yes of course thrust matters. but only as a factor to fullfill certain safety limits and to get to whatever is economic.
what exactly is economic for an airline depends on a zillion trillion variables as you also stated and therefore alot of airlines start co using 340 and 777 for example. i am pretty sure we both mean the same thing anyway.
all i wanted to state in the thread is that more thrust doesnt equal the "better" "faster" "whatever" plane, like car ads always imply. and somehow some people also apply that idea to planes, which is really more a thing for the mil av, where speed and such matters more then economical performance.
and since thrust plays a far bigger role in flying performance then in the economical performance of a plane, where its only one of many many factors, i felt i had to chip in that "POWER" isnt what todays airliners are about.
good example is boeings sonic cruiser flop, since more speed didnt mean more overall performance economically (in the opinion of airlines) despite the time savings. etc...