June 6, 2018, © Leeham News: Airbus remains confident that the sales boon for the slow-selling A330neo is just around the corner, but an analysis of Airbus’ current operator lists shows significant inroads by Boeing for its 787.
The new sales chief, Eric Schulz, reiterated Airbus’ confidence at the IATA AGM this week in Sydney, Australia.
But 19% of the 109 A330 operators already ordered the 787. One, American Airlines, already announced the 787 order will replace the A330s in its fleet. Air Canada long ago made a similar announcement. Hawaiian Airlines canceled an A330-800 order in favor of the 787-9.
Boeing engaged in aggressive pricing to win the Air Canada, Hawaiian and American deals, all with intent to displace Airbus.
Although Boeing consistently claims there is no price war, Airbus claims otherwise and Steven Udvar-Hazy, the executive chairman of Air Lease Corp—and an A330neo purchaser—says the pricing competition is “intense.”
Comparing the list of A330 and 787 operators, and A330 customers that ordered the 787 but do not yet operate them, some 787 orders exceed the number of A330s operated. On its face, this suggests the A330s may already be on their way out at these carriers.
Some carriers have under-ordered the 787 compared with the A330s in service.
Some A330 operators that ordered the 787, whether already in operation or yet to be delivered, have a long history of dual sourcing.
The Chinese government likes to order Airbus and Boeing aircraft, if for no other reason than to use them for political pressure against the European and US governments if and when necessary. But the requirements are sufficient that one OEM may not be able to fill the needs on a timely basis.
There are more than 1,000 A330ceos in service with more than 100 operators. There are only about 200 orders from fewer than a dozen customers.
With 19% of the A330 operators already 787 customers, fleet simplification may be an issue Airbus will have to fight against in key campaigns. It was a significant factor in the American campaign; the airline will eliminate the A330s and Boeing 767s with its follow-on order for 47 787-8s/9s.
This also makes an effort to sell the A330neo to United Airlines highly uphill. UA doesn’t operate the A330, but it does the 787, with more on order. Introducing a new fleet type is highly unlikely.
Published reports that are several months old indicated Airbus thinks it will sell upwards of 1,000 A330neos. Others believe this is widely optimistic. One pessimist puts the number at 400.
The A330neo was late to the market, coming years after the 787 entered service and after Boeing launched the 787-10 derivative. Fuel prices subsequently plunged, depressing sales.
Airbus probably had little choice in launching the airplane. The A330ceo was rapidly being overtaken by the 787 as Boeing finally straightened out this program. The potential Boeing NMA/797 will be far more economical than the A330ceo. Although the A330-800 really doesn’t cover the upper end of the potential NMA like Airbus claims, at least a low-cost entry into the upper end of the Middle of the Market is provided by the A330-800.