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April 19, 2024
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0841881News from Icelandair announces the retirement of two old 757s and the bringing back of the 767.  It has been ten years since the 767 last flew for the airline.

The airline plans to acquire two 767-300ERs and they will be used between London and JFK over Keflavik from April.

If one looks at the airline’s route network, the planned 737MAXs on order cannot deliver the payload or the range for a number of destinations.  Icelandair is one of those airlines for whom the 757 was and remains ideal.  The 767 offers the extra payload and range to reach destinations beyond the reach of the MAX.

The 767 offers the airline a lot of commonality for pilots.  As the airline up-gauges, consider that it is staying loyal to Boeing.  One might have thought it would lease the 787 rather than go back to the 767.  But the 787 is probably too complex to only have two in the fleet.  Plus it has way too much range for the network requirements. The mantra about airlines being risk averse stands.

Next consider that the airline has not gone for the close to 757 performance A321. Again this might be to stay withing a narrow range of its pilot training and experience – avoiding risk.   Switching the fleet to Airbus would be disruptive for the airline but very popular in Toulouse.

What this decision tells us that Icelandair is one of those airlines for whom the MoM is an issue.  It needs an aircraft with economics that work on long thin routes and also shorter but thicker routes. The 757 is excellent for this sort of work. Which is why it has been so popular in the US.

At 260 seats the airline’s 767s will be at the high end in terms of capacity. Boeing has described the current ideal MoM as having 20% more capacity than the 757 plus 25% more range.  For Icelandair it looks like an ideal MoM would have 250 seats and 6,000NM range.  This is outside Boeing’s MoM box.

This demonstrates just how hard it is to define the MoM. Boeing has to look at every airline’s requirements and then define the sweet spot.  All the while it is doing this, Airbus disrupts prospects with a compelling mix of A321 and A330s.  No matter what Boeing comes up with, Airbus likely has a simpler (and annoyingly cheaper) short term option.

Boeing is up for the challenge, of that we are certain.  Loyal customers like Icelandair must be comforting and its MAX orders prove their loyalty.  But how long before even the most loyal customer can’t wait to replace aging and increasingly expensive 757s?

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10 thoughts on “Iceland up-gauges with MoM implications

  1. Just run past me again why Iceland needs an aircraft with 6,000 nm range?

  2. It will be interesting (and telling) to see how the new CEO addresses the MoM issue.

  3. Of all the bad options, why not re-wing the 737 with a longer carbon fiber wing with folding tips, and add longer landing gear to allow a larger fan diameter. That would give the 737 the range necessary to fulfill all 757 roles at minimal expense compared to the alternatives. The longer gear could also allow a further stretch. The same design team that is re-winging the 777 could shift to the 737, bringing its freshly acquired experience to bear on the 737 project. Boeing has no good option, but this would seem to be the lowest cost and fastest to develop alternative. Potentially, the new wing could be offered as an option for the 757 replacement model only. Boeing is planning to build the new 777 on the same line as the existing 777 freighter, so could use the same process to build the 737 in two wing versions.

  4. Icelandair’s continued dependance on 737 is not by choice but from sales-political arbitration at Airbus top level. A relative of Stuart Iddles’ Mexican wife was Agent to Airbus’ sales efforts aimed at landing an Aeromexico order in 1987 for 30 A320 family aircraft. Thirty early A320 delivery slots were kept locked for twelve months, reserved for Aeromexico, not even offered ‘STPS’ as was the common practise in most campaigns. Early in 1987 Airbus was informed by Icelandair aircraft selection committee that the A320 was favoured, subject to not having to wait two more years, till Spring 1991 for the first two A320 slots vs the same from Boeing for 737-400, in Spring 1989. “We’ll accept to wait ONE MORE YEAR to get the better A320”, Icelandair said ! Consequentlly, the Icelandair case was up to Airbus sales arbitration, the proposal from area sales being to requisition two Spring 1990 slots from the Aeromexico offer, to gain Icelandair. Stuart Iddles ruled ‘No !’. As expected, Airbus lost the Aeromexico campaign, immediately the hold upon those two 1990 slots was relaxed but it was too late, the train had left the station :
    Had History been written otherwise, then these days Icelandair would have been adding more A321LR for their MOM expansion.

  5. Good point – but it seems the compromise is in. Range not needed and probably sacrificed for more payload.

  6. Short term the 737-8ERX with a 4,000nmi range is an option. Long term a 737 wing redesign is almost the same cost as clean sheet design. Use the 777X experience, with an all new aluminum fuselage and carbon wings, and one fuselage diameter, two wings and four or five lengths, like the current 737 & 757 family. The 757-300 has the capacity, 243 (two-class) and 295 (one class). The 757-200/300 ranges are now only 4,100/3595 nmi, but add 20% for better engines, 5% for aero and weight improvements and 14% to 25% for more fuel in a larger fuselage to get 6,000 nmi. Increase the fuselage from 148″ to 156″ to match the a320 or to 166″ for a twin with 2x2x2 seating.

  7. The 767 line is still open and the 767-200MAX,or what ever it called would be called is a good size to fill the shoes of the 757. 200+ seats and about a 5000+ mile range. With some wing tweaks, some weight reduction, and new engines,it would sell quite well as many airlines and routes do not need a 300 seat wide body.
    Boeing should have offered this about 4 to 5 years ago, a minimal investment on a frame from the 80’s.
    If it worked for the 737. it should work for the 767.

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