In a statement that perhaps inadvertently displays the convoluted logic and indecision that is plaguing Boeing's snails-pace approach to choosing a strategy for a 737 successor, Jim Albaugh, head of their Commercial Airplanes division, said
“If you’re holding your breath for the Paris Air Show, I’m not going to say we’re not going to make an announcement, but I’d be very surprised if we did".
This statement was apparently indicating a further delay in when Boeing will finally make an official announcement about a new plane to match Airbus' announcement on 1 December 2010 of its A320neo series of planes. Some professional tea-leaf readers had divined a possibility that Boeing would choose the Paris Air Show in June as a venue to excite the industry with an announcement as to what form their new plane would take, based on comments made at the beginning of March by Mike Bair, the man heading up the team studying 737 replacement alternatives.
With the new expectation being of an announcement late this year, it seems that there will be almost a year's delay between the long anticipated announcement by Airbus last December and a response by Boeing. One can only start to guess at the loss in sales Boeing is suffering from its delays.
But let's do some guessing. One interesting metric is to compare 2010 orders for 737s with orders so far this year.
In 2010 Boeing sold 508 new 737s. In 2011, through 17 May, it has sold 63. Now for the comparison – if we take the 508 orders from last year and assume (ouch) they were sold evenly through the year, then by 17 May last year Boeing would have rung up orders for 191 planes.
In other words, this year sees Boeing – so far – having sold 128 fewer 737s. They are selling 28.5 fewer 737s every month. Maybe this is due to the diminished appeal of the 737 in the face of the new Airbus A320neo, although of course maybe other factors apply as well.
For the fun of round figures, it seems acceptably close to say that each day of delay could be costing Boeing as much as the sale of one 737. With each 737 selling for about $40 million – $60 million, that also suggests another interesting round figure. Each day of delay could potentially be costing Boeing $50 million (assuming the depressed 737 sales so far this year are largely attributable to the A320neo).
To put Boeing's net 63 737s into context, Airbus has sold a net 81 new A320 series planes so far this year. Last year Airbus sold 416 A320 series planes.
So however you analyze the numbers and the reasons for them, the fact is that last year, Boeing significantly outsold Airbus in the 737/A320 competition, and so far this year, Airbus is now significantly outselling Boeing.