Sept. 24, 2018, © Leeham News: This week we catch up on Odds and Ends.
Boeing has reversed the number of 737s piling up at Renton Airport and Boeing Field and is starting to burn off the “gliders” and other aircraft plagued by traveled work.
Although some aerospace analysts came away from the investors day this month skeptical that Boeing would clear the backlog by year end, barring another hiccup of size, it looks like the company will do so.
Spirit Aerosystems said it had caught up on the delivery of fuselages while Boeing told aerospace analysts at its investors’ day this month that delays were still causing issues.
How does this conflict of information converge?
It’s a matter of sequencing the fuselages back into the system, I’m told.
For as long as Boeing has been talking about the Middle of the Market aircraft, CEOs Jim McNerney and Dennis Muilenburg have said over and over the airplane (if launched) would come after the principal R&D funding for the 777X was done.
Muilenburg said it again at the Morgan Stanley Laguna Beach conference this month.
This keeps the R&D spending more or less on an even keel, protecting shareholder stock buybacks and dividends.
Although signs continue to point toward a program launch next year, I continue to hear that suppliers which should be involved by now aren’t.
And Boeing still hasn’t closed the business case.
“We’re still a long way away from understanding exactly what the airplane is to a T and when it will actually enter service. It’s a bit foggy at this point from our perspective,” United said.
I find this a bit odd at this stage, where Boeing is awaiting the final proposals from engine makers, talking about an early 2019 Authority to Offer and a program launch by mid-year (Paris Air Show?).
At this point, I should think the airlines should have a pretty good idea what the airplane will look like.
The news 10 days ago that Eric Schulz was out as Airbus’ chief commercial office after nine months on the job and Christian Scherer was in was discussed in my column last week. Just a reminder: this won’t be the last. CEO Tom Enders and CFO Harald Wilhem leave the company in April. Airbus Commercial COO Tom Williams and Didier Evrard, EVP programs, were due to retire earlier this year but were each asked to stay on at least through the end of the year. Their departures have yet to come.
When Enders retires, Commercial president Guillaume Faury is believed to be the front-runner to succeed him.
United, American and Delta airlines each raised its fees for checked bags by $5 ($30 for the first, $40 for the second). It’s another blow against passenger service.
Even jetBlue, once the most passenger-friendly airline in the US skies, now charges for bags and it has reduced seat pitch.
This follows the progressive assault on passengers by the US legacy airlines by reducing seat pitch with thin line seats that make even the shortest trips akin to airborne torture.
Airline officials say they let the market place make the decisions. But when oligarchies rule and fortress hubs mean even less competition, there’s little passengers can do. No wonder air rage is becoming more common.
It’s all about money, of course, and this headline sums it up nicely: Airlines make big money by making you miserable.