The commercial aircraft manufacturing segment is currently a duopoly, dominated by American Boeing and European Airbus. Any airline company planning to buy commercial jets has primarily these two options only. It is natural that each of these companies claim to be the best. There is a constant battle to outwit each other, wherein both Boeing and Airbus introduce new features to make flying easier and safer.
When buying a commercial aircraft, airline companies are faced with the question whether to choose Boeing or Airbus. It is not always an easy decision, as there are various variables involved. To understand which is better between Boeing vs. Airbus, here are some important things to consider.
Acquisition cost – Any company buying an aircraft will look into its pricing. It is generally believed that Airbus planes are more affordable than Boeing. This perception comes from the fact that Airbus gets tax breaks as well as government subsidies via government orders. But the same is true for Boeing as well because the company gets access to contracts from US military and government. Acquisition cost may vary based on the type of aircraft ordered and customizations requested.
Waiting period / delivery time – Manufacturing planes takes time, as parts have to be sourced from multiple countries across the globe. For both Boeing and Airbus, production time takes several months. There is not much difference between production time of Boeing and Airbus. However, it is possible that Boeing may deliver faster, as it has a larger workforce than Airbus.
Ease of flying – The decision to choose between Boeing and Airbus also depends on the ease of flying. In case of Boeing, pilots get a better feel of what is happening with the plane. On the other hand, pilots flying Airbus have to rely majorly on instrumentation and automation. A good thing about Airbus is that pilots can easily fly other Airbus models with minimal training. In comparison, flying a different Boeing jet usually requires pilots to undergo longer training.
Operational cost – Airline companies need to be profitable to survive in the highly competitive aviation sector. They will naturally look for planes that have lower operational cost. Various factors come into the picture such as durability, maintenance cost, availability and price of parts, fuel efficiency, pilot training cost, seats available in the given space, cost of upgradation and overall lifespan of the plane. Boeing planes are usually considered to have a longer lifespan than Airbus planes.
Safety – Both Boeing and Airbus planes are considered extremely safe. The safety perception usually keeps changing depending on events like a plane crash. For example, there were two Boeing 737 MAX plane crashes in 2019-2020, which had resulted in the grounding of the fleet in several countries. As a result, Boeing sales were impacted during that period. The issue with Boeing 737 MAX has now been fixed.
Last but not least, airline companies also need to consider passenger comfort. With their wider fuselage, current-gen Airbus planes are usually considered to be more comfortable than respective Boeing aircrafts. The former can accommodate wider seats and there is a general sense of larger cabin space.