American A330neo loss casts shadow over sales prospects

Discussion
Competing for American

The history of the competition for the American order, and Boeing’s victory, is recounted in this post from March 23.

The ramifications go beyond Airbus simply losing the competition and the pending cancellation of the A350 order.

American’s endorsement of the A330neo in general and the A330-800 in particular would have had broad implications for future campaigns.

Many airlines in emerging markets don’t have the in-house expertise. These airlines will often follow the lead of US carriers.

This makes Boeing’s effort to reverse and block widebody orders at Hawaiian and American even more important. This further casts doubt on the viability of the A330neo program.

Airbus is counting on its large customer base for the A330ceo and the emerging market for long-haul, low-cost carriers to boost sales of the A330neo and the A330-800. The current A330-200 fleet begins to hit 18-20 years of age in 2020; orders to begin replacing these then would need to start being placed this year.

LCC Indigo Airlines of India recently announced it may acquire up to 50 A330neos to begin long-haul service. Such an order would boost sales for the neo. Boeing doesn’t appear to be competing for the order even though flipping Indigo, a solid Airbus customer for the A320 family, to the 787 would be an enormous coup.

Doing so would also likely almost kill the neo program.

251t version

Airbus formally announced the 251t version of the A330-800 last month, giving the airplane an advertised range of 8,150nm.

This compares with the ranges of between 7,200nm and more than 9,000nm of the Boeing 787-8 through the 777-8, including the competing Airbus airplanes: the A330-900 and A350-900/1000.

But only 70% of the 787s operate on route of more than 5,000nm, based on a quick analysis by LNC.

Up to now, the average stage length of the A330 is 2,000nm.

This illustrates why the A330-800 is going to have a tough time competing against the prospective Boeing New Midrange Aircraft.

Boeing NMA

The NMA, which also is dubbed the 797, has ranges of 5,000nm and 4,500nm for the 220-passenger 797-6 and 797-7 respectively.

Even the “light weight” A330-800 still has a range of more than 7,000nm. This means the airplane will carry a lot of excess weight for the medium-range missions competing with the NMA.

(This also illustrates why the NMA will likely cannibalize the 787-8, a 7,200nm range airplane that Boeing doesn’t want to sell, preferring instead the higher-profit margin 787-9/10.)

Airbus faces a steep climb to sell the A330-800 following the American loss. It faces a challenging climb to reboot the A330-900 stalled sales.

The Indigo order will be closely watched. It may be a harbinger of things to come.

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