We last looked at the Airbus A380 economics in February, when the airframer was promoting the giant airplane as a 525 seater. Since then, Airbus recast the airplane as a 555 seater. This changes the economics somewhat. Further, Airbus is floating an 11-abreast coach configuration vs the out-of-the-box 10 abreast.
Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airlines, continues to press for a re-engined A380. In our companion Assessment of the Very Large Aircraft market, consultant Michel Merluzeau believes Airbus will re-engine the airplane.
So do we.
It has been pretty clear to us that Airbus will do an A380neo. The question is when. Emirates’ Clark last month predicted the decision would be taken within six month. Our latest Market Intelligence says he will be right; we understand that Airbus is right now preparing for an A380neo project.
We thereby see the time ripe for looking into the A380neo again. When we last covered the subject (Updating the A380: the prospect of a neo version and what’s involved, Feb. 3, 2014) we concluded:
• The present configurations for the A380 of 525 seats fills the A380 to a much lower density than is the norm today.
• A cabin configuration of 555 seats would be a realistic three-class configuration with the economy section on the lower deck still in a spacious 10 abreast with seat width at 19 in.
• The efficiency of the A380 filled to that low density was on par with the best per seat benchmarks in the industry, the Boeing 777-300ER with the economy section in a tight 10- abreast, 17- inch configuration.
• The best in market benchmark would move considerably when the Boeing 777-9X enters service 2020. The per fuel seat cost would then we almost 20% lower than today’s A380.
Today our article shows:
• A re-engined A380neo, with other improvements typical in such an endeavor, reclaims the per-seat advantage for the A380.
When re-running the data in our proprietary model, we have more and better data around the likely engine variant, the Rolls Royce Advance, which was announced by Rolls Royce in March. It will be available for an A380neo rolling off the production line 2020. We have also put in more work into our standardized cabins, adjusting the relationship between premium and economy seating to a ratio closer to the one airlines use today. Airbus has also been active on the A380 cabin side. It has had several studies how to better utilize the cabin space in the A380. The results are now presented to the market.
In a recent A380 update, Airbus showed an 11-abreast main economy cabin with 18 in seats, now without raising the cabin floor to fit the seats. By adjusting how the seats interfaces the cabin’s sloping walls, Airbus avoids changing the floor height in part of the cabin.
We will now use this latest data to check where an A380neo would stand in terms of efficiency against the Boeing 777-9X, its most difficult competitor when it comes to the cost of transporting passenger from A to B. In later articles we will look at a more complete cost picture and also look at the A380’s strong side, the revenue and yield when one can fill the aircraft. Read more
The announcement last week that AirBerlin canceled orders for 15 Boeing 787s gives Boeing an unexpected, big advantage in the contest for a big wide-body order from Delta Air Lines–depending on when Delta wants the airplanes.
The competition apparently has been narrowed to the Airbus A350-900 and the Boeing 787-9, according to Flight Global. Based on this article, the Airbus A330-900 neo has been eliminated, which if true is a blow to the fledgling program in which Airbus had counted on Delta to be a launch customer.
Outside of the OEMs and Delta, it’s not known when Delta wants 50 widebodies. But the A350 and 787 are essentially sold out through the end of the decade, though both OEMs can typically find delivery slots for important campaigns such as this one by over-booking or persuading other customers to move their delivery positions.
Airbus has plenty of slots for the A330neo from 4Q2017, when entry-into-service is planned. But with the apparent elimination of the A330neo from the competition, delivery schedule becomes important–and the AirBerlin cancellation works to Boeing’s advantage.
Engine After-market: Safran, which owns 50% of CFM International with GE Aviation owning the other half, is positioned in the “sweet spot” of the engine after-market, according to a recent report by Bernstein Research.
The report further supports our own analysis posted August 25 and the growing importance of MRO support in winning engine orders.
According to Bernstein, Safran “has the best positioning in the aircraft engine after-market” in the investment bank’s coverage. This position is “driven by two engine families with strong growth ahead and low exposure to older engines that are at risk of early retirement.”
Bernstein notes that more than 95% of Safran’s after-market sales are derived from the CFM56, which powers 75% of the narrow-bodied aircraft, and the GE90, which powers the Boeing 777-200LR/LRF and 777-300ER.
Future programs include the CFM LEAP, GEnx and GP7200. Past programs, in decline, are the first generation CFM56 and the CF6 on earlier wide-bodies.
ExIm and Airbus: In a statement surely to inflame those opposed to renew ExIm Bank authority, the president of the bank said it’s possible it could back funding of the Airbus A320 family built in Mobile (AL).
Paine Field future: It’s a little parochial but The Everett Herald has an article looking at the future of Paine Field, where Boeing’s wide-body airplanes are assembled. The article necessarily looks at the future of the Boeing 747, 767 and 777 Classic production.
Congress is now talking about a nine month extension of ExIm.
What order bubble, Revisited: We recently asked the question, What order bubble?
The orders don’t stop coming. Boeing landed a big fish with a large order from BOC Aviation, bringing net orders to 918–easily on the path to 1,000. Airbus lags at just over 800 net orders through July (it only reports monthly, not weekly as does Boeing), but we see Airbus hitting 1,000 this year, too. There were 121 MOUs announced at the Farnborough Air Show for the A330neo and we expect most of these to firm up, if not all. (There will likely be some swaps by Air Asia from the A330ceo to the neo, however.) We expect more A320 orders as well.
Boeing’s BOCA order was the lessor’s largest ever and included two 777-300ERs. Boeing is attempting to combine -300ER orders with 737 and 777X deals in order to bridge the production gap between the 777 Classic and the 777X.
GE Aviation and GE Engines naturally benefited from the 737 and 777 BOCA deal, since they are the sole-source engine providers on the airplanes.
MRJ lands JAL: Japan Air Lines ordered 32 Mitsubishi MRJ90s for delivery from 2021. This is the fourth customer for MRJ. JAL’s rival, All Nippon Airways, was the launch customer for the MRJ90. JAL also ordered up to 27 Embraer E-Jets.
MH370: New information emerged this week on the flight path of Malaysian Airlines MH370, which disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and is believed to have crashed in the south Indian Ocean.
We’ve been asked by local media if MAS can survive. We believe it can, given the government backing. It’s the flag carrier and we don’t think Malaysia will allow the airline to go out of business. Korean Air Lines survived following a series of crashes and the Soviet shootdown of KAL 007 during the 1980s. MAS may become a very different airline, but we think it will continue.
Maintenance and power-by-the-hour parts and support contracts are increasingly becoming the deciding factor in deciding which engines and which airplanes will be ordered—it’s no longer a matter of engine price or even operating costs, customers of Airbus and Boeing tell us.
Ten years ago, 30% of engine selection had power-by-the-hour (PBH) contracts attached to them. Today, 70% are connected, says one lessor that has Airbus and Boeing aircraft in its portfolio, and which has ordered new aircraft from each company.
“We’ve seen a huge move in maintenance contracts,” this lessor says.
Our wrap up of Farnborough would be incomplete without looking closer at the world’s leading engine supplier, GE Aviation, which together with partners (like SAFRAN in CFM joint venture) garnered more than $36 Billion in orders and commitments during the show. This figure was only significantly bettered by Airbus ($75 Billion) and it came close to Boeing’s $40 Billion. With such level of business the claim by GE Aviation CEO, David Joyce, that the Airbus A330neo engine business was not the right thing for GE as they have more business than then they know what to do with, was certainly no case of “sour grapes”. Read more
Hawaiian Air’s A350-800s: Hawaiian Airlines July 22 ordered six Airbus A330-800s and simultaneously dropped its order for six A350-800s. HA also took six purchase rights for the A338. Deliveries begin in 2019.
The A338 is slightly smaller, nominally at 252 seats, and has somewhat less range at 7,600nm than the 276-seat, 8,250nm A358, but only Hawaiian knows how much it needed the extra range. Losing the extra seats does give HA a hit to revenue potential, however. For wide-body airplanes, Airbus says each seat has the revenue potential of $2m/yr.
Offsetting the revenue loss is a far lower capital cost for the A338 vs the A358. Our economic analysis, based on technical specifications estimated before the Farnborough Air Show and before Airbus revealed data for the A338, showed the A338 pretty close to the A358 on a pure operating cost basis, not including adjustments for capital cost.
Here are the orders we’ve seen for today (there could be more); this should pretty well do it for the show, though it does continue through Friday and there probably will be a few more deals:
Items of interest:
Fabrice Bregier, CEO of Airbus Commercial, threw cold water on the prospects of an A380neo and an A350-1100, the latter to compete with the Boeing 777-9.
Bregier’s position on the A350-1100 leaves Boeing with a monopoly at the 400-seat marker. Boeing doesn’t view the 777-9, which nominally seats 407 passengers, as part of the Very Large Aircraft sector which begins at 400 seats. Rather, Boeing lumps the -9 into the medium-twin aisle sector (300-400 seats).
While Airbus continues to struggle with sales for the A380, Boeing doesn’t much talk about the 747-8I anymore, focusing primarily on the future potential of the 747-8F. Boeing bravely talks about the prospect of four or five customer sales for the 747-8I this year, including a strong wishful-thinking of an order from Emirates Airlines (president Tim Clark says he’s not interested).
Here are orders that were announced on the first official day of the Farnborough Air Show (at least the ones we’ve seen from Seattle–feel free to add to the list if we’ve missed any):
Things of note:
The sniping between Airbus and Boeing continues: