New sales of the stalwart Airbus A319 and Boeing 737-700 have largely dried up, after amassing combined deliveries of 2,554 aircraft through June 30, 2012. Sales of the A319neo have been tepid and non-existent for the 737-7 MAX, and the combined backlog for these two programs stood at 489 units, some of which will not be realized as those orders will be shifted to larger models. Leasing companies will often order the smaller, lower priced model to minimize down payments and later change orders to larger, more expensive variants.
These aircraft once dominated the 100-149 seat market, but no longer. In a new study focusing on this segment, Embraer now dominates recent sales with its E190/195 108-122 seat jets. Bombardier’s CSeries is outselling the duopoly. Sukhoi’s Superjet 100, at the 100-seat mark, is also showing respectable sales.
The Airbus A318 and Boeing 737-600, each seating around 108 passenger, ostensibly are still offered for sale, but in reality are non-players. The 737-600 hasn’t seen a sale since 2005. The A318 has only recently sold in the form of a business jet, but not to airlines. Combined, these models have delivered only 146 units, some of which were business jets.
The new AirInsight study, Market Analysis of the 100-149 Seat Segment, concludes that on the typical missions of aircraft operating in this segment, the A319ceo, the A319neo, the 737-700 and the 737-7 MAX can’t match the economics of the E-190/195, the CS100, CS300 and even the SSJ100. Analysis demonstrates that the typical aircraft mission in the United States, where data is readily available, is 60-120 minutes. This is well below the capabilities of all aircraft examined. The lighter-weight aircraft, however, have distinct advantages over the Airbus and Boeing products, including the re-engined models. Bombardier’s CSeries, with all-new technology for the airframe and the engines, will be the leader in trip and fuel burn costs.
With poor sales for the A319ceo/neo and 737-700 and no sales for the 7 MAX as yet, what will the future be for these airplanes?
We believe that at best the Airbus and Boeing models will each capture around 10% of the 100-149 seat segment during the next 20 years. Bombardier forecasts a need for 6,900 airplanes. Airbus is more conservative, with a forecast of 5,115. Boeing doesn’t specifically break out this segment in its 20 year single-aisle forecast, but by extrapolating a number of public statements, we conclude that Boeing forecasts a need for about 5,200 aircraft. Embraer forecasts a need for slightly fewer than 4,000 aircraft in the 90-125 seat segment in which it competes.
While we conclude that the Airbus and Boeing products, including the re-engined versions, will be economically disadvantaged to the E-Jets (including the anticipated E-Jet ReEngine), CSeries and SSJ100, there remains a niche for markets beyond the capabilities of the Embraer, Bombardier and Sukhoi aircraft.
The advantage the forthcoming 737-7 MAX and the A319neo and the current generation Airbus and Boeing jets have over the aforementioned aircraft is range. The EJets’ maximum range is 2,400nm. It is 2,950nm for the CSeries. The SSJ100 is strictly a short-to-medium range aircraft.
The new A319neo has an advertised range of 4,200nm. The 737-7’s advertised range is 3,800nm. This enables these aircraft to perform missions on long, thin routes that are beyond the range of the EJets and the newcomers but which don’t need the capacity of the A320ceo/neo, 737-800/9 and their larger brethren.
American Airlines, for example, has publicly said it plans to use the A319ceo/neo on routes from its Miami and Dallas hubs to Latin America to replace Boeing 757s, which are too big for certain markets. Many of these routes are beyond the range of the competing jets.
There will be similar routes in other hemispheres where the long-thin economics of the A319neo and 737-7 MAX will likely make sense. But these aircraft are now reduced to niche airplanes on the services for which their ancestors once dominated.