Actually, I hold the exact opposite viewpoint you do.
If we look at the sales of the A340NG vs. the 777LR, we notice that the A340-500 is beating the 777-200LR by a significant margin, while the A340-600/777-300ER battle is virtually a dead heat. However, one must first take into consideration that the A340NG has been offered for nearly 3 years longer than the 777LR. This immediately should add credence to the Boeing twin.
Next, let us also look at the specific orders. When we do, we find that, so far, both aircraft have captured 'expected' orders (i.e., orders from previous A340/777 operators, respectively):
Aerolineas Argentinas (4 A342) orders 6 A346.
Air Canada (8 A343) orders 2 A345 and 3 A346.
Iberia (18 A343) orders 8 A346.
Lufthansa (7 A342 and 28 A343) orders 10 A346.
Virgin Atlantic (7 A343) orders 10 A346.
China Eastern (5 A343) orders 5 A346.
Qatar Amiri (1 A342) orders 1 A345.
All Nippon (15 772, 4 772ER, 15 773) orders 6 773ER.
Japan Airlines (7 772, 11 772ER, 8 773) orders 8 773ER.
At first glance, this tells us that current operators are sticking with a particular airframe. However, it should be noted that Virign Atlantic, Qatar Amiri (and I've heard rumors of China Eastern) are using their newly ordered aircraft, not as expansion
, but to replace
their current fleet. This should immediately tell us that there is something wrong with the A340-300, as a 10 year old aircraft should not need replacement (a la MD
Now, we must look at those orders that we could consider 'decisive.' In other words, customers who have either both
A340 & 777, or neither
aircraft in their current fleet.
Singapore (17 A343, 772ER, 8 773) orders 5 A345.
Air France (14 + 4 A343, 18 772ER) orders 10 773ER.
EgyptAir (3 A342, 5 772ER) orders 2 A346.
Pakistan Int'l orders 3 772ER, 2 772LR, 3 773ER.
EVA Air orders 3 772LR and 4 773ER (+ 8 UFO 773ER).
South African orders 6 A343 and 6 A346.
Here we again see a virtual dead heat. Three customers have gone A340, while three have gone 777. One last note is that Singapore ordered the A345 before the decision to replace the A343 fleet, and before the specifications for the 777-200LR was finalized. At the time, the -200X was very much an under-performing airframe. Not so with the -200LR. There has been constant talk of SQ
going ahead with a -200LR order to replace the -500. It can only be speculated if this will actually occur or not.
Finally, we have Emirates, who is a 777 operator (an A330) and has ordered the A340-500, and is expected to sign a 777-300ER order at Paris. This airline is difficult to gauge, as they seem willing to buy just about anything that comes out. However, they are also one of the more performance-oriented airlines, which can be very telling.
Overall, I don't see the A340NG capturing too many more significant orders. I will discuss both Thai and Cathay at a later date, as they are both interesting cases. However, after we have looked at the current customer list, it should be apparent that those current A340 customers who are in a position to order the A340NG have done so, while most major 777 operators have yet to ante-up to the 777LR, mostly due to the later development schedule and current economic climate. When the time comes, 777LR orders should soar.
P.S. - Much more to say, but this is getting rather long.
Honor the warriors, not the war.