In new blow, Boeing defeats Airbus at American, sources say; AA says ‘no decision yet’

Boeing 787. Photo via Google images.

March 23, 2018, © Leeham News: In a new, albeit not unexpected, blow to Airbus, Boeing won a hotly contest competition at American Airlines between the A330neo and the 787, two sources say.

Bloomberg News reported Airbus lost the deal, earlier today.

LNC confirmed the decision with two sources. But Derek Kerr, EVP and CFO of American, told LNC no decision has been made, but an announcement could be coming by the first quarter earnings call if not before.

The competition originated with American’s long-publicized ambivalence over the legacy Airbus A350-900 order placed by US Airways long before the latter acquired American, a 787 customer of long-standing. With this deal, American will cancel the A350 order for 22 airplanes.

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Pontifications: Twelve Years of Turbulence at American Airlines

By Scott Hamilton

Jan. 22, 2018, © Leeham Co.: American Airlines was the last of the big US legacy carriers to enter bankruptcy, in 2011.

Executives put up a valiant battle to avoid being dragged into Chapter 11, despite having two airplanes hijacked on 9/11. One was flown into the World Trade Center, the other into the Pentagon.

Only two months later, American lost a third airplane in an accident.

Delta, Northwest, US Airways and United airlines all filed for Chapter 11 after 9/11; there were several other airlines to do so. Not all survived.

American did, merging with US Airways as part of the former’s bankruptcy reorganization.

AA’s former general counsel, Gary Kennedy, teamed with the aviation reporter for the Dallas Morning News, Terry Maxon, to tell the story of Twelve Years of Turbulence, The Inside Story of American Airlines’ Battle for Survival.

The book is available now.

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Boeing’s tactical option for MOM sector

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Introduction

Aug. 14, 2017, © Leeham Co.: It’s not a done deal yet—the business for the so-called Boeing 797 remains a challenge. But the consensus is that Boeing will launch the program next year, for an entry-into-service around 2025.

Boeing 797 concept. Source: Boeing.

Yet there are airlines that say they don’t want to wait that long for a new airplane.

What are their choices?

  • Acquire the Airbus A330-200. It’s available now. Fuel is cheap and is expected to remain so well into the next decade.
  • Acquire the A330-800. It’s fairly cheap. It’s about 10% less expensive to operate on a per-trip basis than the A330-200. The new engines will serve as a hedge against rising fuel prices for an indefinite future.
  • Acquire the Boeing 787-8.
  • Airbus ponders an A321neo+.
  • There’s another option that is not readily apparent.

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Pontifications: The pricing jigsaw puzzle

By Scott Hamilton

May 22, 2017, © Leeham Co.: The prices airlines and lessors pay for their airplane purchases have long been of intense interest to just about everybody associated with the airline industry.

The manufacturers want to know what their competitors are selling the planes for.

The airlines want to know what their competitors pay for their airplanes. The same is true for lessors and their competitors.

(Airlines are less interested in what the lessors pay; they are only interested in what they must pay the lessors to lease the airplanes, and aren’t really concerned about the lessors’ costs.)

Appraisers want to know the prices of new aircraft, and prices on the secondary market, to have a basis for predicting base and current market values today and 25 years in the future.

The credit rating agencies want to know that values of the airplanes to rate financing deals.

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WestJet’s 787, international strategy fraught with risks

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Introduction

Boeing 787-9. WestJet ordered 10 and placed an option for 10 more. Deliveries begin in 2019. Boeing photo.

May 8, 2017, © Leeham Co.: WestJet, Canada’s #2 airline behind Air Canada, is making dramatic departures from its low-cost, low-fare strategy since the company began operations in February 1996.

The company earlier announced it will form an Ultra Low-Cost Carrier (ULCC). Last week came an order for 10 Boeing 787-9s and options for 10 more. Deliveries begin in 2019.

Summary
  • WestJet is taking on Air Canada and its LCC unit, Rouge, in LCC and long-haul LCC markets.
  • “Too much going on to get comfortable,” writes analyst.
  • Capital costs will go up significantly.

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Pontifications: Branson gets pissy over dropping the Virgin America name

By Scott Hamilton

April 3, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Sir Richard Branson came to Seattle last week to promote the new service by Virgin Atlantic Airlines to London. In a hissy-fit, he promptly pissed on Alaska Airlines for the business decision to drop the Virgin America brand in 2019.

Alaska, of course, acquired Virgin America last year. The acquisition didn’t sit well with Branson, who nevertheless made out well in the deal.

Although Alaska officials said they would decide later whether to retain the Virgin brand, only those with wishful thinking gave any chance of this happening.

Richard Branson in Seattle for Virgin Atlantic’s new service to London. USA Today photo via Google.

Branson certainly knows this.  In 1997, Virgin Group acquired the low fare carrier Euro Belgium Airlines for $60m and promptly dropped the name in favor of Virgin Express.

VE lasted only nine years; it ceased operations in 2006 when it was sold and merged into the new Brussels Airlines.

Branson’s whining over Alaska’s decision to operate the merged operations into the Eskimo’s image smacks of hypocrisy.

Let’s also remember that his Virgin Atlantic is 49% owned by Delta Air Lines, which is building a hub in Seattle in competition with Alaska. The fight between Alaska and Delta is sometimes bitter.

Branson’s criticism of Alaska might have as much to do with Virgin Atlantic’s partnership with Delta as it does his own bruised ego.

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Major fleet decisions may not be positive for Airbus, Boeing

Pontifications is off this week.

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Introduction

March 20, 2017, © Leeham Co.: There are some major fleet decisions that will probably come down the pike this year at American, Delta and United airlines. Not all of them are going to be viewed positively by Airbus and Boeing.

There is also a serious warning sign emerging from the Middle East that could have serious, negative impacts on Airbus and Boeing.

Summary
  • American Airlines doesn’t want its Airbus A350-900s any more. Consolidation with US Airways appears to have made these surplus.
  • Delta Air Lines, which so far eschewed any orders for the Airbus A320neos and Boeing 737 MAXes, is understood to be readying a Request for Proposals to be issued this year.
  • United Airlines doesn’t want its Airbus A350-1000s any more. Picking up cheap Boeing 777-300ERs appear to have made these surplus.
  • Emirates Airlines, reacting to Brexit and Donald Trump’s travel bans, is undertaking a full business review in response to a sharp drop in bookings.

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Airline assets and lessor assets: Bombardier and Embraer

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Part 2. Part 1 may be found here.

Introduction

Bombardier invented the regional jet. Despite some sales these days, the CRJ was eclipsed by the Embraer J-Jet. Bombardier photo.

Bombardier invented the regional jet. Despite some sales these days, the CRJ was eclipsed by the Embraer J-Jet. Bombardier photo.

Oct. 10, 2016, © Leeham Co.: Regional aircraft are much riskier assets for lessors than mainline aircraft.

Until recently, Bombardier and Embraer were the only two regional jet Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).

Today, the Sukhoi SSJ100 and the Mitsubishi MRJ90 join BBD and EMB in this arena.

Summary

  • Bombardier’s regional jets CRJ series enjoyed a good life with airlines and lessors, but fell into disfavor as fuel prices spiked.
  • BBD’s CSeries was ordered by four lessors, but two of them have question marks.
  • Embraer’s E-Jet found good homes with lessors, but some worry about supply-and-demand in the secondary market.

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Pontifications: “Sully” sullies NTSB

Hamilton ATR

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 12, 2016, © Leeham Co.: Sully, the movie about the miracle of the successful water landing of US Airways 1549 on the Hudson River in New York City, sullies the National Transportation Safety Board.

Apparently not content with the gripping drama of the flight’s emergency itself and the dramatic rescue of all 155 souls on board, the movie gins up an NTSB out to hang Capt. Chesley Sullenberger (Sully) and co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles.

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Book review: Glory Lost and Found

Sept. 8, 2016Glory Lost and Found: How Delta Climbed from Despair to Dominance in the Post-9/11 Era is a ponderous title for a ponderous book.

But this is not a criticism.

Glory Lost is one of the best books I’ve ever read about the turmoil in the airline industry. Authors Seth Kaplan and Jay Shabat, two journalists, put together a book of nearly 450 pages that goes beyond just the focus of how Delta Air Lines spiraled into bankruptcy following 9/11, emerged and suffered through more travails after the 2008 financial market meltdown.

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