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April 12, 2024
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John Leahy, Airbus COO Customers, April 5 showed just how confident Airbus is in its single aisle family. He said: “We see an open market of 12,000 Single Aisle aircraft by 2030. I expect to sell at least 6,000 neo which would be 50 percent.” Claiming that the NEO is so good, the company expects to sell A320s of all types (Legacy and NEO) to 2030.  This is quite remarkable because by 2030 it is generally believed that new designs will be ready to replace current single aisle airliners. Boeing has mentioned they might have something ready by 2020.

The 2030 period could see the A320 being produced for over 40 years.  Indeed, it would seem that with spending under $2bn Airbus virtually re-invents its successful A320.  Boeing might not be able to avoid doing a “re-engine” even though continued comment from the company indicates they are leaning towards a new design.  Such a project could run close to $10bn.

Mr Leahy mentioned that were Airbus to start with a clean sheet today, they would in all likelihood end with something that looks like an A320neo.  So they are confident this is the right decision.  He went on to say that he believes Boeing will end up doing a re-engine on the 737.  This echoes similar comments heard at the recent ISTAT conference.

The A320 design being much newer lends itself to the re-engine idea more easily than does the 737.  Mr Leahy noted that Boeing got the 737NG common-rated with the 737 Classic even though the NG was clearly a more than 50% new airplane.  Therefore the NEO, which is more than 90% common with the A320 is a great idea, he says – a pilot needs two hours of self training via a computer to switch from A320 to NEO.  Offering current customers a real easy upgrade path that ensures better performance over the next two decades.

Airbus says the A320neo is a “minimum change maximum benefit” for them. A 737RE looks good for Boeing too – certainly a lower risk, lower cost and exploits the existing customer base than an all new airplane. How will Seattle react?

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1 thought on “The A320 – Good Till 2030?

  1. With all due respect to Mr. john Leahy’s well deserved reputation in
    the aviation industry, I believe he is wrong about Boeing having been out-maneuvered by Airbus with A320NEO, based on the assumption that Boeing will not be able to re-engine the 737 for cost reasons. This is true by itself, because of the major structural changes required on the 737 and not on the A320, to accommodate the new fuel-efficient, but larger diameter engines, underneath it’s wing.

    However, John and Airbus may well have made a very serious tactical error, by making the above erroneous assumption, because I believe that Boeing will come out as early as this year, at the PAS, with an all new seven abreast 737, which could very well put the A320NEO in very serious jeopardy before it even flies, because of its conventional and thus relatively heavy structure, vis-à-vis the all new 737!

    While Airbus is still struggling to get their first composite-based and much larger A350 built on time, Boeing will be able to take advantage of the massive amount of experience gained with the 787, both good and bad, to give the new 737 a major operating cost advantage from the start, over the A320NEO.

    Airbus will not be able to overcome this disadvantage for many years to come, being stuck with the investments made in the NEO and the many delivery commitments made to customers for that specific airplane.

    For the above very strong reasons, I sincerely hope that Boeing will indeed launch the all new 737 this year and regain the superiority position Boeing had in this category for two decades, until the A320 appeared on the scene in the mid 1980s.

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