July 20th, 2011

The Crazy Order

Today, American Airlines announced their long awaited order for the narrowbodies, and nobody saw this one coming. Short background. In the mid late 90′s American Airlines, Delta Airlines and Continental Airlines entered into a deal with Boeing that basically said: If you (AA/DL/CO) order all aircraft types for which we have at least a competing product with us, we guarantee you not only a great price, but also darn good delivery slots. When Boeing later wanted to acquire McDonnell Douglas a few years later, the European Union forced Boeing into not being able to enforce said contract due to it being perceived as being anti-competitive, but nothing withheld AA, DL, CO or Boeing to simply continue the deal without enforcement. AA remained a loyal Boeing-only airline. So did Dl and CO, until they merged with Northwest and United respectively, who were both already operating Airbus aircraft.

After the huge problems with the 787 and to some extent the 747i in terms of promised delivery (and for that matter, the A380), airlines faith in OEM’s to actually deliver on time has melted away rapidly, and therefore, imho, part of the value of said contract. Mitigating that risk is only possible by diversifying ones OEM’s. And this is what happened today. Despite all the broo ha ha that “American will NEVER order anything but Boeing”, “If it ain’t Boeing, I am not going”, they ordered a stunning 260+365 Airbusses and 97+200 Boeings (see below for the breakdown). The Boeing part is slightly more vague, as the actual model offered (737 with new engines) has not been approved by the board yet as far as we know. I really feel for the guys in Seattle (less for the ones in Chicago btw) because it seems to be a royal slap in the face.

Now in all honesty, there is a lot more to this order than the above, so allow me to just add a few oneliners:

  • What helped was actually Airbus offering the better airplane  (google 320 NEO).
  • What helped was probably a very intricate financing deal. Airbus is known for pulling that sort of thing off, and AA is financially NOT in good shape. I don’t think Boeing was feeling comfy with all that exposure.
  • >50% (probably MUCH more) will be US manufactured (think engines and avionics), so it is good for the US economy either way. And Airbus might open that factory they had promised for the tanker deal they eventually lost anyway.
  • We (the Europeans) buy a lot of Boeings, Air France (yes them) and KLM (my home patch) especially. Don’t come crying to me.

Fair deal I think. Congrats to AA, Airbus AND Boeing.

ps: yes, I know a few readers are chiming for the home team, and that is great. So am I. But even more, this is, whatever one thinks about it, a major shift in this industry and we’re talking billions and billions of dollars.

Edit: The actual numbers are in layman’s terms:

OEM-model Firm Option Intended Intended Option (?) Sub total Delivery notes (ex options)
Airbus 32x classic 130 130  20-35/yr 2013-2017
Airbus 32x NEO 130 365 495  10 in ’17, 20-25/yr ’18-’22
Sub total Airbus 260 365 625
Boeing 737NG 97 40 137  20/yr, 2013-2017
Boeing 737RE 100 60 160  20/yr, 2018-2022
Sub total Boeing 97 40 100 60 297
GRAND TOTAL 357 405 100 60 922


An Airbus A32x “classic” and a Boeing 737NG is what you’d fly in today.

A NEO is the big hit of the moment really. It has sold close to 1000 over 1200 units, and will be available in a few years

An  “RE” is a non-existing designation, but is the Boeing equivalent of the NEO. It is not defined nor authorized for sale yet. AA promised to be a launch customer IF Boeing commits to building it for this one, read: get ‘m cheap but with the usual early production quirks. (but will not be the launch OPERATOR)

Good grief.

Edit: few more words about the late 90′s deal. Some typos

July 27th, 2009

The city of Sin (and politicians) (kinda revisited)

See this post from last year please.

This year, a politician from, mind you, the largest party in our system, a moderate Christian bunch, are literally rocking the boat, read, will join in with about 40 gay, Christian people in the yearly parade through the Amsterdam canals. Not my party mind you, but I applaud this step forwards. The boat is called “holy boat”, hee hee.

An achor man from a fundamental Christian radio and tv network here, who was invited too, was denied the pleasure by his employer, stating “we choose our own methods and means to lift the taboo on homosexual Christians”. Yeah.

More on the nest here.

April 5th, 2009

The city of Sin (and the military)

Connections connection (the new gay marriage laws in some US states): Amsterdam has a pretty extravagant yearly “gay day” called Gay Pride. The most eye catching part is the Canal Parade going through the canals of the city center. Look here to get an idea of what’s going on there.

Last year, the defense department forbid the uniform to be worn at the parade, stating it would “harm the dignity of the uniform”. Mind you, Amsterdams major Job Cohen (you cannot imagine a more un-gay person)  joined in the festivities, in representative function (see his “major chain“).

This year, the secretary of defence withdrew the uniform rule, but added the department has no involvement whatsoever with the event and “does not see how Gay pride adds to a more positive attitude towards people with different sexual orientations”. Erm, maybe Cohen does and you can ask him?

November 19th, 2008

Is Alaska Airlines putting lives at risk?

Monday night, 2008 November 17, at 2100h I left Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport aboard Alaska flight AS-119 bound for Anchorage, Alaska (depart at 2100h; scheduled to arrive at 2340h). About 2 hours after the plane took off from Seattle the pilot, thoughtfully and thankfully announced that he was making an unscheduled stop at Yakutak airport,northwest of Juneau, Alaska to take on fuel. The pilot, in announcements to the passengers from “the flight deck” repeatedly said that the plane was taking on fuel because of weather conditions (fog) in Anchorage. According to an April 2008 MSNBC article entitled, Pilots claim airliners forced to fly with low fuel; Cost-cutting measures create serious risk for fliers, flight crews complain,, at least some of the major carriers are flying aircraft with a fuel load below or precariously close to the FAA required minimum. It seems to me, based on my experience Monday night, that Alaska Airlines might be a guilty of flying with too little fuel. Quoting from the the MSNBC article:

“FAA regulations are precise: A plane must take off with enough primary fuel to reach its destination and then its most distant alternate airport based on conditions. It must carry a reserve of 45 minutes’ worth of fuel on top of that.”

I’d be curious to know, and will be investigating further, how many times Alaska Airlines flights en route to Anchorage have stopped in Yakutat to refuel in the recent past?

It seems to me that Alaska Airlines is being rather cavalier. After all, flying to and from Alaska is not an inexpensive proposition and now, in addition to the price of the fare, I have to worry if Alaska Air has loaded enough fuel onto the plane to get me home safely. Because Alaska Air may not have sufficiently fueled the plane I was on, I and a Boeing 737 full of passengers (there was not one empty seat on the aircraft), more than 250 souls, had to arrive at our final destination 2-hours late so that the Airline could provide us with the safe travel that we should have been guaranteed when the plane left the ground in Seattle. Seriously, the thought of a winter rescue operation, at night, somewhere between Anchorage and Fairbanks (the alternate airport) is beyond my comprehension – hmmmm. Hmmm indeed.

PS I wonder if the pilot got any flak from Alaska Airlines management for his decision to stop and take on fuel in Yakutak?

February 3rd, 2008

The hideaway

Can I go here for a while please? I could use it? Please-y-please?

Yes, I know you don’t need “stunning picture” web-pages, but well, where this came from, it does stand out.

Earlier on the nest: The paradise.

January 24th, 2008

The blackened past

Uh oh. KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines), now part of Air France and a tight partner with Northwest Airlines. Has an image problem.

(…) The witness, 17 years old at the time (1949) saw a fierce exchange between KLM CEO Albert Plesman and the famous writer and pilot Adriaan Viruly . The latter protested bitterly according to the witness that he was asked to fly ‘black monks’ to Argentina. It was clear from the exchange those were Nazi war criminals said the witness, who was not publicly identified.

Because Viruly apparently considered to bring the matter in the open Plesman warned the pilot according to the witness with the words: “If you dare to ruin my KLM, I will take steps.”

November 16th, 2007

The Paradise

Is this paradise or what?

Thanks Ursi.


July 25th, 2007
June 3rd, 2007

The world of pictures

So, you thought flickr was kinda cool huh? And Google streetmaps, which is what all the fuzz is about now. But what if if somebody took ALL the pictures of the web, matched them together based on it’s semantics (read: how you tagged it), content (what is actually IN the picture) and then spacially connect all those pictures so basically building a photo model of the earth, zooming in and out and around each and every building, mountain, using all the pictures everybody somehow posted on the web. Wouldn’t that be something? It would huh? What about Microsoft doing that? How different would YOU feel about that, compared the the just mentioned fuzz about Google? And apart from those social-private aspects, how would you feel about this technology already being here? From TED, watch this amazing 8 minute presentation.


This is Rome, Vatican city, a detail of the the buildings surrounding the St. Peter square.

Added july 6th: Been there? So you saw the St. Marco plaza eh? well this Virtual Reality rendering from a viewpoint on top of the tower is ver VERY cool too. Requires Quicktime.


May 27th, 2007

The contract



Thanks Keesje on Airliners.net