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FINANCE & LEASING
THE DEBATE BETWEEN TWO TEAMS — one promoting Airbus’s
A320neo family and another Boeing’s 737 MAX series -- got racier
than usual for an aviation finance conference. At the Euromoney
Asia-Pacific Airfinance Conference in late 2016, two teams sparred
over whether the Airbus NEO family or Boeing’s MAX family was the
preferred, most versatile option for narrowbody, single-aisle jets in
the Asia-Pacific region. Both boast greater fuel efficiency, reduced
engine noise and lower admissions.
Airbus began development in 2010 for the A320neo, which stands
for “new engine option”. It began service with Lufthansa in January
2016. According to Airbus, they had more than 4,800 firm orders
as of October. Meanwhile, the Boeing 737 MAX line is still under
development, with a first delivery promised in May 2017 to
Norwegian Air Shuttle.
At least in terms of creativity in conference presentations, Air-
bus won hands down. “It’s about love, passion — not just metal
and machinery,” Jean–Pierre Stainnack, senior vice president
sales for Airbus in Japan, told the audience, comparing the Eu-
ropean manufacturer ’s relationship to the Asia-Pacific region as
a “marriage made in heaven”. In this romance, the heroine was
the Asian region, depicted by a photo of Chinese actress Zhang
Ziyi. The hero pursuing her was Airbus, depicted by “Neo”, the
Keanu Reeves character in The Matrix films.
Clearly, the courtship worked, as Stainnack’s colourful pres-
entation moved on to a wedding banquet between Asia and
Airbus (or Zhang and Neo). There was roast duck from Tianjin,
China; scallops from Mobile, Alabama; and red wine from Tou-
louse, France — representing three Airbus production hubs.
Stainnack wasn’t done with his elaborate metaphor, though.
Just as one wants a comfortable seat at a wedding banquet, the
NEO offered the wider seats, he said. (According to the Airbus
website, the NEO retains its 18-inch seats in economy). And just
as one should have some French red wine — but not too much
— Stainnack claimed that the NEO saved on fuel consumption.
Airbus promises a “per-seat fuel burn saving of 20 percent
compared to current engine option (CEO) jetliners by 2020.”
The American team was less romantic. Robert Roy Jr, vice
president — Transportation, Export-Import Bank of the United
States, spoke for the Boeing MAX side. “In America, we have a
saying — love stinks,” he told his French counterparts. “If you
buy an airplane for love, it’ll break your heart.”
“Last year they showed a picture of Jennifer Aniston,” sighed
Randy Tinseth, vice president for marketing, Boeing Commercial
Airplanes. “By the way, Mad Max always wins,” he added, choosing
his own Mel Gibson movie hero to represent their line.
Tinseth got down to business, saying that the MAX line had a
“lighter engine, one that was a bit more efficient...Planes that fly
longer have better efficiency,” he added. “ The MAX will fly further
than the NEO, which means great optimisation.”
“Let me ask the ladies,” Stainnack of Airbus said. “Do you want the
smooth, suave Neo or the dirty, hairy Max ? And gentlemen, do you
want a fighting machine, or a Max who doesn’t shave very often?”
A slide showed on the screen with the question: “Which family is
more versatile for Asia-Pacific fleets?”
The audience, at a packed conference room at the Conrad Ho-
tel Hong Kong, bent over their phones to take part in the instant
online poll. Boeing’s MAX won by a margin of 60 percent to 40
percent — show that, at least at aviation conferences, mechanics
win over emotions.
Tinseth was a gracious winner. “ There are two great products on
the market,” he said, adding that, “But I do like a young Mel Gibson.”
Battling it out
Airfinance Journal hosted a conference in Hong
Kong in late 2016 where Boeing and Airbus
fought it out over which planes were better for
Asia. A AV contributor Joyce Lau was there.
19/01/2017 3:03:40 PM
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