The fallout from the crash of a Boeing 737 Max last week has left the US planemaker’s reputation in tatters, a fact that one would expect to benefit its closest competitor.
But for Europe’s Airbus, there will likely be no significant short-term sales boost, despite the fact that delivery of the Max has been halted amid an ongoing investigation.
Production of the fuel-efficient A320Neo – the closest alternative to the Max – is already running at full capacity, with a backlog of 5,814 orders, according to a Financial Times report on Monday.
A Reuters report said that the Airbus is straining to meet 3,600 orders for the Neo, cranking out 50 per month, a rate that would mean 6 years before the last unit is delivered.
Whatever problem the investigation currently underway determines was responsible for the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday will, it is widely speculated, be resolved relatively soon. That is in comparison to the years it would take Airbus to significantly increase its production.
No doubt, if there is a critical flaw discovered in the Max that requires more than a software upgrade and additional pilot training, then airlines will be more likely to wait in line for the European alternative.
If that is not the case, giving up their deposits on the Boeing jets already ordered, along with a years-long wait, might not be worth the trouble.