AC orders Boeing 777/787 & significance

Apr 25th, 2005, 10:57 PM
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AC orders Boeing 777/787 & significance

While I have flown AC occassionally, I don't follow their moves too closely. This was a quite a shocker that they placed a large order of 777 and 787s, and will gradually replace their Airbus longhaul fleet.

[Do a google search if you want to read the news release and reports. I won't repeat them here.]

So, I did some more reading and thinking, and came to a conclusion that it's quite a significant event worth starting a thread about.

- AC is one of just three current operators of the A340-500 in the world. They bought 2 planes specifically for the YYZ-HKG route, but delayed delivery for a year because of SARS in 2003. But less than a year operating them, they're indicating they will be replaced.

What's interesting is that the whole world has been saying how unhappy SQ is with its own 345, except SQ itself. Emirates haven't said anything, but AC finally spoke with action. Interesting to see where these 2 planes will end up, and it appears the 345 program is in deep trouble. [I believe only 22 planes have been built or ordered.]

- On the other hand, it's a boost for the rival 777-200LR. That is another troubled program, but surprisingly Air Canada really have quite a few significant ultra-longhaul markets that can use this plane. Besides YYZ-HKG, they can use them on various non-stops YYZ-India. [Large Chinese and Indian population in Toronto.] And YVR-Australia non-stop, both directions.

- While Airbus have captured a large share of the market for narrowbody planes with its 320 series (318-321) in North America, its longhaul fleet is retreating. No order for the 380 yet from passenger carriers here, and with AC replacing its 340, there actually won't be a major carrier in N. America with the A340! [On the other hand, BA, AF, KLM, AZ are all significant operators of the 777s.]

- With its financial situation stablized, I think AC will be quite an important player in the N. American longhaul market. It will have more flights to China and elsewhere in Asia. And because of the stupid US transit situation, AC will definitely capture a huge share of the S. America - Asia market.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 26th, 2005, 04:01 AM
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Do you know why? Northwest is replacing their DC-10's with Airbus A330's. U.S. Air is doing some of that, too. Maybe they need to talk to Air Canada.

Also, why is Emirates buying so many A380's?

I'm on the LHR to Perth flight in December and I'm looking forward to a one-hour stop in Singapor to stretch my legs. I'd rather have a 21 hour flight with a one hour stop than a 20 hour non-stop flight, personally.
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Apr 26th, 2005, 04:24 AM
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The A330s seem to be quite popular with their operators, it's the A340s that seem to be causing all the anguish. Northwest opted for the A330 transatlantic, but supposedly is about to announce an order for 18 787s for ultra long hauls (such as Detroit-Shanghai or Detroit-Beijing.)
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Apr 26th, 2005, 04:27 AM
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And rkkwan, I agree with you completely - the U.S. transit situation is beyond stupid. I know airlines have been whining a lot lately, but some of the things the government is doing really isn't helping them at all.
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Apr 26th, 2005, 04:46 AM
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That's correct. All reports are suggesting NW will order 18 787s. That's from an airline that still hasn't completed taking its delivery of A330s. One has to wonder why they're not ordering the A350, the updated 330.

As for USAirways, do we really care? They have a limited European network and just 9 A330s; it's reducing fleet size, not expanding.
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Apr 26th, 2005, 04:50 AM
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For my 2 cents... I think the Airbus planes are very uncomfortable and cramped! The only reason I will fly on one is if I can get a nonstop to my destination versus a two segment flight. It's just too uncomfortable!! I'll take a 747 or 777 for the long haul anyday.
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Apr 26th, 2005, 06:01 AM
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I'm with simpsonsc510 - hate the ABs... ugly, cramped, rough edges, tinny. Give me a 747 or 777 any day. Even a DC10.
 
Apr 26th, 2005, 07:11 AM
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rkkwan, there's an interesting discussion going on about this on the AC forum at FlyerTalk. Most participants are dancing with glee, indicating that the decision is extremely popular with those of us who fly AC a lot. There is, however, a post on that thread from a former AC employee who casts the decision as a blend of tactical (AC gets much needed long-haul capacity as early as next year) and strategic positioning, in the sense that it does not necessarily mean AC is turning its back completely on Airbus wide-bodies.

There has also been a lot of discussion over there about AC's A345s. There are some that say that there are reliability problems, citing the frequent delays on YYZ-HKG and YYZ-DEL, while others point out that the problem is that AC have only two and that they are trying to maintain a very high utilization for them with only shorter-range 343s as back-up. (I recently experienced this myself coming out of HKG in February. The 345 from Toronto was scrubbed and replaced with a 343 that had to stop in YVR on the west-bound leg. It meant a five-hour delay out of HKG.)

As a Canadian traveller, I have no particular preference between Airbus or Boeing. I am interested in safety, reliability, and comfort (in that order) and I want to fly on a financially healthy airline. I do see the decision as a confirmation that AC has successfully emerged from backruptcy protection and that it is agressively pursuing every possible market opportunity. As you said in your post, there is a huge demand for flights between Canada and Asia, including the Indian sub-continent, and Australia. And yes, if the possibility of flying from Europe or Asia to South America via Canada is attractive to some customers, AC will pursue that, too.

Anselm
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Apr 26th, 2005, 07:20 AM
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I really don't understand why some people hate Airbuses as passengers. Their cabins, in a 2-4-2 configuration is fine in coach. Definitely more comfortable than a 747 with 3-4-3 seating when fully packed.

The 777 has a bigger cabin, but remember they are at least 9-abreast, sometimes 10. Real advantage of the 777 is the slightly wider aisle unless the airline put 10 seats across. And to me, the 340 is marginally quieter than the 777, and both significantly quieter than a 747 (even a new one) and DC-10s.

And keep in mind that it's up to the airline how they want to furnish the interior. For example, if you're in business class, 6-abreast on a 777 will be more comfortable than 6-abreast on a 330/340, which will be more comfortable than 7-abreast on a 777.

Personally, two of my most unpleasant flights ever are on an ancient NW DC-10 (stuck in the middle of a 5-abreast seating, with not enough ventilation), and on a Virgin Atlantic 747-200 that's almost as old, with 30" pitch or less.

Now, the 340s (especially the older -300 version) do have inferior flight performance to most 777s. They climb more slowly on heavily-loaded longhauls, so you are more suspectible to turbulence below cruising altitude; and they are slower than the 777. [747 is faster still.] So, on a longhaul like New York - Hong Kong, you'll spend less time in the air on a CO 777 than a CX 340.
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Apr 26th, 2005, 07:51 AM
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What airlines are configuring the 777 ten across in coach? I did notice the isle was very narrow on the A340-600. Had to walk sideways.
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Apr 26th, 2005, 08:09 AM
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wally - I know of at least 3 airlines that have 10-abreast in their 777:

China Southern - beware, DL flyers who're considering their ultra-long LAX-CAN non-stop. But they are also refurbishing their planes to have a premium economy with 8 abreast. [China Southern is one of the earliest 777 operator.]

Emirates - This may be surprising for some as EK is trying hard to make themselves a premium carrier with very lavish 1st and business class. But EK also carry a lot of migrant workers from South and SE Asia to the Gulf region. These planes also have good 33" pitch, but narrow seats.

ANA - Domestic Japanese routes only. International ones are 9-abreast.

But what amazes me most is that Canada 3000 have 9-abreast seating on some of their Airbuses. That's absolutely incredible.

Or 10-abreast seating on the Lockeed 1011 on Cathay Pacific and Gulf Air.
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Apr 26th, 2005, 09:02 AM
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rkkwan, Canada 3000 doesn't operate any more. You may be thinking of Air Transat, which has 9 abreast seating on their A310s (the ones that still have rudders, that is) and A332s.

Anselm
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Apr 26th, 2005, 09:15 AM
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Another big order of Boeing 777/787 was just announced, from Air India. 8 of them will be the ultra-longhaul 777-200LR.

Along with the AC order, it seems like this plane has finally found its market in N. America to India.

It took Continental and AC to wake Air India up, but up it has.

---

AnselmAdome - Yes, I've been reading a lot on flyertalk.com on the matter. I've flown them to HKG a couple of years ago, and really wasn't impressed. Particularly, that padded cushion above the tray really screamed "Dude, if you weren't so cheap, you could be enjoying 20 channels of video program on CX!"

Basically, it was providing a NW/UA type of service; and really can't compete with CX or JL on the Hong Kong and Japan routes for premium passengers.

There were also a couple of other operation-related problems I have with AC that my experience with them is "below average". Hopefully, they can turn it around.

Oh, and thanks for pointing out it's ATA with the 9-abreast Airbus seating. You can see I'm not the most knowledgeable when it comes to Canada's airlines.

---

Now, I think the pressure is on for Cathay Pacific to get new longhaul planes. When AC can get a reliable non-stop YYZ-HKG service, how can CX compete? Or their false LAX-HKG "non-stop"? And how about HKG-ORD?

Once a pioneering of longhauls, it now lack behind CO, UA, AC, not to mention SQ. You wonder what they're doing with all their profits...
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Apr 26th, 2005, 10:14 AM
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I liked your comment, rkkwan, about the 747's going faster than the Airbus and 777's. I was flying Qantas from Sydney to LAX and the speed of the aircraft was 680. I've never seen any other plane go that fast. I mentioned this to a pilot at AA and he said they all go the same speed. A retired pilot from United said you hit some good air.

Won't the 787 seating be 2 x 4 x 2 in coach?
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Apr 26th, 2005, 11:21 AM
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Most planes fly at round Mach 0.85. 747 a little faster, perhaps 0.87; Airbuses slower, about 0.82-0.83. Actual ground speed will depend mostly on headwind/tailwind, and perhaps air pressure.

It's not uncommon to see ground speed over 650mph over the North Atlantic, and near Japan, sometimes over 700mph, if you're flying west to east. And way under 500 going the other way. In winter, HKG->NRT can take just over 3 hours while NRT->HKG can take close to 5.

And since we're talking about Air Canada, they now fly SYD->YVR non-stop in their 340-300, but YVR->SYD requires a technical stop in HNL.

---

Most airlines should have 8 abreast seating in the 787. Boeing early mock-ups have 3-2-3, though I believe delivery models will mostly likely be 2-4-2, and I'm sure a few airlines will put 9-abreast.
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May 3rd, 2005, 07:23 AM
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Before people go on assuming that Singapore Airlines dislikes its Airbus 340-500s you must consider several things-

- Singapore is operating an oddball fleet of only 5 340-500s. Singapore had 12 340-313s at one point, but Boeing made a deal they could not refuse where Singapore took 777s one for one, and gave Boeing the 340s, which were later leased to Cathay Pacific and Emirates.

-The 340-500, like its bigger sibling the 340-600, is overweight. The 340-500 weighs more per passenger than the 777-200LR, Boeing's own long range jet which recently began testing. It is a widely known fact that the 777-200LR is a superior aircraft in that it is a twinjet (more reliable), it has greater range, more lifting capacity (no point in having the cargo space of the 340-500 when you can only lift .5 tons of cargo on the SIN-LAX/EWR routes). The 340-500 has one advantage - it is significantly cheaper to buy.

The 777-200LR is NOT a troubled program. The media seems to jump on this bandwagon, but consider this, the 777-200LR allows Boeing to build a longhaul freighter Airbus is unable to compare to (the 777-200LR will have a 9.9 lift to thrust rating, significantly higher to anything Airbus has to offer... or has on the drawing board. The 777-200LR is pretty much the 777-300ER's wing and engines on the body of a 777-200ER with slight avionics upgrades and additional fuel tanks. Not a huge project by any measure. The same goes for the 340-500. Even if the product fails, Airbus can fall back on its 340-600 and 340-300, and its smaller siblings - the 330-300/200.

Singapore has no reason to speak negatively about their 340-500s - Airbus has made them launch customer and bent over backwards for them... including offering them HUGE discounts, etc...

Air Canada delayed its 340-500s because it was in Creditor Protection. Air Canada made an extremely good decision to replace its
Boeing fleets, firstly because of an excellent currency conversion rate, a sweet deal from Boeing (similar to the Singapore deal referred to before), and the fact that the 777 is far superior to the Airbus 340 and 330 in almost all aspects.

martytravels- Detroit-Shanghai/Beijing isn't really all that far. Northwest was flying this route with 747-400s for quite awhile. When Northwest was considering Boeing 777 (which were rejected for Airbus 330s), Detroit-Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai were pointed out as possible routes for the aircraft. Unfortunately, the low quality of the Pratt & Whitney engine they had opted for did not allow for this flight to be flown at the levels (cargo, passenger and performance wise)

Just a tid bit of information for those who may have wanted it.

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May 3rd, 2005, 10:11 AM
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rkkwan,

I wouldn't be so quick to say that. Consider that some airlines operate their Airbus 330s in a 9 abreast (3-3-3) configuration. The 787 is actually wider than then Airbus 330, making it easier to configure the jet in a comfortable 3-3-3 or 2-4-3 configuration. The 747 was designed to seat 9 abreast in economy, and for years this was so. In the late 1970s, Swissair was the final airline to switch to 10 abreast. The same for the DC-10, which was configured 8 abreast, however most airlines reconfigured it to 9 abreast. The 777 is going through a similar experience right now.
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Nov 9th, 2005, 12:46 PM
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Just to close the loop on this, Air Canada ran into a major snag with their pilots in May and cancelled the Boeing order. However, the issue with the pilots was settled through binding arbitration and AC today announced that the order is back on. From the press release:

"The agreement includes firm orders for 18 Boeing 777s, plus purchase rights for 18 more, in a yet-to-be-determined mix of the 777 family's newest models: the 777-300ER, the 777-200LR Worldliner (the longest range airplane in the world), and the newly announced 777 Freighter. Delivery of the first six 777 aircraft is scheduled commencing in March through to July 2007. The agreement also includes firm orders for 14 ultra-efficient new Boeing 787 Dreamliners, plus options and purchase rights for an additional 46 aircraft. Air Canada's first 787 is scheduled for delivery in 2010."

Good news for AC and its customers.

Anselm
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Nov 15th, 2005, 06:55 PM
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You guys are nerds. I mean no offense by that, I actually find all this totally fascinating and am trying to understand half of it.

Rock on.
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Nov 15th, 2005, 06:56 PM
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p.s., in case anyone takes offense, i repeat, i mean nerds in a joking, kind-hearted fashion.

i love that there are forums out there for people who have obsessions about airline seating configurations, etc. it's fun!
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