Boeing’s ability—or inability—to bridge the production gap for the 777 Classic to the 777X entry-into-service in 2020 was a top concern of a series of Wall Street types during a recent series of meetings we had across the USA.
There is a great deal of skepticism over whether Boeing can successfully maintain the current production rate of 100/yr (8.3/mo). People we talked with look at the number of orders Boeing needs to bridge the gap, the Boeing claims that it can obtain 40-50 or 40-60 a year, and, in a more recent development, the falling oil prices depressing the need for a new, more efficient 777-300ER compared with the 2004 model and the even older 777-200ER series.
We have been telling our clients since March that Boeing will have to reduce the production rate of the 777 because of the large production gap. Aerospace analysts began waking up to this possibility by May and the broad consensus today is that Boeing will have to reduce the rate—the only questions remaining is by how much and how soon.
As recently as the 3Q2014 earnings call, Boeing continues to assert it will be able to maintain rates with new sales. Boeing has booked 43 firm orders through October for the 777 Classic—39 for the 300ER and four for the freighter. This is as the low-end of the range Boeing says it needs.
However, our Market Intelligences gathered over the summer and into the fall indicates sales efforts are struggling.
Delta Air Lines is supposed to make a decision on its Request for Proposals for 50 wide-body aircraft before the end of this year, perhaps as early as next month. The competition is hot between the Airbus A330-900, the A350-900 and the Boeing 787-9.
Delta is understood to use the aircraft to beef up its growing Seattle hub across the Pacific; for its Detroit hub, also to Asia; and its New York JFK trans-Atlantic hub.
In addition, Delta is phasing out the last 14 of its Boeing 747-400s inherited from its merger with Northwest Airlines by the end of next year.
The A330-900 is viewed as a trans-Atlantic airplane, while the others are viewed as largely, but not necessarily solely, trans-Pacific aircraft, according to our information.
But there could be another wrinkle. On Delta’s third quarter earnings call, CEO Richard Anderson made some intriguing comments that could raise another possibility: acquisition of used Boeing 777-200ERs.
To put this in context, recall that Anderson and Delta actively seek out inexpensive used aircraft which, while hardly competitive at high fuel prices when comparing operating costs vs new aircraft, provide low capital acquisition costs and low ownership costs.
Here’s the exchange on the earnings call, as recorded by Seeking Alpha’s transcript:
By Bjorn Fehrm
Part 2 of 3
In Part 2 of our three-part 757 Replacement analysis, we take a close look at Airbus’ new 97 tonnes take off weight A321neo, revealed by Leeham News and Comment October 21. We call the 97t airplane the A321neoLR (Long Range); Airbus has yet to name the aircraft, which it began showing to airlines last week.
We analyze the A321neoLR’s capabilities and limitations when compared to the aircraft it intends to replace, the Boeing 757-200W. We have chosen to do so using a real airline configuration as opposed to an OEM’s typical seating layout. By comparing the 757-200W and the A321neoLR over the route structure that United Airlines is using the 757 today, we can better see the characteristics of the A321neoLR and what operational consequences the differences between the types would mean for the airlines. Before we start, a short recap of Part 1 about the 757 and its replacement candidates. Here is what we found:
Summary, Part 2
In the final Part 3, will look at Boeing’s alternative to an A321neoLR, a clean sheet New Single Aisle (NSA) and a prospective Small Twin Aisle (STA) design and how much such an approach would surpass the A321neoLR on medium and long haul networks and when it could be available.
MC-21 will claim 10% of world market: So Irkut claims. Here’s a 10 minute video.
Update, 7am PDT Oct. 17: Airbus announced it will lower production rates on the A330ceo from 10 to nine a month in 4Q2015. We believe this is a first-step. The backlog drops sharply in 2016. The first A330neo isn’t planned for delivery until December 2017 and we believe rates will come down once more in advance. At the Farnborough Air Show, John Leahy, COO Customers, said he believes rates for the neo will settle in around 7-8 a month/ we think ceo rates will come down to reflect this.
Mitsubishi rolls out MRJ Saturday: You can watch it live, at 2pm Japan time.
The MRJ 90 is Japan’s first home-grown commercial airliner since the YS-11 turbo-prop, which entered service in 1961. As we noted Wednesday, the MRJ has collected a good number of orders, but the customer base in small.
The MRJ is 3 1/2 years late.
Aviation Week has this feature.
Here is a link to a brochure.
Delta retiring 747s: Delta Air Lines said during its earnings call Thursday that it will retire its Boeing 747-400s in 2017. These airplanes were acquired in the merger of Northwest Airlines, which was the launch customer of the 747-400. Delta is replacing the 747s with twin-aisle, medium-sized airplanes.
Enders slams German government: Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus Group, slammed the German government over its position on defense exports.
Enders, a German, has long been critical of German government policies, and has been moving operations into France as a result.
We find Enders’ candor to be refreshingly frank. Most CEOs tend to hedge their opinions.
By Bjorn Fehrm
Part 1 of 3
The Boeing 757 was developed in the late 1970s as a replacement for Boeing’s popular 727 mid-range single aisle aircraft. Starting from the smaller 727, it ultimately grew to 180 to 230 seat capacity and US transcontinental range. With initial orders from Eastern Airlines and British Airways, the aircraft nonetheless had poor sales through most of the 1980s, picking up with a surge of orders in 1988-1990 when major deals were announced from American, Delta and United airlines.
Following the 1991 Persian Gulf War and recession, orders plunged until the mid-decade with a respectable resurgence. After 9/11, sales dried up and Boeing terminated the program.
GAO report on ‘Boeing’s bank:’ The US Government Accounting Office, a non-partisan investigating agency, completed a study of the funding and guarantees provided by the US ExIm Bank, which is under criticism from Congressional Republicans, and concluded non-US airlines do benefit from what amounts to subsidies.
These put US competitors at a disadvantage, GAO concludes. The full 29 page PDF may be found here.
The study period covered the global financial crisis, during which a good deal of private capital funding dried up. Airbus and Boeing each relied more heavily on export credit agencies for customer financing–ExIm in Boeing’s case and collectively European Credit Agencies, or ECAs, for Airbus.
The GAO found that ExIm funded or guaranteed financing for 789 Boeing wide body aircraft while the ECAs supported 821 Airbus wide-bodies.
Parenthetically, this statistic alone should demonstrate to Congress the need for ExIm to continue to be available for Boeing airplanes.
National media and trade magazines are paying attention to the increasing battle between Alaska Air Group (Alaska Airlines and Horizon Airlines) and Delta Air Lines (including its regional airline partners) in the Battle in Seattle as the latter dramatically increases its presence here, but the focus appears to be on the wrong parties.
While the headlines and stories point to the “Delta challenge” to Alaska, a review of the traffic statistics and market share data provided to us by Sea-Tac Airport yesterday show that Alaska and its regional sibling, Horizon Air, and Delta with its regional partners are growing at the expense of United Airlines and Southwest Airlines.