VLA sector dead, Boeing claims, but Large Wide Body also struggles

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Introduction

Sept. 26, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Boeing declared the Very Large Aircraft sector dead in its most recent Current Market Outlook, removing the category entirely when the 2017 CMO was revealed at the Paris Air Show.

Airbus A350-1000. Sales are slow–is the 350-450 seat sector the next VLA? Airbus photo.

But the Large Wide Body (LWB) category appears to be on life support.

The LWB is 350-seats and above. This includes the Boeing 777-300ER, which is already on its way out, the 777-8, the 777-9 and the Airbus A350-1000.

The Medium Wide Body (MWB) category centers around 300 seats. This includes the A330-900, A350-900, 777-200LR and 787-10.

The Small Wide Body (SWB) includes the 787-8, 787-9, A330-200 and A330-800 in the 220-275 seat sector, twin-aisle aircraft. This does not include the 220-240 seat high density Airbus A321neo and Boeing 737-10 single-aisle aircraft.

Boeing’s CMO defines the twin-aisle markets differently: Small wide-body:  <300 seats,  Large wide-body:  >300 seats.

Summary
  • Airlines prefer smaller wide bodies.
  • Downsizing trend begun with 787 continues.
  • Smaller outsells larger in seven of last 10 years.
  • Two of the three years involved extraordinary events.

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