I'm under the impression, the NMA might be quietly shrinking on the drawingboards.
Airlines are not stumbling over each other commiting to a 7 abreast 5000 Nm WB at NB cost levels
After market income works better with a larger amount of new aircraft
Airbus continues to dominate around 200 seats in every market and moves ahead with new variants
Not offering a big, quiet, geared fan container carrying NB might not be the bold market proposition the Boeing sales teams are looking for, moving forward from 2025.
The MAX backlog might prove rock solid during a next recession. Or not, unidentified customers, leasing companies and large legacy's prove flexible. They don't get "punished" by Airbus and Boeing when they change their plans. Investing when margin starts hurting, might be years too late, you are struggling for 5-7 years..
Aboulafia pegs Boeing's likelihood of launching the NMA at 60-65%, saying the company could alternatively redirect $8-10 billion in potential NMA funds to shareholders via stock buybacks or dividend payments.
But he believes Boeing unlikely to ignore the success Airbus has had selling A321neos, which that company now offers in a longer-range derivative marketed as a 757 replacement.
Airbus holds about 2,160 A321neo backorders, while Boeing holds just 450 orders for its competing 737 Max 10s, according to Flight Fleets Analyzer.
"If I were Boeing, I'd say, 'I've got to do something here,'" Aboulafia says.
If Boeing moves forward, Airbus may need to react, possibly with a re-engined, re-winged variant of the A321neo – an aircraft some have assigned the handle A322neo, Aboulafia notes.
The boys in Bordeaux probably prefer Boeing going for a real big, capable WB NMA, while they sit around the table with UA, JAL and KLM.