United and its 787 / Boeing

United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek has recently made some comments about the airline and its fleet with particular attention to the 787.

Smisek notes that the range, efficiency and passenger capacity opens up new point to point routes for the airline such as Denver to Japan.  These are the kinds of routes we can expect from US airlines who take on the aircraft and the 787-9 will be used to upgrade service on those routes originally developed with the 787-8.

Smisek also reiterates that United doesn’t see the A380 as an airplane for them (and I agree) and does acknowledge that the 747-8i is being looked at (but likely not very seriously) and notes that it has a lot of airliners on order.  I strongly suspect that United would rather purchase the 777-X rather than buy either the 747-8i or A380.  In addition, I think he sees a lot of aging 777 aircraft that would be better replaced with a 787-10 or 777-X as well.

But Boeing has slipped its authorization to offer plan for the 777-X to late 2013 or early 2014.  Most think that Boeing doesn’t need to offer the 777-X now and that waiting to see the final definition of the A350-1000 will help them.

I think that you can’t lead in an industry from behind.  Waiting too long for to see what your customer does leaves you playing catch up and if that customer delivers on its promise, it doesn’t matter what you can do to better the situation, people will buy what’s available.

If you think I’m wrong . . . just look at what Airbus pulled off with its A320NEO against Boeing who is still lagging behind and who has a “me too” offering at best.

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