Airbus, Boeing trade punches on widebody strategy

San Diego
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Airbus and Boeing have again traded punches on widebody strategies with each dismissing the other’s product in the superjumbo segment and pointing out flaws with the rest of their rival’s twin-aisle offering.

Speaking at the ISTAT convention in San Diego, Randy Tinseth, vice-president marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, accused the A380 of being a “one-trick pony” because of its dependence on one airline, Emirates.

Appearing on the same platform, Andrew Shankland, Airbus’s senior vice-president of leasing markets, said the passenger version of the 747-8 “as a large aircraft competitor is not that strong” and that Toulouse could “bracket” Boeing’s next biggest airliner, the 777-9X, with its A380 and its largest A350-1000 variant. “That’s certainly an advantage ,” he adds.

Responding to Shankland’s claim that “Boeing’s up-gauging...stops at 400 seats”, Tinseth insists: “Our up-gauging ends at 467 seats, which is the size of the 747-8.” However, he admits that the freighter version is the “heart and soul” of the reborn jumbo jet and is “well positioned for when the cargo market comes back”.

Shankland, in turn, predicts that the A380 will continue to expand its operator base and that the ultra-large aircraft will be in service with at least one US airline “before too long”.

The airframers continue to tussle over whether Boeing’s larger number of options in the medium and smaller widebody segment represents a better choice for operators.

While Shankland points out that the A330 continues to sell strongly, Tinseth claims that the -200 variant is being “outsold” by the 787-8, and that “once the [787] -9 enters service it will put pressure on the A330-300”. He admits that the A350-900 is a “pretty good airplane” but that the rival 787-10’s “economics will be second to none”.

Shankland says that the larger A350-1000 has the edge on the 777-9X’s operating costs because it is 35t lighter unladen than its rival.