This is a summary of the opinion-article written by Richard Aboulafia in Forbes Magazine the day of the Emirates´ announcement of A350 order cancellation, “the worst cancellation ever suffered by Airbus”.
A350 XWB Program.
Obviously, the first step is to point out that the A350 remains a very healthy program, with a very large order book and superb technical execution.
It’s also worthwhile remembering that Emirates, despite its fantastic growth rates, really couldn’t absorb all these planes. Being the biggest A380 customer, the biggest 777 customer, the biggest 777X customer, and one of the biggest A350 XWB customers is asking too much of one airline, no matter how fast they’re expanding. Something had to give.
Airbus has a problem.
The second and much bigger step for Airbus is to admit they have a problem. Boeing has two families (787 and 777/777X) covering the 240-407 seat waterfront; Airbus has been trying to cover as much of this waterfront as possible with the A350XWB family. That’s a flawed strategy.
Decisions with big impact.
This second step requires two decisions, which will have a big impact. The first is to stop pretending the A350-800 has any kind of future. Kill it, and replace it with the A330neo. That will cover the 250-300-seat segment. To put it another way, without an A330neo, Airbus will effectively abandon this segment.
Clean sheet-of-paper large twinjet.
“Today was bad for Airbus, yet not catastrophic. But failure to take action in this segment of the market could set Airbus up for future disasters that add up to catastrophe.”