Boeing is confident its 787 twinjet will see off any threat from Airbus if Toulouse goes ahead with a competitively priced, re-engined A330 derivative. It also expects demand for the smallest 787 variant to remain solid.
Airbus is studying a re-engined “A330neo” to replace the smallest A350 XWB variant, the -800, in its product line-up. While an upgraded A330 would not be able to match the absolute performance of an all-new design like the A350 or 787, Airbus would address any shortfall through a competitive pricing strategy.
“If we launch it, the A330neo would have slightly less range than a 787-9, but significantly lower capital costs,” says Airbus chief operating officer for customers, John Leahy.
But John Wojick, Boeing’s senior vice president for global sales and marketing, does not see Airbus’s strategy working: “Offering the most the fuel-efficient operating-economics aircraft in the market place is what the customers are really looking for,” he says.
“Offering something that’s not as efficient and not as effective, and trying to discount it on price – I don’t really think that’s what the customers are looking for. They’re looking for fuel and operating-cost efficiency and that’s what we focused on with the 787.”
Despite the growing popularity of the stretched 787-9 and -10 variants, Wojick sees demand for the baseline -8 remaining strong. Total Dreamliner sales stand at 1,031 aircraft, including 140 787-8s that have been delivered, according to Boeing. The 787-8 accounts for almost 40% (346 aircraft) of the 891 orders on backlog.
“The 787-8 really doesn’t have a competitor. Between the 767-300 and the A330-200, there’s close to 1,500 airplanes flying today and their real replacement is going to be the 787-8,” says Wojick.
“We’re continuing to see lots of interest in the -8. We’ve actually had some people who have been asking to convert from 787-9s back to -8s – and vice versa,” he adds. “So we think there’s a great future for the 787-8.”