New Product Development Re-shaping Large Jetliner Market

By Raymond Jaworowski, Forecast International

On the eve of the 2014 Farnborough Air Show, Forecast International notes that Airbus and Boeing are playing point-counterpoint on a colossal scale in terms of new product development.  Currently in development, the Airbus A320neo and the Boeing 737 MAX, with respective orders numbering in the hundreds, are re-engined versions of the two companies’ current and very popular narrowbody airliner families.

In the market’s widebody segment, Airbus and Boeing have engaged in a series of moves and countermoves.  The Boeing 787’s introduction led to Airbus responding with the A350 which, in turn, has led to Boeing launching the new 777X series.  The advent of these new aircraft is transforming the large airliner market.

In its new study “The Market for Large Commercial Jet Transports,” Forecast International projects that a total of 15,716 large commercial airliners will be produced from 2014 through 2023.  The Connecticut-based market research firm estimates the value of this production at $2.38 trillion in constant 2014 U.S. dollars.

During the 10-year forecast period, the A320neo, 737 MAX, 787, A350 and 777X will account for nearly 65 percent of new production. The A320neo and 737 MAX alone will account for some 43 percent of unit production during that time.

Forecast International predicts that annual production of large airliners will rise each year from 2014 through 2020, with production increasing from 1,379 aircraft in 2014 to 1,730 in 2020.  The company expects output to decline somewhat during a minor, economically driven cyclical downturn in the 2021-2022 period before it resumes an upward track in 2023.

According to the Forecast International projections, Airbus and Boeing will account for more than 95 percent of the large airliners that are forecast to be produced during the 2014-2023 timeframe.  This level of dominance indicates that the market will essentially remain a duopoly during this period.  However, the Airbus/Boeing rivalry is unusually competitive for a duopoly, with both companies spending substantial resources on new product development.  Simultaneously, they severely discount prices on existing products in order to accumulate sales.

Forecast International senior aerospace analyst Raymond Jaworowski said, “The fiercely competitive nature of the Airbus/Boeing rivalry arises from the relatively limited size of the customer base, efforts by the two manufacturers to increase profit margins, and the desire of both companies to continually increase aircraft production rates.”

Airbus and Boeing continually raise production rates in order to improve production efficiencies, reduce wait times for customers, and stave off new competitors in the marketplace.  These new competitors are appearing in the narrowbody segment of the large jetliner market, and include such aircraft as the Bombardier CS300, the COMAC C919, and the Irkut MC-21. However, their introduction will have little impact on Airbus’ and Boeing’s overall market share through the 2014-2023 forecast period.

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