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Negotiating or just slagging off? Modern art of aircraft deals

Throughout the decades, air travel improved in comfort, entertainment, safety, speed. The process of conceiving an aircraft, seemingly also changed.

From the de Havilland Comet that was born as a result of a study led by Lord Brabazon of Tara, to Juan Trippe, the chief executive at the now-bankrupt Pan Am, influencing Boeing into the 747. Things have not changed today, either: American Airlines, for example, indicated that it “intends to order 100 of Boeing’s expected new evolution of the 737NG, with a new engine that would offer even more significant fuel-efficiency gains over today’s models.” That order was made in July 2011. In February of the same year, Jim McNerney, the former president and CEO of Boeing, stated that the company will do a new airplane and that Boeing’s “current bias is to not re-engine.”

The expected evolution turned out to be the 737 MAX, despite the biases of the manufacturer. However, manufacturers might not always listen to the customers’ wishes. A prime example is the never-ending rumor mill about the Boeing New Midsize Airplane (NMA), or the Airbus A340. While the former is still just a bunch of drawings on a piece of paper, the latter entered the market with a splish-splash, rather than a splash. Its smaller brother, the A330 managed to amass almost 1,500 orders, including the new engine option (neo) variant. The A340 ended its lackluster career with 377 deliveries. While it might not have been a case of not listening to customers, but rather the advancement of engines and relaxed extended-range twin-engine operations (ETOPS) rules, the A340 did not become the star that Airbus envisioned it to be.

But customers of the A340 are rarely seen complaining, even as of recently. While most of the quad-engine aircraft are being put to retirement, Swiss International Air Lines CEO Thomas Klühr stated to local media that the A340 is “an ideal aircraft for the airline,” as they are much easier to fill than their other long-haul aircraft, the Boeing 777, which seats more than 100 passengers compared to the quad-engine Airbus.

But not everyone is as happy as Klühr.

“[…] if Boeing don‘t get their shit together quickly“

Stated Michael O‘Leary, the CEO of Ryanair, as the company announced its Q1 FY2020 results.

“We were originally expecting 58 aircraft for the summer of 2020. That is now 30 at best. It may well move to 20, it could move to 10, and it could well move to 0 if Boeing does not get their s**t together,” stated O’Leary.

But the outlandish Irish executive hit out at Boeing only for the delay of the 737 MAX’s return. Other than that, the low-cost carrier has repeatedly stated that the narrow-body is a “game-changer,” as it significantly reduces operational costs compared to the previous generation 737, the Next Generation (NG).

So much so, that O’Leary believes the aircraft will be crucial to Ryanair’s position in a post-corona Europe, helping the low-cost carrier solidify its position in the market.

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