Boeing says there are now virtually no delivery slots available for so-called 737NG "bridge aircraft" prior to the introduction of the re-engined 737 Max variants in 2017. And the airframer's market intelligence indicates that it is doing a better job of shifting these "last-off-the-line" slots than rival Airbus.
"We're doing great," says Kostya Zolotusky, Boeing Capital's managing director of capital markets and leasing. "If you wanted to buy 737NGs before the delivery of Max, I'd say 'sorry, can't help'. We may be able to scrounge a position here or there for a premium customer that is a previous buyer of equipment, but it's not readily available."
However Zolotusky believes that the Airbus sales team is having a harder time shifting delivery slots for the current A320 variants that will bridge production to re-engined A320neo, deliveries of which are due begin in late 2015. "I suspect that it is a much different story for Airbus because of the pricing we're seeing," he says.
Airbus has sold around 1,500 A320neos since the programme was launched two years ago. Boeing, which announced the go-ahead of the 737 Max around nine months after its rival, has sold almost 1,000 of the re-engined variants.
This year, Airbus's single-aisle sales have been shaded by its rival so far. Toulouse had taken orders for 543 A320s (all variants) to the end of November, whereas Boeing had sold 1,063 737s (gross), of which 819 are 737 Max variants and the remaining 244 are 737NGs. The total backlog for all A320 family variants currently stands at 3,463 aircraft, while the 737 backlog is 3,020 aircraft.