Boeing continues to lose customers of the 737 Max. Meanwhile, Airbus is stepping up its A220 programme. A study does not see this as a coincidence. Is there anything to that?
Airbus has always declared that it does not want to profit from Boeing’s problems with the 737 Max. «The A320 Neo is the A320 Neo and the 737 Max is the 737 Max,» declared CEO Guillaume Faury last year. In addition, he added, there was no way to take advantage of the competitor’s crisis. After all, his own product has been sold out for years.
Indeed, Airbus has an impressive number of orders on hand. The aircraft manufacturer has yet to deliver a total of 6147 A3219 Neo, A320 Neo and A321 Neo. So even if customers wanted to switch to him, they couldn’t do so without long waiting periods.
Airbus accelerates its new regional jet program
However, there are indications that Airbus is increasingly trying to promote another product as an alternative for the 737 Max. One revealing fact in this respect is a change that became known in February. Green Africa Airways is planning to take off with A220-300, previously it had been planning with Boeing 737 Max.
At that time, Airbus also increased its share in the A220 program from 50 to 75 percent. The Canadian province of Quebec holds the remaining share. Developer Bombardier is no longer involved in the program. Airbus CEO Faury announced in the same month that the manufacturer intends to invest between 500 million and one billion euros in the A220 programme in 2020. “This announcement is probably an indication that Airbus is trying to capitalise on the setbacks of the Boeing 737 Max,” writes the analysis and consulting firm Global Data.
A220 well available
Because there is a substantial number of them. In March, the American aviation authority, on all of the approximately 800 737 Max produced, demanded a new wiring of a weak point in the tail area. Shortly before, Boeing discovered foreign bodies in the tanks of two thirds of all aircraft. This increases the uncertainty about the still uncertain re-registration, the analysts conclude.
In terms of availability, Airbus is also well positioned with the A220 in Boeing’s home territory despite recent trade wars between the USA and the European Union. The European group is now having the regional jet manufactured in Mirabel, Canada, and in Mobile, Alabama, USA. With the latter production line, Airbus has been able to avoid horrendous US punitive tariffs since 2019.
A poor start to the year for Boeing
Airbus’ regional jet competes in the larger version A220-300 against the smallest Max version 737 Max 7. With 160 seats, the A220-300 can carry twelve passengers less than the 737 Max 7. With a range of about 6,200 kilometres, the A220 can also fly about 1,000 kilometres less – but with a list price of 91.5 million dollars, the A220 is about 8 million dollars cheaper.
The small Boeing 737 Max 7 is not really popular with airlines, though. Out of more than 4,800 orders for the 737 Max, less than 100 are placed with the shortest series. The introduction of stretch variants for the A320 Neo and the 737 Max showed that narrow-body aircraft with larger capacities and ranges are becoming increasingly popular with airlines.
A220 is also likely to be extended
And Airbus is also thinking about this with the A220. While Bombardier had no money to develop a C-Series CS500 and CS900 and thus a larger version, the European manufacturer is showing increasing interest. At present, experts are already convinced that a stretch is a foregone conclusion. Only when it will come is still unclear.