State of the Airlines

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Does Airbus Need to Decide? A380 or A350

The impact of the besieged A380 project came into stark focus today as Airbus admitted it has fallen ten years behind Boeing. Everyone following this debacle knows that the A380 is bleeding resources and finances from their other major projects, namely the A400M and the A350 XWB. Is it time for Airbus to reconsider the their projects and their future?
Airbus says the A400M, a military airlift aircraft, has no cushion left in its timeline to absorb further delays and will not make money unless costs can be cut. Ouch...double whammy.
The A350 XWB is no stranger to this aircraft that Airbus intends to pit against the Boeing 787. Airbus parent company EADS is now stating that they will not let this project move forward until the company demonstrates that they can manage the A380 and have the finances for the additional project. I am suggesting that maybe EADS needs to reconsider their priorities. Should the A380 take precedence over the A350?
I have suggested that the A380, even in concept, was doomed to be a small player in the airline business. Just a handfull of airlines flying it to the few airports that will spend the money so that they can handle the aircraft.
In my mind the timeline of the A350 XWB makes that project dead in the water unless Boeing makes some large errors in delivering the 787. I see this as an even bigger problem than the A380. Consider this quote from a Reuters article:
After several false starts, Airbus has come up with a new wider design for the A350 to try to halt a surge in sales of Boeing's rival 787 Dreamliner. Both planes exist only on paper, but the mid-sized market has become the biggest battleground between the two firms despite public attention to the A380.
Nobody's saying it yet but I am beginning to wonder. Should Airbus consider killing the A380 in favor of getting the A350 back on track? Should they devote themselves to bringing making the A350 XWB a reality and push the timeline back on the A380? Is the A380 simply ahead of its time or will its time ever come?

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