Feb. 20, 2018, © Leeham Co.: Boeing has displaced Airbus at Hawaiian Airlines, winning an order for 787-9s. Hawaiian canceled an order for six A330-800s, the only order on the books for this sub-type.
The campaign has been underway for months and the outcome was expected. Airbus offered to cut the price on the -800 and also offered the A350-900. The latter always was considered too big by carrier executives.
Boeing’s effort to displace Airbus A330neo at Hawaiian is part of an all-out, hand-to-hand combat campaign by Boeing to kill the A330neo program in advance of the potential launch of the Boeing 797.
LNC detailed the battle here.
Information obtained by LNC over several months, concurrent with the Hawaiian contest, indicated Boeing appeared to be winning over airline executives.
Although not directly related to the campaign, Boeing Capital Corp agreed to release Hawaiian from three 767-300ER leases well in advance of the termination dates. Hawaiian’s desires to exit the 767 fleet had been stated publicly many times.
The airplanes are going to United Airlines. This was described to LNC as not a sweetener to win the 787 order, but the favor by BCC clearly was a psychological link. BCC was under no obligation to terminate the leases early.
LNC is told Boeing “was determined to win at any cost.” Boeing bid below Airbus’ cost of building the airplanes, LNC is told, though it’s unclear whether this was below the cost of the A330-800 or the A350-900. Since Hawaiian wanted out of the A330 contract, because it was the only customer for the airplane, the context suggest the Boeing price was below the cost of the A350-900.
This form of aggressive pricing by Boeing and the desire to keep a competitor out of the US has parallels to the trade complaint Boeing filed against Bombardier over the Delta Air Lines CSeries order.
Boeing acknowledged it offered extremely aggressive pricing to sell 65 737-700s to United Airlines to block a sale by BBD to UA for the CS100. Although Boeing wasn’t even in the competition that was being run between BBD and Embraer, Boeing swooped in with an offer for a reported $22m and won the order. (Ancillary deals involving the 777-300ER and the 787 were also involved, LNC was told at the time.)
At Delta, Boeing—which didn’t offer any 737 in this competition—charged Bombardier with price dumping. Bombardier responded that it was a special launch customer price for a key airline in the US market.
Boeing argued that launch customer pricing for an eight-year old aircraft program is nonsense. But the 787 program is now 14 years old and if the alleged pricing below the cost to produce the Airbus is true, then Boeing offered the 787-9 for something less than $115m and perhaps less than $100m
The normal sales price of a 787-9 is in the $125m range, market intelligence indicates. The cost to produce a 787-9 is now believed to be between $80m and $90m, Wall Street analysts suggest.
Boeing made a similarly aggressive move to persuade another A330neo customer to switch. AirAsiaX has 60 A330-900s on order, a big chunk of the backlog. If Boeing succeed in persuading AirAsiaX to switch, the A330neo program would have been seriously hurt.
The airline announced at the Singapore Air Show it was sticking with the A330neo.
As LNC described in its Feb. 8 post, Airbus hopes to sell the A330neo to United and American Airlines. Boeing wants the carriers to be launch customers for the 797. If Boeing wins these two campaigns, the A330neo will be dealt a serious blow.