This is a good question. Airbus, rightly or wrongly, is perceived to have a long history of difficulty with its widebody program. The perception of those we talk to is that Airbus can’t get its widebody designs “right” the first time.
Airbus is already two-three years behind Boeing’s 787 with its A350. A further redesign could well delay Airbus another year or more. But is this fatal?
Not necessarily. The A320 entered service 20 years after the 737 and today outsells the aging Boeing product by almost 2:1. The A330 followed the 767 by about 10 years and the A330 beat the 767 hands down.
So the history is there; Airbus could be delayed but conceivably wind up with a better product than the 787 by coming up with a better design. Adding just nine inches to the fuselage width, for example, would allow the A350 to have wider coach seats than the 787 in nine abreast while preventing the airlines from going to 10 abreast—thus replicating the improved passenger comfort vis-à-vis the A320 compared with the 737.
If ILFC’s Hazy is right—and he usually is—Airbus may be better off biting the bullet and widening the fuselage. Better to get the plane “right” the first time than not.