Gamesmanship in the Air

I think the commercial aviation space is an interesting one to watch. It is interesting to see Boeing and Airbus joust with each other. Boeing has chosen the route of speed and efficiency with its new 7E7 development. Airbus has gone with making really big planes with its A380.

The latest is reported today in the WSJ [sub. needed]. Airbus unveiled a revised plan to develop a plane to compete with the 7E7. The A350 will supposedly have more capacity and a longer range. The design for the A350 has already needed to be updated once, after fleet managers didn’t see any real advantage to it over the A330. The A350 is basically a A330 with new wings. Any pilot certified on the A330 will be able to fly the A350.

Both companies are bickering back and forth about whose plane will be better, but the importance of the story is in the broad strokes. Boeing wanted to have 200 planes sold by the end of the year. At this point they have only sold about 50. Merely announcing a potentially new plane, Airbus slows down any traction Boeing was getting. They probably threw some engineers at the A350, but they essential spent no money to create a huge story – one that matches nicely with being the leader in aircraft sales last year and most likely this year.

I think this a brilliant move on Airbus’ part. They have market leadership and they make announcements to cement in people’s minds that they are the market leader.

P.S. Stuck right next to the A350 story on A10 is an American Airline story stating they are going to defer delivery of 54 Boeing jets. Rough PR day for Boeing.

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