By Bjorn Fehrm
Should an airline buy additional 767-300ERs (if offered) or the overqualified and therefore more expensive 787-8? Or is defecting to the Airbus A330-200/-800 a better option?
We will assume the 767-300ER is offered and produced as is, with only avionics upgrades and Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) split winglets. Most 767-300ERs are operated on medium range flights such as US transcontinental routes.
We will, therefore, compare the aircraft with medium range two-class cabins with 60-inch spaced lie-flat business class seats, complemented with 31-inch economy seats. The 767 would then hold 20 Business seats at five abreast with 209 Economy at seven abreast, giving 229 seats.
The 787-8 would have 264 seats divided between 24 Business (six abreast) and 240 Economy (nine abreast). The A330-200/-800 would transport 266 passengers at 24 Business seats (six abreast) and 242 Economy (eight abreast).
We fly the aircraft over typical US transcontinental routes, Figure 1.
Going West, we shall calculate with 2,500nm as a reasonable average. We use our normal reserves of 5% enroute, 30 minutes circling and a 200nm alternate.
The flight time will vary between five and a half hours for the 787 and up to six hours for the slower A330 and 767. The 767-300ER consumes 25.3t of fuel, the 787-8 25.1t, the A330-200 27t and the A330-800 25.8t. The seat mile fuel differences are with fuel at $1.75/US gallon and with 767-300ER as datum at $0.0222/sm:
The higher fuel burn per seat for the 767 is as expected. Total fuel cost for the trip is in the $14,500 bracket for all aircraft except the A330-200 which costs 5% more. The higher seat counts for the 787 and A330s brings the per seat fuel costs below the 767.
When we look at the other costs making up Cash Operating Costs (COC), we find:
At total mission COC we have the 767 at $35,800, the 787-8 at 37,650, the A330-200 at $39,650 and the A330-800 at $38,800. On a seat-mile basis with the 767 as datum at $0.0544 we have:
The 5%-9% higher seat mile COC for the 767-300ER is not surprising. It has fewer seats to spread similar mission fuel costs and its lower crew and landing costs can’t compensate.
As described in the previous articles, a rebirth of the 767-300ER passenger version has many implications for Boeing. As a stopgap, until NMA/797 for airlines which operates 767 fleets today, it can make sense.
The Cash Operating Cost (COC) deficit of the 767 compared with its alternatives is 5%-10% with today’s low fuel prices. This can be compensated with low acquisition costs and aggressive pricing of the airframe’s maintenance costs.
The main consideration for Boeing will probably be, “how many defections to the Airbus A330 do we risk with and without a restarted 767 line, before we have the NMA/797 available?”