Welcome to Episode 067 of the #PaxEx Podcast, which tracks how the airline passenger experience is evolving in a mobile, social, vocal world.
In this episode – available on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts – co-hosts Max Flight and Mary Kirby are joined by RGN deputy editor and aviation journalist extraordinaire John Walton to discuss the biggest headlines to emerge from the Paris Air Show, and some of the oft-times peculiar messaging from the world’s two biggest airframers.
Firstly, the 737 MAX, and Boeing’s response to its worldwide ban on safety grounds, was expected to dominate the 53rd Paris Air Show, and it did. John, who covered the airshow from nose to tail for Runway Girl Network, reported that Boeing was in apology mode throughout the event. He describes what the mood like at the Boeing chalet and during Boeing press conferences, and highlights Boeing’s seemingly new “global certification” messaging. Max, Mary and John also discuss how the MAX colored the entire airshow, and why many travelers are still expressing fear of flying the type.
Next, Philippine low-cost airline Cebu Pacific announced in Paris that it will install 460 seats in an all-economy configuration aboard the A330-900neo, representing a new maximum-passenger figure for the A330. John details the work undertaken by Airbus and Cebu to accomplish this high-density feat and explains why he believes the product makes sense for Cebu’s specific market. And Mary highlights the mixed messaging from Airbus over the years – the airframer once floated the notion of a ‘comfort standard’ for aircraft seats, but is increasingly pushing high-density configurations, including for the A350. This represents a notable pivot from the airframer, and will ultimately mean a devolution in widebody #PaxEx.
Last but certainly not least, Airbus used the occasion of the Paris Air Show to launch the A321XLR program, which then proceeded to rack up an impressive list of orders, including from American Airlines. The aircraft is positioned to address the middle of the market, and airlines are eyeing transatlantic nonstops for this narrowbody. But since the announcement was made, there has been renewed discussion on social media about whether passengers really want to fly in narrowbodies on longhaul routes. John, Max and Mary share where they stand on the issue, and consider how Boeing can compete, either with the NMA or something entirely different.