787 Makes A330neo Look Like Abject A340

The 2014 launch of the A330neo was supposed to herald a quick fix solution for Airbus to take on the 787-8 and 787-9 families. It has been anything but quick – especially for what is essentially a makeover project of a now gas guzzling twin whose best years are firmly in the past.

Sales wise, the A330neo family has been nothing short of a disaster – Airbus may well drop the A330-800neo whose orders have not materialised – a stark reminder of its abject inferiority versus the 787 family.

With no engines yet delivered for the A330-900neo, the program slippage underscores how irrelevant it will be when it does finally enter service. Just who in their right mind would want this “me-too” airplane whose costs are ballooning – rendering Airbus’ pricing power even more fragile when it comes to trying to win more orders.

After several years in service, the 787 is robustly slashing fuel costs and opening up airline route capability in a way that then A330neo is never going to be able to do.

As it stands, the A330neo likens itself to the poor-selling A340 family. And if Airbus cannot secure sizeable, non-junk credit rated airline orders, the A330 production rate will have to be negatively adjusted.

Given that the A330 is Airbus’ sole widebody [low margin] cashcow, the impact here would be far more profound than that for Boeing during its 777-777X transition.

Image Courtesy of Qantas.

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