It sounds as if Airbus has annoyed a few customers of late. The ‘will it, won’t it’ story of the A330 passenger to freighter conversion programme, doesn’t seem to have ended, despite the manufacturer’s much anticipated announcement, that ‘it will’.
Qatar Airways, yet to announce its order for what is expected to be 20 conversions, seems to have forced Airbus into developing some sort of freighter strategy – but at some cost to its existing customers. They had clearly understood, according to sources, that Airbus would not launch a conversion programme.
Not only that, but Airbus then announced that the P2F programme would not affect values of its existing A330Fs – (even going so far as to say it would have a positive, not negative affect on values). But customers disagree. One source suggested that the aircraft were now worth 25% less, and MASKargo has been more vocal about it. Other current Airbus customers have also told The Loadstar they have been ‘disappointed’ with the lack of transparency surrounding the programme. It sounds as if the manufacturer has some making up to do with customers who are finding the market tough, and Airbus’s chaotic freighter strategy is hardly helping. Existing A330F customers are Etihad, Hong Kong Airlines, MNG, Turkish, MAS and Avianca.
Incidentally, while checking on A330 orders, The Loadstar stumbled over a part of the Airbus site: “Let’s shop”. Intrigued as to whether you could buy an aircraft there, with just one click, we had a quick look.
And, yes, of course, it’s bags and toys and model planes and all that stuff you get free at conferences. But it led to the question: does Boeing have a similar shop (yes, the Boeing store) and how do prices compare?
Well, interestingly enough, it’s almost as if they had chatted. The price of a model freighter (the A330-200F versus the 747-8F, since you ask) is exactly the same, at $35 for a diecast model. (Ladies t-shirts are cheaper at Boeing (between $16 and $20) while Airbus’s, at $25, seem properly expensive. But they do look better quality.)
Now is there a relationship we can see between toy planes and real ones? Well, the customers are best placed to answer that. But The Loadstar can vouch for the quality of low cost Airbus products. It was given an Airbus bag 12 years ago at a conference and it is – still is – amazing quality. It’s been round the world several times over, and is used daily, even now.
Unfortunately, this particular line of excellent bags has been discontinued. And replaced with a new version.
Let’s hope that Airbus makes happier choices with its newly implemented freighter strategy – and finds a way to calm existing customers who are no doubt looking enviously over their shoulders at those who are able to enjoy the cheaper conversion programme. And it’s certainly worth watching to see how the A330F does in comparison to the conversions.