Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The long-haul market in the trough of the wave

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For a long time the long haul has been the Eldorado of Boeing. The 707 and the 747 not only wrote the legend of the American aircraft manufacturer, but above all ensured his good fortune. January 25 will remain a major date in this long history with the first test flight of the 777X, the latest of the group's long-haul flights.

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With the A380 production halted by Airbus due to a lack of customers, the 777X becomes the world's largest jet. A large bird with wings with such an impressive wingspan (72 meters long) that their ends can be folded up to circulate at certain airports. More sober than its predecessor, the 777-300ER, with a consumption lower by 13%, it will be able to transport up to 426 passengers over 14,000 kilometers. It places itself as a direct competitor to the Airbus A350.

The birth of this new aircraft comes while wide-body aircraft are in the hollow of the wave. Contrary to the hopes of the manufacturers, their sales did not soar. Entering service in 2015, the A350 was ordered five years later only 935 units. After almost ten years of career, the 787 Dreamliner has garnered only 1,485. The 777X starts off slowly with a total of 546 aircraft.

Because of the price of oil, assures Bob Lange, responsible for analyzes and forecasting at Airbus. "This is a well-known phenomenon in the aeronautical industry", he assures. "When fuel prices are low, airlines choose to modernize their fleet and therefore keep their planes in service longer to recoup their investments", points the manager. But "This shifts the renewal of the fleets all the more. Five years on average ", He laments.

Too expensive and more difficult to fill for companies

But oil is not the only cause of the long-haul slump. Jumbo jets would be too expensive and more difficult for airlines to fill. Two faults which have already got the A380 right. Behind the scenes, some point to the prices of the A350, announced, list price above 300 million dollars per unit (250 million euros), but actually sold to customer companies between 90 and 100 million of dollars. "Airbus has a real competitiveness problem", says Stéphane Albernhe, president of the consulting firm Archery Strategy Consulting (ASC). However, the prices of the Airbus jumbo would be comparable to those of the 787 and much more competitive than those of the 777X that Boeing would offer, list price again, above $ 400 million. At this price, it will have the heavy task of succeeding the 777-300 ER, the best-selling wide-body aircraft.

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