcomfort in economy is in the spotlight now A redline seems crossed and airlines can’t look away. BA could’t.

    • But the choice is your’s to fly the airline with the most space for the price you are willing to pay, right? The 777 was designed for 9, and the 787 was designed for 8. What you are saying to the airlines, and I gather others too, that a cramped space is not something I’m willing to take in addition to the poor service provided.

      Here’s the bad news, if Airbus and Boeing gave the airlines an unlimited amount of space, the airlines would still find a way to make your trip a horrbile experience.

      Now Mr K – you must understand that I promised Mr. Hamilton that I would never troll his site because of various reasons. But I so much enjoy you I have broken my promise to Mr Hamilton. I guess narrow minds and narrow seats have something in common?

      Enjoy your travels and please look for the most space the world’s airlines are willing to provide. And I too will try to find the smooth side of the aerospace issue.

  17. L7: I think your comments to Keeje are out of line. Either stay away or keep it in bounds.

    I do not find Keeje narrow minded, sometimes over-focused on Airbus but I was the same at one time for Boeing. As Boeing changed I did to.

    He takes a strong position and does not budged easily but I find he has a good mind.

    I like what he has stated as his benchmarks seat wise and is willing to pay for.

    I do agree missing in this is Boeing went after a market that said they wanted 8 seats and they balanced that with some smaller markets that are (ah hem, price sensitive) that would pack them in.

    There is a design balance in width, the reason they did not make the 787 as wide as a 777, just shorter, is the aerodynamic in economic terms. 777-100 never got off the ground for good reasons.

    I will not blame Boeing for what they did, the market moved and oil was high. It may change again and 8 seats come back, but again its leg room for most that is an issue. I’ll take a bit of width loss for leg room.

    Airbus had an opportunity to in the A3350, but its also a bigger aircraft targeted more to 777 than 787 (more so as time goes on, the 800 is toast)

    And also of note, if Boeing had done the 787 right, the A330 would be gone. They didn’t and its sold far more than it should have.

    Long enough to get new life with NEO. Boeing mistakes not Airbus tactical acumen as it were (still a good move to do what the did with the A330 NEO and I applaud them)

    Amongst Boeings management flaws is underestimating the ability of Airbus to make the best of what was a bad situation (I suspect Boeing engineer did see it, either not asked or just shut up due to the corporate attitude, i.e. kill. the messenger)

    Like Bridge, you can screw up a perfectly good hand and Boeing has done that.

    • “And also of note, if Boeing had done the 787 right, ”

      That and kicking of the “druglike rush” of an exceptionally successful PR campaign were mutually exclusive imho.

      i.e. different distribution of sales over time for similar accumulated sales.

      “Amongst Boeings management flaws is underestimating the ability of Airbus to make the best of what was a bad situation”

      Very much IMHO Airbus has the longer view. Where Boeing seems to go for the short term advantage or meeting a target slot Airbus seems to put more effort into giving their designs better potential to feed of expectable improvements elsewhere ( like engines ).
      Sometimes they let themselves get rushed like with the late A350-1000″B” performance changes. How fast would engine improvements have grown the A version capabilities into those of the B version? ( but with better efficiency.)

  18. I tend to disagree that Airbus designed future into the aircraft.

    Frankly they lucked out in two ways. MD and Boeing fell flat on their faces when they launched and did not squash the upstart.

    The A320 came out at a time when it was clear under wing engines were the way of the future. Again they were fortunate in their timing, it could have been rear engine model. 737 was a tube engine design and has always suffered from that in upgrades.

    Boeing mistake was to continue to beat the poor 737 to death, it should have not gone to the 700/800/900 series, they needed an all new design and did not. Again Boeing stupidity not Airbus foresight (they did a nice job on the A320 but not that nice)

    A330NEo is an evolved design from the A300, that’s 70s tech. I will give them a great design in that its well done enough to work but they did not see the A330 coming when the A300 was built let alone an NEO.

    Boeings massive mistakes of biblical proportions (multiples) gave Airbus all the time in the world to deal with the 787.

    A350, slipped in between the 787 and 777 and stay tuned. Looks good so far, lets see how it does. I will give them credit, I did not think there was a market there and 850 sales says I am wrong.

    A380, lets just stay tuned on that one as well.

    So Boeing had a winning 7 no trump hand (the coup in Bridge) and blew it every which way to Sunday.

    Airbus on the other hand had a week hand that they have played better than anyone in the tournament and has gotten great Kudos from me for that.

    In Bridge they also win the tournament by playing the best week hand.

    Its easy to play a strong hand, it take real brains and capability to turn a weak hand into a winning one and I applaud Airbus for doing so.

    So for brains and adroitness full credit to Airbus, frankly if you can’t play a good hand well then you should let someone else play. I don’t hold out a lot of hopes for Boeing to change but they have a new CEO and will see.

    note: I was a bad bridge player and can admire the good ones and what it takes. Boeing management does not have it, Airbus does (not that they don’t have issues particularly the A380 but they are playing the hand they were dealt with very well.

  19. Anybody see the order TAP just amde with Airbus? Cancel of A350-900s for A330-900NEOs? This is what I thought would happen in many A330 fleets across the world. Airbus will not compete with 787s because airlines have already made the decision to change. The problem is the advertised pricing strategy Airbus is offering to win 787 sales. TAP and others will be cashing in their higher priced A350 orders for lower priced A330s.

    Sometimes you don’t do things because you say someone else is carrying the development costs (RR), you stay the course. Rolls will be stuck with competing against itself for many of these deals and it needs volume somewhere to recover its costs. John Leahy is an impressive businessman, but he has made a fool of the Airbus strategy with the new NEO concepts. Next will be customers converting exsting A350-900 orders to A350-1000 and then buying A330NEOs for the lower price. Oh this is all being done to provide slots for EK right? Right, this is driven by supply and lower prices. The widebody world has become a buyer’s market, so says Richard Anderson. And, with the help of Mr Leahy prices will be driven WAY down. Nobody will win in this game, and when two suppliers have the ability to split the market at competitive prices, why do this? If the plays causes Boeing to continue holding 60% share and the Airbus share is fragmented between A330s and A350s with suppliers holding the bag what’s the win? Crazy play for nothing. Play smart, keep the prices up and keep capacity in check so all segments hold values. Now, we have a mess.

    • Isn’t this mostly customers for the original A350 after having been forced to upgrade to the XWB meandering back to their primary choice which today is filled by the A330NEO?

      Everybody wins.
      Customers get what they really wanted.
      Airbus can sell near term available production.
      Takes pressure from A350XWB delivery backlog
      Keeps the A330 line busy.

      did I forget something?

    • The A330 was and is popular and successful. New better engine became available 5 years ago. Not re-engining the A330 and creating a production gab, because you build something larger, would have been, well: business non-sense. Destroying marketshare. So they didn’t 🙂

      Maybe the A330 will become the 737 of WB’s. Hanging in there successfully for 50 years with incremental improvements.


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