What does Airbus’ billion pound deal with China mean for Boeing?

Airbus has secured an order from Chinese airlines for 300 jets in a deal worth billions of pounds. But what does an increasing presence in the Chinese market mean for US rival Boeing?

An agreement to purchase 290 single-aisle A320s has been confirmed - image courtesy of Airbus.
An agreement to purchase 290 single-aisle A320s has been confirmed – image courtesy of Airbus.

An agreement to purchase 290 single-aisle A320s and 10 larger A350 XWB aircraft was signed during a visit to Paris by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

This is a huge win for for the aerospace giant who just last month scrapped its A380 modelciting a “lack of airline demand” as the reason for the decision.

Seating from 100-240 passengers and flying throughout the world, an A320 takes off or lands every 1.6 seconds, according to Airbus.

Boeing crashes prove costly

The deal could put US rival Boeing under pressure as this order follows two fatal crashes involving its 737 Max 8 jets in five months that killed almost 350 people.

The second crash, which happened earlier this month and was a jet operated by Ethiopian Airlines, triggered governments and airlines across the world to suspend the use of the planes, or ban them from entering their airspace.

The accidents have raised questions over Boeing’s insistence that the Max 737 was (and is) safe to fly. The crashes could prove detrimental to customers’ confidence in Boeing aircraft and rising markets like the Chinese could certainly be discouraged from purchasing its other models.

The Chinese market takes off

According to Airbus’ latest China Market Forecast 2018 to 2037, China and the Asia-Pacific region will represent a significant proportion of the world’s total demand for aircraft deliveries over the next two decades. The order which is thought to be worth tens of billions of pounds could mean that Airbus is pulling ahead of its rival in the fast-growing Chinese market.

UK suppliers in the aerospace industry play a big part in Airbus’ success - image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Fuel efficiency and sustainability 

With more than 14,600 A320 family (A318, A319, A320 and A321) aircraft ordered and over 8,600 delivered, the A320 is the world’s most successful single-aisle aircraft family. Of these, the A320neo is the world’s best-selling with over 6,500 orders from over 100 customers since its launch in 2010.

The A320neo model has incorporated advanced technologies, including its new generation engines that deliver 20% in fuel cost savings. It also offers environmental benefits with nearly a 50% reduction in noise footprint compared to previous generation aircraft.

Similarly, the A350 XWB features carbon fibre fuselage and wings, and fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce engines. This results in operational efficiency, with a 25% reduction in fuel burn and emissions.

As governments scramble to align to the international Paris agreement in order to curb climate change, sustainability is becoming a crucially significant element to consider when launching and designing aircraft. This could have been a key reason why the Airbus A380, the world’s first double-deck passenger jet, was scrapped.

With fuel prices rising and environmentalists questioning the impact of aircraft, airlines are favouring smaller but more efficient planes. Both firms need to continue to align to the changing demand of the aerospace sector, and optimise growing markets like the Chinese that could prove key in the future.