Airlines Need New Planes, but the Supply Chain Has Other Ideas
Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, just made a big announcement: They will open the door to the private sector to provide new aircraft for the airline industry.
“Airbus is in the process of entering into a global partnership with a major French and US manufacturer to design, make, market, and profit from new aircraft,” Airbus said.
That’s an enormous deal and would have a major impact on the industry and the way airlines get planes. But it’s also complicated.
The plane Airbus needs to have for this program will cost about $50 billion [for a 777-9 and 787-9], according to Bloomberg’s Ben Fritz. That’s a lot of money, which is already a bit of a problem
The company will partner with Boeing, which has a lot of airplane production plants in the U.S.–some of which are currently mothballed–and so, they will be forced to either bring those production lines back, or find some other way to get the business. That’s an extremely tall order.
We can think of companies like Bombardier and Alenia that can’t be seen to be doing business with Airbus unless they get a huge chunk of the money and are able to keep the cash.
Fritz reports that the new plane Airbus wants to make will take the place of the current 747-8 and -9. Those two planes have been used in service for more than 25 years and they’re now being phased out in favor of the next-generation planes that Airbus is set to offer.
The new planes will be smaller, more fuel-efficient and, as Forbes reports, able to get around the world more safely because they will be “more efficient at stopping and turning.”
That’s a pretty tall order and all the money is going to be on Boeing and Airbus to figure out how to make it happen.
Even if it could happen, the problem is that airlines can’t all make the same decision. If one airline is going to buy a plane, it wants it to be the kind of aircraft that it can sell in the market. For example, Southwest is planning to buy the Airbus A350.