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Two stories illustrate the contrast in timing between Airbus and Boeing in the narrow-body market this year. The first speaks about Airbus pressing on with its new plan seen as immune to the travel slump, while the second tallies July cancellations that have cut the MAX backlog by 860 in 2020. It all comes down to having the right product at the right time, and coming out of the pandemic, Airbus has that product and Boeing doesn’t. The A321XLR provides the economics of a narrow-body aircraft with a longer range, making the aircraft capable of trans-Atlantic operations and is the ideal replacement for aging Boeing 757s. As a lower-cost alternative with lower seating capacity, the aircraft is ideally positioned for airlines coming out of the pandemic seeing lower traffic on key international routes. With more than 450 orders from carriers that include American and United in the US, the A321 XLR faces no current competitor from Boeing, which did not replace the 757 nor provide an efficient replacement in the MAX series. The MAX 10, which has not yet been certified, was to be the competitor to the A321, but it falls short on both range and runway performance to effectively compete. Combined with the poor public image of the MAX after the two fatal crashes and an 18-month grounding, it is doubtful that Boeing can match Airbus’ success in the large narrow-body market.


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