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How do airlines decide which manufacturer to buy from

Mon Feb 01, 2021 10:30 pm

Especially for the A vs B. The most obvious are the running costs of fuel and maintenance, but equivalent types of Airbus and Boeing seem to be pretty close to each other in that, with no side coming as obvious superior(in which case every airline would pick that) Why does the RyanAir have an all 737 fleet meanwhile EasyJet has an all A320 fleet? To me it seems that it mostly depends on being able to get a decent bulk deal from the manufacturer more than anything, so initial buying costs Manufacturers have different levels of busyness in their factories, different sales goals and different amount of available finances at different years and times of the year, therefore being able to offer airlines different deals and different times.

So, cheaper during the initial buy, and fast delivery, seem like the main reasons when choosing a manufacturer more than the fuel and maintenance costs which seem to be too similar in aircraft belonging to same generation. Of course there are other factors like risk management(like if one type gets grounded like the MAX, you can rely on your other one), already having trained flight and maintenance crew on the said type so you buy more of the same type or it's new generation, supporting domestic industry(probably contributed to Air France operating every model of Airbus that was ever made, except those larger engined A340s maybe), but my point still stands, these seem like secondary reasons after the main reason which is securing a good deal of price and delivery date.

Or am I completely wrong?
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Re: How do airlines decide which manufacturer to buy from

Mon Feb 01, 2021 11:49 pm

Only thing I can think of for the 737 is it sits low enough to the ground that you don't really need belt loaders to get to the cargo door, and the forward door has built-in airstairs as an option. EasyJet actually used to operate the 737s, but switched over to the A320 at some point.
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Re: How do airlines decide which manufacturer to buy from

Tue Feb 02, 2021 7:52 am

Ever tried to load a 737 without a belt? I don't recommend it.

I've never been involved in those types of decisions at any airline I've worked for. However I've gotten to know a few of the people that do. The general answer I've gotten is that there are simply too many little reasons why it's one vs the other. Financing, delivery slots, follow up maintenance offers, discounts on current or future order, political involvement, etc etc etc. The list quite literally goes on and on

In the end its usually whoever can offer the most for the least. The deals also seemed more transparent than I thought. IE A would pretty much already know what B would offer, even before the reps met them.

Honestly, seemed like an interesting department to be in. They were constantly getting wined and dined, even by companies with which the airline had absolutely no involvement.
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Re: How do airlines decide which manufacturer to buy from

Tue Feb 02, 2021 11:22 am

FGITD wrote:
The general answer I've gotten is that there are simply too many little reasons why it's one vs the other.

Agreed. There is a myriad of reasons, all between performance so far, performance expected, MX cost, human cost, financial model and availability, model availability, even subjective (like what was the perception of company/clients, or attitude of CEO this very morning). No simple answer.

One thing does however become a factor I want to mention. Availability. In the Covid times, the tables turned, it's now different world, but let me get back to 2019 frame.
A had superior product to the B product. It was outselling 60:40 in that particular family. It would do much better probably, if it wasn't for backlog. Airplane bought back in 2019 was expected to be delivered past 2025 timeframe. Since you assume lower costs on new frame to offset for price you paid, and equipment you replaced, every year was easily calculated as "we pay more than we would". If you had a better relations at one manufacturer, the time difference itself could be worth more than any other cost difference.

In, we like to discuss differences to every single percent, and say "this is the best plane". Well, as long as you have an option to take other one earlier, it could be better, even if not the best.


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