March 21, 2023, © Leeham News: Airbus is resting on its laurels while Boeing struggles to recover from one crisis after another since the March 2019 grounding of the global 737 MAX fleet.
Multiple sources tell me that Airbus, aside from the production problems it has in common with Boeing, is enjoying Boeing’s deep freeze by China. The decision by Boeing CEO David Calhoun to delay the “introduction” of a new airplane until the middle of the next decade took the pressure off Airbus to be ready to move sooner than later.
While Boeing struggles, Airbus has become conservative, complacent and—gasp—even arrogant, a longtime Boeing trait.
That’s not all. Airbus is unwilling to be as aggressive on price as Boeing these days. Boeing needs to win back its market share. It is faced with customer demands for compensation due to delivery delays on the 737, 777X, and 787. One way for Boeing to compensate unhappy customers is to cut prices on its airplanes. Airbus, with full production lines for years to come, has little motive to cut prices when early deliveries aren’t available anyway.
Perhaps more troubling at Airbus, however, are complaints that its product support falls short in some cases. Customer support in the Americas office often refers the airlines and lessors to Toulouse, raising suspicion that Americas is conveniently using Toulouse as a reason to duck hard problems.
In an issue that is sensitive to Boeing critics, Airbus in recent years has become more and more focused on that Boeing boogeyman, shareholder value. Airbus is regularly buying back stock.
Unlike Boeing, which places shareholder value ahead of product development, Airbus still spends much more than Boeing in this arena. But with Boeing “pausing” development of a new airplane, Airbus now is sitting back, critics say. True, Airbus is studying a hydrogen-powered airplane for the next decade and it’s making lots of money with its current A-series product lines. But complacency and arrogance hurt Boeing (and some say it continues to do so). Some believe that Airbus is going down the Boeing path.