Airbus surging ahead of Boeing says Qatar Airways

September 14, 2020
Image: Airbus

Airbus is emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic in far better shape than its arch-rival Boeing says one of the world’s leading aircraft buyers.

Speaking exclusively with Qatar Airways chief Mr. Al Baker said “Airbus is in a far better position than Boeing.”

Airbus’s (350-seat) A350-1000 is performing “better than promised” for the airline and its single-aisle A321neo family is “very good” for the market.

Last week Mr. Al Baker said Boeing should ditch its 737 MAX because of all the bad publicity and design a clean-sheet aircraft as soon as possible.

However, the dilemma for Boeing is that the 737 MAX is 80 percent of its commercial backlog and it has already suffered cancellations for 709 this year.

READ: European regulator closes on 737MAX re-certification.

And airlines are deferring orders for its lucrative wide-body line-up including what will be the largest passenger jet in production, the 400-seat 777X.

The other big seller for Boeing, the 787, is now under the microscope with four separate production quality issues, which by themselves are not too significant but in combination, very serious.

The US regulator the Federal Aviation Administration is going to review 787 quality-control issues at Boeing that could go back over 10 years.

Eight 787s have been grounded over the problems and almost 900 need to be inspected.

While the quality lapse will not cause an immediate safety issue it is another black eye for Boeing, which is still trying to get its 737 MAX recertified.

This year Airbus has taken orders for 370 aircraft and had 67 cancellations for a total backlog of 7,501 aircraft.

Typically, Airbus and Boeing are neck and neck for orders but Boeing has had 773 cancellations this year and its backlog has shrunk to just 4,387.

And the problems don’t end there with deliveries of its new 400-seat long-range 777X delayed till 2022 as airlines grapple with the pandemic.

Boeing holds over 300 orders for the 777X from blue-chip international carriers whose traffic is the worse affected by the pandemic because of closed borders.

On the flip-side Airbus’s biggest seller is the 140-220 seat A320neo family with 6,065 to build and airlines are less likely to cancel as the aircraft is essentially short-to medium-haul, perfect for domestic routes or intra-Europe.

Only military sales and cargo aircraft are bright lights for Boeing.

In July it won a contract worth US$23 billion ($33b) to build 144 F-15EX fighters and there are options for another 200.

The F-15 has been a stellar fighter for the US Air Force and its allies with over 100 victories and no losses in aerial combat of which the majority have been claimed by the Israeli Air Force.

The aircraft first flew in 1972 and has had eight major upgrades.

Moving forward Boeing’s ability to launch an all-new aircraft has been severely impacted as its customer airlines are fighting for survival.

Analysts suggest that the only solution to launch a new aircraft is a major collaboration with Japanese banks and industry.