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Monday, October 23, 2006

Boeing to Kick Airbus While They’re Down

By William Trent, CFA of Stock Market Beat

We were among the many who reported on Airbus’ continuing woes with their A-380 Jumbo Jet. Now archrival Boeing aims to capitalize on their misfortune, possibly turning the A-380 into a huge white elephant.

Aero-News Network reports:
In an apparent answer to Airbus’ A380, Boeing is stretching the 747-8 to seat 467 pax now. They’ll have to pull a little harder to match the massive A380’s 550 passengers, but clearly, Boeing believes there’s a market for large people carriers.

Not necessarily. They could just be figuring that, as in horseshoes, close will be good enough for many customers. Learning from their success with the 787, Boeing is incorporating some lessons.

Specifically, the Chicago planemaker says the 747-8 is 11% lighter comparing the total weight of the plane to the number of seats, and will consume 10% less fuel per passenger than the A380. It says that translates to a 19% lower trip-cost and a 3% reduction in seat-mile costs.

Plus, it says, existing infrastructure can handle the jet at most airports worldwide.

By not having to make adjustments, Boeing may lure some customers off the fence, or steal some who have become frustrated with the delays at Airbus.

Airbus is ahead of Boeing in the large-passenger aircraft order race with over 150 signed up for its A380. The only problem for Airbus is the program is 2 years behind schedule and it looks like they’ll have to sell sell as many as 420 to break even on development costs.

And there is the real kicker. If they can sell just enough of their model to keep Airbus in the red they score a double victory. In the end, we think Boeing understands that the future looks smaller.

The author may hold a position in the securities discussed. A current list of the author's holdings is available here.

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