In terms of the global airline fleet, it helps to understand the players and their critical mass. The chart illustrates this and provides some surprises. We have 28,128 aircraft listed.
Boeing’s sheer heft in the business is remarkable. It may be that Airbus is selling faster and even producing more, but it will take years, maybe even decades, for it to catch up with Boeing.
Boeing has seen off every competitor for so long that some comment on the firm’s arrogance. Arrogance may be too harsh, but perhaps some of Boeing’s hubris is justified. The company is manifestly the industry’s leader by user base. This is testimony to its building aircraft that last because they are well made. Airbus has done a tremendous job of growth and, in so doing, eclipsed a number of the grand old names in aviation. Look at how the “grand old” names in commercial aviation have slipped down the rankings. An inability to invest in new ideas and execute on on what customers wanted and needed have left these firms in the shadows. As both Boeing and Airbus have shown, airlines want families of aircraft that allow for maximum flexibility. Bombardier and Embraer also offer families, albeit on a much smaller scale.
That said, Bombardier and Embraer account for 18% of the global fleet, which is just over 5,000 aircraft. Not a market to sneeze at. But for perspective, there are over 6,300 737s and 4,400 A319/320s in service . Which is why Airbus and Boeing can be expected to defend the space from the likes of the CSeries and the revised E-Jets. The A319/320 represents 62% of the Airbus global fleet and the 737 represents 58% of the global Boeing fleet. There is no way a new entrant enters that space without push back.
Which is why Bombardier stresses “Game Changing” aspects of its CSeries. It has to keep pointing out its aircraft’s key strengths. At the same time the fact that Airbus and Boeing have reacted with product refreshes signals their intent to make every competition a street fight. Airbus and Boeing have too much at stake and know that if Bombardier and Embraer gain a foothold they will stretch their offerings, improving economics and shrinking the duopoly share. The incumbents will contest this using every marketing trick they have. Given that Airbus and Boeing compete aggressively on every deal now, they are at the top of their game. New entrants face a miserable and relentless baptism of fire.
A surprise here is to see high Tupolev is ranked. Its global fleet is an order of magnitude greater than any other CIS OEM. Moreover, given the age of the CIS built aircraft (SSJ excepted) the longevity of the Tupolevs fleet is impressive.
If fleet age and energy-economic obsolescence are considered, closing the gap may not take as long as suggested.