Boeing’s wide-body 747-8 aircraft doesn’t have the same “potential” as Airbus’ jumbo A380, the French company’s CEO has said.
Speaking to reporters recently, Fabrice Brégier, president and CEO of Airbus, dismissed the 747-8 as being a dated aircraft.
“We have 160 A380s in our backlog. I would prefer to have 500 or 600 but how many 747-8s does Boeing have in its backlog? I don’t think it’s close to 160,” said Brégier.
“I don’t think there is the same potential in the 747-8, which is a now dated aircraft. Would they [Boeing] need the 777X if the 747-8 were a good aircraft? The answer is no.”
However speaking to a select group of Middle East media in Washington DC, Shep Hill, president of Boeing International, argued differently.
“We would argue that a 747-8 in terms of seat model cost is significantly more efficient and cost effective than an A380,” he said.
“The A380 is a magnificent aircraft. It is quiet, big, fascinating… we just do not think that there is a very large market for that size of aircraft. We don’t mind that Airbus built one that big.”
But the market for both the aircrafts – part of the Very Large Aircraft (VLA) sector – is rapidly shrinking, say experts.
A recent report by aviation consultancy AirInsight stated that the VLA market will continue to remain stagnant for four-engine aircraft.
“The incumbent aircraft in this sector, A380 and 747-8, are struggling to gain customers, and have shrinking backlogs as deliveries continue. The outlook for these aircraft has dimmed, and we believe sales will fall well short of manufacturer projections,” the report said.
The firm estimated that net orders for VLA aircraft from 2000 to September 2013 stood at 482 – 262 for Airbus A380 and 220 for 747. Together, they only constitute 12.1 per cent of total aircraft orders.
“We believe that the VLA market, which is smaller than industry analysts projected when A380 and 747-8 were introduced, will continue to shrink, as route dispersion and the “right-sizing” of aircraft to routes continues to drive airline fleet decision-making,” said the report.
“There will be routes well suited to the A380 and 747-8, but many of these have already been developed, and congestion has not yet reached the point to force increases in gauge at most airports.
“As a result, we believe A380 and 747-8 will both find tough sledding in the market, as they compete for a narrow market niche that appears to be shrinking,” the report added.