Feels to me like the main thing that has caused the A320NEO to stumble is the concerns over the P+W GTF and the impact on the NEO ramp up.
The CFM / PW split is almost dead-on 50/50, but I kind of believe a customer who wanted the A320neo could get one with CFM (even if not their desired choice) as quickly as they could a MAX.
This is not intended as fanboyism, but I personally see the "normal split" (i.e. about 55/56-44/45) being restored once P+W and Airbus finally get the engine issues properly sorted.
Airbus has traditionally maintained a higher production rate on the A320 than Boeing on the 737 which would also favor availability and I would not be surprised if that helped Airbus take a larger share of the total market. By 2019 the production rate between them will be effectively the same (60 for neo / 57 for MAX) so Airbus will no longer have an availability advantage and that might shrink the difference closer to 50/50.
Your comment by the way lends weight to the notion of Airbus stepping in with the A320NEO double plus on the blind-side. As you say, first mover availability will secure a lot of early customers if the demand for such a plane is really there.
Well such a change will be rather significant - new wing, new engines, perhaps new undercarriage - so EIS, while sooner than 2027, will probably be closer to the mid-2020s than earlier. Airbus would also either need to increase the production rate or look to A320/A321 customers doing a "swap up" as 737-8 and 737-9 customers did to the 737-10.
And yet nobody bought the 783, they are using A330s for the tasks you describe despite its longer legs.
Yes, because the 787-3 was worse than the 787-8 on those missions so you might as well use the -8 for the flexibility. So that is what ANA, JAL, Scott, JetStar and others are doing. As are A330-200 operators.
The bulk of 757 sales came the USA.
Who bought them as higher-capacity 727-200 replacements for domestic use. They only started putting them on TATL because they had better options domestically (A320/737NG) and the LCCs (at the time) could not follow them across The Pond.
A large number of 767s as well, plus Japan, UK and some EU airlines precisely because the ER could do 5000nm.
The only twin at the time that could do 5000nm was the A310 family and the 767 family is appreciably larger so it offered better CASM. And for the US majors who had the 757, the common rating and certain systems with the 767 reduced TCO compared to operating the 757 and A310.
You can't always trust the market to tell you what it wants.
True, but when the market is ready to put money down, you would be unwise to ignore them. So if the US3 and EU LCCs are willing to order appreciably more frames up front than the Asians and Indians, we might very well see the 5000nm model become the baseline rather than the 3500nm one.
(new 767s as) fodder for freighter conversions or really for PAX use?
Probably depends on the customer and how NMA shakes out, capability-wise. Assuming it is the US3 who want this (UA specifically, but AA could use them, too) they appear to want a TATL-capable plane. If NMA becomes that, then I see them being moved off to the freighter market (5X is taking conversions now so I don't see why FX would not, too, plus Amazon Prime Air will be a major player). If NMA does not become that, then I expect UA(/AA) to fly them for decades.