Airbus A350 Has First Flight, as Competition with Boeing Rises


Airbus sent its A350 into the air for the first time, at least as far as the public has seen. If the plane has no major glitches, it may be a formidable competitor to the troubled Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) 787 Dreamliner, which has been dogged by delays and a series of battery fires. This in turn has made carriers wary of ordering more of the aircraft.

A lack of mechanical problems may help Airbus take business from Boeing. Now that the 787 has been returned to service, there remains a skepticism that it will not have more glitches. The fact that its manufacturing process had starts and stops - and some of these were caused by a lack or parts or assembly issues - means that anxiety about the plane may not go away for years.

Even if Boeing can convince its airline partners that the plane is bug-free, fliers have had months of exposure to media reports about the battery fires. And these consumers may opt to fly on other planes, even if it means an inconvenience. Airlines will have to weigh whether passenger opinion will hurt their sales.

So, the Airbus A350 may be a plane the manufacturer can market to airlines as one without severe problems that will take it out of service. More importantly, fliers may welcome a plane that works.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Airlines Tagged: BA, featured