Having read numerous posts inducing somewhat bitter disputes as to the choice of aircraft ordered (or lack of) by various airlines, one thought to remind others of the significant role of politics and perception in such matters.
Although the economic notion of maximising profitability and efficiency appears to prevail as sacrosanct in the choice of aircraft, political motives often override or are 'made to complement' any given set of circumstances.
With the British Airways example, despite my immense love of both the Next-Generation 737 and A320 family of aircraft, it is seemingly the case that BA would not have opted for Airbus narrow body jets without political pressure for the need to show 'European support'. After all, how could the acclaimed 'flag carrier' of a prominent European Union member be seen without Europe's prime export product in its fleet (as purchased)?
The fact that hefty discounts (arguably at very little profit if any at all) were offered reinforces the symbolic nature of the order. Moreover, the decision to remain loyal to Boeing for long-haul keeps America happy and thus Britain apparently 'forms the bridge across the Atlantic'. Whether this is perceived to be the case by either the Americans or other Europeans (especially the French and Germans) is rather more obscure.
Numerous illogical fleet compositions or temperamental supplier decisions can also be attributed to the affect of politics. Korea’s initial favouring of the 777 and the subsequent purchase of A330’s; China’s constant sway between the big two according to the latest statesperson visiting to put their lobbying powers to work and the rather predictable imports of both Airbus and Boeing in the Middle East showing gratitude for oil as well as international support, may highlight political involvement.
To conclude, one is not making any sweeping statements to the effect that all aircraft purchasing decisions are political or that any combined fleet has resulted from such exogenous factors. One is simply pointing out that the answer to many such queries seeking justification for choice of aircraft fleet, are hindered by the lack of information and apparent over bias of contributory parties to either Airbus or Boeing. While passions regarding the latter are perfectly understandable, they lack logic as a basis for reasoning and help neglect factors such as politics during such discussions.