Qatar may up-gauge A350-900 to -1000, buy more

Feb. 20, 2018 © Leeham Co., Toulouse: Qatar Airways may up-gauge some of its Airbus A350-900 orders to the larger -1000 and it may buy more A350s for its leasing company, CEO Akbar Al Baker said at the delivery of the airline’s first -1000.

Qatar is the launch customer of the A350 program, including the -900 and -1000.

Departing Airbus preisdent Fabrice Bregier, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker and Rolls-Royce CEO Chris Chorlerton take questions at a press conference during the delivery of the first A350-1000 to the airline.

The first -1000 was legally delivered to Qatar at the end of last year, but handover for scheduled service was delayed until today because of issues with its new QSuite premier business class supplied by Rockwell Collins, he said.

In a wide-ranging press conference, Al Baker also said:

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Airbus readies A350-1000 for delivery, dismisses Boeing 777-9

Feb. 20, 2018, © Leeham Co.: Toulouse: Airbus will deliver its first A350-1000 to launch customer Qatar Airways within hours, making the end to a nearly two-month wait for the ceremonial handover.

The aircraft was legally delivered to Qatar in the closing days of 2017, but issues with the QSuite interior held up the hand-over until today. The airplane will enter revenue service between Doha and London Heathrow Airport.

Airbus’ Marisa Lucas, Head of A350 XWB Marketing, extols the virtues of the A350-1000 in advance of the handover of the firzt one to Qatar Airways.

Earlier today, Marisa Lucas, Head of A350 XWB Marketing, extolled the virtue of the A350-1000 and, in a response to a question, dismissed the coming Boeing 777-9 as a threat to the -1000. She also waved off the prospect, for now, of stretching the -1000 into a “2000” that would directly challenge the -9.

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2018 an important year for wide-bodied airplanes

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Feb. 5, 2018, © Leeham Co.: This will be an important year for wide-body sales in commercial aviation.

It would be overstating to say 2018 will be a pivotal year for wide-body airplanes, but there should be some important developments.

  • Boeing may—or may not—launch the twin-aisle New Midrange Aircraft this year.
  • Sales of the 777X remain stalled.
  • Sales of the A330neo remain stalled.
  • Airbus must decide whether to boost the production rate of the A350.

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Top 10 aviation stories of the year on Leeham News

Dec. 31, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Airplane development and the whimsicle made the Top 10 stories on LNC in 2017.

The Top 10 are a statistical listing of the most-viewed posts, not some judgment call on the part of LNC.

Here is the rundown.

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American hopeful Trump Administration will take on Mid-East 3 airlines

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Oct. 2, 2017, © Leeham Co., Grapevine (TX): American Airlines officials dodged commenting about the specifics of the Boeing-Bombardier trade dispute when asked about it at the investors/media day last week in this Dallas suburb.

Instead, the general counsel, Steve Johnson, offered up only a general statement supporting the Trump Administration’s hard line on trade.

The reason for this generality is obvious: American, along with Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, is engaged in its own trade war and needs support from the Administration.

AA, DL and UA are battling Big Three airlines from the Middle East over being subsidized and abusing Open Skies treaties. The US carriers want Trump to knock down the ME3, Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways.

Oddly, no question was asked of the American officials about the current state of the battle during the day.

LNC asked American CEO Doug Parker about the issue following the event, however.

  • Recent meeting with US was encouraging.
  • No commitment yet from Trump Administration.
  • Market conditions don’t matter to ME3, American says

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VLA sector dead, Boeing claims, but Large Wide Body also struggles

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Sept. 26, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Boeing declared the Very Large Aircraft sector dead in its most recent Current Market Outlook, removing the category entirely when the 2017 CMO was revealed at the Paris Air Show.

Airbus A350-1000. Sales are slow–is the 350-450 seat sector the next VLA? Airbus photo.

But the Large Wide Body (LWB) category appears to be on life support.

The LWB is 350-seats and above. This includes the Boeing 777-300ER, which is already on its way out, the 777-8, the 777-9 and the Airbus A350-1000.

The Medium Wide Body (MWB) category centers around 300 seats. This includes the A330-900, A350-900, 777-200LR and 787-10.

The Small Wide Body (SWB) includes the 787-8, 787-9, A330-200 and A330-800 in the 220-275 seat sector, twin-aisle aircraft. This does not include the 220-240 seat high density Airbus A321neo and Boeing 737-10 single-aisle aircraft.

Boeing’s CMO defines the twin-aisle markets differently: Small wide-body:  <300 seats,  Large wide-body:  >300 seats.

  • Airlines prefer smaller wide bodies.
  • Downsizing trend begun with 787 continues.
  • Smaller outsells larger in seven of last 10 years.
  • Two of the three years involved extraordinary events.

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Worries increase over Middle Eastern airlines

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Aug. 28, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Market sources are increasingly pointing to weakness in the Middle East airline sphere as a threat to existing Airbus and Boeing

Emirates Airline holds the future of the Airbus A380 in its hand, so-to-speak. Source: Emirates.


Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways are the Top 3 of Boeing’s Top 10 wide-body customers.

These three also represent 73% of Boeing’s 777X order backlog.

Qatar and Etihad are the Nos. 2 and 3 wide-body customers at Airbus (after AirAsiaX); Emirates has slipped to No. 8.

The financial trouble at Etihad, exacerbated by its poor investments in the now-bankrupt Alitalia Airlines and AirBerlin, have been well documented.

Emirates’ profits have fallen dramatically and is facing over-capacity. Qatar Airways is now isolated by intra-geopolitical events.

  • Emirates and Etihad already deferred Boeing orders.
  • Lessors beginning to express concerns.
  • Customer concentration for 777X worries some.
  • A380 future rests largely with Emirates.

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Mid-year production update at Airbus

July 27, 2017, © Leeham Co.: It’s mid-way through 2017 and LNC is taking its second look at production and delivery stream flows for the Big Four airframe manufacturers.

We examined Boeing Monday in advance of its earnings call Wednesday. Today we look at Airbus in advance of its earnings call today. We look at Bombardier and Embraer next Monday.

We use the Airfinance Journal Fleet Tracker as the basis for our exam.

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Pivotal year for A380

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June 12, 2017, © Leeham Co.: This is a pivotal year for the Airbus A380.

Sales have dried up. Singapore Airlines is retiring five early versions of the airplane and there is no new home for them—these may headed for the scrap heap.

The Middle Eastern carriers, which are the largest users for the airplane, are in turmoil.

The backlog remains weak. Aside from Emirates Airline, which as noted is in turmoil, the other orders are with carriers that are unlikely to take delivery.

  • The A380’s future rests with Emirates Airline.
  • Any Performance Improvement Package is dependent upon Emirates placing a new order.
  • Boeing’s new 20-year forecast eliminates the passenger 747-8 from the Very Large Aircraft sector. Airbus continues to forecast a need for 1,400 VLAs.
  • Airbus to decide this year whether to reduce production rate below 1/mo in 2019.

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Qatar Airways: Caught in a political crisis

By Bjorn Fehrm 

June 07, 2017, ©. Leeham Co: We wrote about Qatar Airways last week, the flag carrier of Qatar. One week later, the airline finds itself caught in a political crossfire.

The background to the crisis is complicated. At the root is a longtime feud in the area. To aid in understanding what is happening, we reference some background information and look at possible consequences for Qatar Airways.

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