B737MAX vs. A320neo: Backlog Comparison

Boeing and TUI Travel today announced a commitment for 60 B737MAX (-8 and -9 versions) with an option for a further 90 aircraft. Boeing now has 1471 firm orders and commitments for the B737MAX. Airbus has, including the to-be-firmed order from Air China and Shenzen Airlines for a
combined 60 A320neo (and 40 A320ceo) 2273 firm orders and commitments for the A320neo family (see order lists for both aircraft here or at pdxlight). What looks like a comfortable lead for Airbus looks a little bit different when the 2 year lead in production for the A320neo is considered. Two years of production at 42 aircraft per month means that Airbus will have produced roughly 1000 of the reengined aircraft more once both production lines at Airbus and Boeing are producing the A320neo and B737MAX at full capacity. In the case of Airbus, the new production line in Mobile could add extra capacity for 4 aircraft a month in the final assembly, although it is not clear if all suppliers could produce the parts to build these extra 4 aircraft. But Boeing is also looking at producing more than 42 B737 a month, although production at Boeing will only hit that target next year. So with a difference in orders and commitments of 802 aircraft right now, the backlog at Airbus would be burned down earlier than at Boeing. That means in turn that Airbus has - theoretically - an "earlier availability" advantage - although having significantly more orders.
We will see how that picture maybe changes after the Paris Air Show, where traditionally Airbus announces the majority of orders. The maybe most awaited order might not be ready for the Paris Air Show though, as easyjet already said that the order would come in the second half of the year.
There are more fleet decisions looming. Jet Airways has maybe already placed an order for 50 B737MAX (or maybe not but will place an order). Reports from CAPA that they will also order 50 A320neo for JetKonnect were (somehow) disputed.
Flydubai is also in the hunt for new narrowbody aircraft but common sense is that they will announce their order at the Dubai Airshow in November. As discussions for all these (possible) orders began months or in some cases years ago, delivery slots should not play a big role here, but if an airline is starting discussions now, early availability could play a role. Airbus might have an edge here for the reengined mode. On the other side, Boeing should have an edge if the airline wants an aircraft in 2014 or 2015. B737NG's should be still available in pretty good numbers (at 2005 prices if you negotiate long and hard enough...).

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