Sorry, because I don't live on these boards I missed the debate my post stirred. In re-reading my post, you make some good points.
Although I can't cite you chapter and verse, it's pretty well known (and I know a few people in the industry, and, yes, I know that sounds suspicious) that Airbus practically gave away some of the early A-32xs particularly to Northwest and United to gain a foothold in the market. Their deal with USAirways was a little less favorable when one considers the size of USs order. There is some business rationale for this in that no one really wanted to launch the A-320 (having an early one crash at the Paris Air Show didn't help) and they needed to make it very attractive (NW only acquires aircraft on the cheap, anyway, unless they have no other choice).
However, some Americans look at the fact that taxpayer money in Europe built Airbus, knowing pretty certainly (shall we call it 95%?) that these discounts were given and get a little angry at an uneven playing field.
Recently (the last five years), Boeing has begun to fight back on the same terms. Taking A-340s in trade for 777s is one way. The US governement has played along too (witness pressure put on Israel to get El Al to order the 777).
Strictly on the merits of the respective aircraft for the operators (purchase price aside), I've seen figures that clearly (though not by a huge margin) show that the 737NGs are cheaper to operate (no these figures are not on the internet so I can't link to them - sorry).
Now, we all know that purchase terms do matter to airlines as do politics, passenger appeal, etc. And the other factors can easily push the scale over to Airbus. For UA and NW, they both bought the A-32x at a time when there was no 737NG and now "in for a penny, in for a pound" so to speak.
The A-32x series are not bad aircraft at all, anyway. It's not like the difference we're talking about here is overwhelming. That's partly why the debate goes on. If you would have read more carefully, I said that the advantage wasn't that great. What I was responding to was the sort of statement that there was a clear difference in favor of Airbus. If there is a difference, it goes the other way, in my opinion. But, in any case, the difference (at least at this end of the market) isn't huge. If I ran an airline, I'd certainly listen to what sort of offer Airbus would make.
Dave in Berlin
Too many types flown to list