Karen Walker

While Airbus Industrie (AI) enters Farnborough with nine letters of interest for the A3XX, and the possibility of more during the Show, there remain some vocal doubters among the world¹s flagship airlines.

Some carriers are merely sceptical of the need for such a large-capacity aircraft in the current timeframe. The A3XX is slated to enter service in 2005 and this might still coincide with the next industry downturn.

Others are fiercer in their criticism, accusing the programme of being a political white elephant that could potentially play havoc with airline yields. A KLM Financial Services senior director has described the A3XX as "very dangerous" because it limits an airline¹s ability to be flexible. He says there is no rationale for the aircraft right now.


There is a fear among some airlines and financial analysts that if a few significant carriers sign up for the A3XX, others will feel forced to follow. They say the ensuing jump in seat capacity could saturate certain key markets and lead to a global airline price war - good for passengers, but bad for airline yields.

There is also a notable lack of US carriers on the A3XX 'letters of interest' list. If any US airlines do come forward, analysts believe they are more likely to be the cargo carriers, such as Atlas Air or FedEx.

Analysts further point out that airlines are still playing a tactical game and will continue their negotiations with both Airbus and Boeing for some time. It would be an advantage, the carriers feel, to have both manufacturers competing in this market sector rather than have to deal with a monopoly supplier.

Source: Flight Daily News