Leahy challenges Boeing's 737 Max fuel burn savings claims

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Airbus' new A320neo family will have up to 11% better fuel burn than the Boeing 737 Max family, said John Leahy, COO Customers for Airbus.

Speaking at the Credit Suisse aerospace conference today, Leahy challenged Boeing's claims that the 737-800 Max will have a 7% advantage on a seat-cost basis. Boeing computes its figures on a total cash operating cost basis, which Leahy rejects as being subject to manipulation.

"There are some very aggressive people in marketing and Seattle that are veracity challenged," Leahy said.

"I think that best way to look at it when everything else is equal is fuel burn. If you look at something where you can really change the variables too much, [it's flawed]. If they say 'I think the Airbus airframe is more expensive to maintain than our airframe,' I advertise that it is less expensive. I think most airlines would agree with me. The worst I've ever seen is that we are equal. Boeing says the Airbus engine is substantially more expensive to maintain. They say Airbus is heavier so they put in a little bit extra charges. By the time you're done, you probably see all sorts of different things to throw money in. If you can convince the airlines that you are right, I wouldn't have the dominant market share I have. They would."

On this basis, Leahy said the A320neo will defeat the 737 Max in each model. The A319neo will have a 6% lower fuel burn than the 737-7; the A320neo will have 6% lower fuel burn; and the A321neo will have 11% lower burn.

He also said Airbus' analysis concludes the Max will only achieve a net fuel burn reduction of 8% against the 10% to 12%Boeing claims.