Airbus and Boeing have a big problem if unconfirmed reports that Lufthansa has split an order for $14 billion worth of new twin-engined widebody jets between them are true.
The first of those reports appeared on Bloomberg earlier this morning Australian time.
It implies that the German giant’s future needs for 50 jets in the high 300-low 400 passenger sized range in multi-class formats will be satisfied by 25 Airbus A350-900s and 25 Boeing 777X series jets.
And it would add to what has in just a few years become the new normal for large value airliner purchases, which is to divide the spoils between the two airliner makers and eschew their emphasis on negotiating bargain prices per jet conditional on winner-takes-all decisions.
This new dilemma for A and B is exemplified by huge split orders for single aisle jets by American Airlines, Norwegian Air Shuttle and Lion Air of Indonesia divided between current and future versions of the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 lines, and Air France KLM and Singapore Airlines dividing up the spoils of medium sized wide body orders between the A350s and Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
That doesn’t ever make for two winners for each contest, because as any bean counter will argue, they really mean two losers looking at ‘lost’ orders running into the billions. The engine makers are more fortunate, since it is possible for a split order to give all of the necessary powerplants to Rolls-Royce, GE or CFM.
Nor are these split orders being decided between two precisely identical offerings. The 777-X family will be upsized compared to the earlier A350s, and the A350 models are all larger than the smallest version of the 787 and so forth.
But if the report concerning the Lufthansa decision is correct, Airbus and Boeing will have to do something to break the new brand independent attitude of their biggest buyers.
A reporter since November 30, 1960, Ben Sandilands looks at what really matters up in the sky: public administration of air transport and its safety, the accountability of the carriers, and space for everyone’s knees.
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