July 1, 2019, © Leeham News: During the Airbus Innovation Days, and in other forums, officials promoted the idea of a 10-abreast coach-class in the A350 XWB.
Compared with the 10-abreast Boeing 777X, officials said the economics of the A350-1000 are unbeatable (along with other claims).
Boeing claims the 777-9 is 25% more economical on a per-seat basis than the A350-1000.
This is an unfair comparison, of course, because the -9 seats about 40 more passengers than the -1000 at nine abreast. Hence, the push for a 10-abreast A350.
All well and good, except a 10-abreast A350 totally busts the XWB brand built up so carefully since it was launched some 10 years ago.
Simply put, a 10-abreast A350 kills the claim of an Xtra Wide Body airplane.
Airbus always promoted the A350 with 18-inch wide coach seats and a wider aisle than on the 777 and 787. These have seats that are roughly 17.2 inches wide, the same as a Boeing 737.
A 10-abreast A350 will have 16.4 inch wide seats and narrower aisles.
This is narrower than the Embraer ERJ-145 seat (17 inches) or the Bombardier CRJ-900 (16.85-17.17 inches) of American Airlines. It’s narrower than the 17 inches of a Q400 or ATR-72.
Airbus recognizes the issue and wants to figure a way to get the seat to almost 17 inches. But this is still inferior to a regional jet and turboprops.
I find a CRJ (or ERJ) to be uncomfortable on 90 minute flights (or, the Q400 from Portland to Seattle, a block time of 50 minutes).
I can’t imagine being a coach passenger in a 16.4 inch, or even an “almost 17 inch” coach seat for 10-15 hours.
British Airways signed an order for 42 Boeing 777Xs Feb. 28.
On the first day of the Paris Air Show, Boeing Global Services inked a deal with BA’s parent, International Airlines Group, to provide services for Boeing and Airbus A320s.
On the second day of the Paris Air Show, IAG signed a Letter of Intent for 200 737 MAXes. This came as a complete surprise to Airbus, which did not get invited to respond to a Request for Proposals, suggesting there was none.
LNA previously outlined what might be involved, and for how much, the IAG MAX LOI evolved and includes.
A Wall Street analyst reminded me of one other possible angle: the 777X deal. He speculated that the MAX LOI may have been negotiated as part of the X order.
It’s possible, but that was months ago.
I’m thinking it more likely Boeing may have repriced the Xs as part of the negotiations for the LOI, providing an added incentive.
It’s also likely Boeing repriced the remaining 12 787s British Air has on order.
Boeing sorely needed a vote of confidence in the MAX. What better time to achieve this than at the Paris Air Show?
At the time of the X order, the Ethiopian Airlines MAX had not gone down—that happened on March 10, 10 days after the X deal.
I think Boeing offered IAG a deal not only on the MAXes, but IAG’s CEO Willie Walsh—being no fool—linked the X and the 787s to the MAX, not the other way around.
But this is just speculation. I don’t know anything about the deal. What I do know is how some past deals have been structured, so this is a logical, possible scenario.