January 16, 2008


Boeing has been under a lot of fire recently for pushing back delivery dates of the Dreamliner to its first batch of clients. This is a rather unfortunate (though expected) turn of events from a company that has both a long reputation of delivering on schedule and greatly benefited from the bad press thrown at the Airbus A380’s delays. I have always been a strong Boeing supporter, probably because I admire their daring. Looking back at their history, they have been faced with near bankruptcies (so analysts have said), design challenges, etc. which they have always managed to come out of, better and stronger than before. Their move in developing the Dreamliner, a fuel efficient and short haul carrier, when the market seemed to be leaning towards large, passenger heavy airplanes, was as dramatic a shift as their move in the seventies to introduce the 747. This company is willing to take big risks. It’s in their culture, something that I do not see as readily in Airbus.

The Airbus A380 has taken flight and is currently in the process of delivery. However, they are operating in a market that has shifted. Fuel prices are up, EU (where most of the A380 parts are made) labor and manufacturing costs have skyrocketed and the Airline companies who would be in the market for an A380 are facing heavy competition from their low cost rivals. Boeing on the other hand has developed a jet with 20% more fuel savings a 10% improvement in operating economics, a design that works with the majority of airports in the world (The A380 needs a longer and reinforced runway, as well as different loading bridges) and is basically made of “plastic.” Best of all, the Dreamliner parts are outsourced to cheaper manufacturing markets. With the A350 still years away, Boeing’s Dreamliner can expect to corner the market for a good amount of time… so long as they can deliver.

You can tell I’m looking forward to trying out the Dreamliner. Its first delivery will be to All Nippon Airways, but I am sure it will be a popular choice for all the low cost carriers in Asia that I enjoy flying. It does not have the panache of those personal, First Class flying cabins being touted by Singapore Airlines and Emirates on their A380’s. However, for a frequent flyer like myself, if this Dreamliner can make my short haul flights a little more comfortable, a little more reasonable, then it’s a winner in my eyes!

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