How Can Boeing Reclaim Leadership In The Narrowbody Market?

Credit: Boeing

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How can Boeing reclaim leadership in the narrowbody market with the 737 MAX issues and the growth in share of the Airbus A320neo?

Aviation Week’s Executive Editor, Commercial, Jens Flottau responds:  

Boeing’s market share in terms of deliveries is currently zero because of the 737 MAX grounding. That will increase once the aircraft has been recertified and deliveries resume. Nevertheless, Airbus appears to have a long-term market share advantage—as the A320neo order backlog stands at 7,445 compared with just 4,610 for the MAX.

But even when the MAX returns to service, Airbus’ advantage could continue to increase given that demand has been shifting to the larger variants of the narrowbody families, with which Airbus has enjoyed strong market success (A321neo, A321LR and A321XLR). Conversely, Boeing hopes that as a result of the coronavirus pandemic airlines will focus in the near term on smaller narrowbodies, where the 737-8 has fared well against the A320neo.

Some analysts have contended that Boeing needs to launch a new narrowbody sooner rather than later-—yet they also agree that the company cannot really afford to do so in the middle of the COVID-19 downturn. There are also questions about how quickly advanced technologies, particularly engines, that Boeing would need to move the needle will be ready. And now Boeing has to take into account new European plans to develop a hydrogen-powered aircraft for short- and medium-haul routes in the early to mid-2030s that may change the competitive landscape yet again.

Jens Flottau

Based in Frankfurt, Germany, Jens is executive editor and leads Aviation Week Network’s global team of journalists covering commercial aviation.


Mr Flottau, do you think the epidemic will pause the move to larger narrow-bodies like Boeing hopes or will this just be a blip on the steady march to higher capacity single aisles? Thanks!
Short term competitive modification of the MAX will be a 747-like rewinging for range and better rotation.

Then Boeing to go for its replacement in the early 2030s.

Rene Abad
AirPino PH
Rewinging sounds good, provided Boeings board back the Engineers over the accountants when they lengthen the Main Gear wheelwells by 24 or so inches; to accommodate the new longer oleos!
By stopping making excuses and designing a brand-new single-aisle jet. Boeing is currently pulling on a dead horse trying to get the MAX into the air again.