Boeing, Airbus pressed to deliver new planes – but at what cost?The world's two largest aircraft makers, Boeing and Airbus, are fierce rivals in the oligopolistic airline manufacturing industry. Recently, airlines have pressured the two companies to produce more fuel-efficient substitutes for their smaller planes.

Airline executives pushed for redesigns of the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 – small planes that make up roughly 75 percent of fleets at the largest airlines. Michael G. Van de Ven, the chief operating officer at Southwest Airlines, told the New York Times that in terms of fuel economy, they "haven't seen substantial improvements since the 1990s." With ticket prices rises along with the price of oil, the best "thing that you can do to improve the economics in this industry" is to "introduce a new airplane."

However, Airbus and Boeing are hesitant to invest the massive amounts of money – roughly $2 billion for the former and double that for the latter – it will take to develop and test new, more efficient engines for the planes. The companies defend their reluctance to implement new engines as they assert the move would hamper their efforts to design brand new versions of the two planes, potentially offering greater cost and energy savings.

Both airlines are both under intensifying pressure right now to deliver new planes: currently, because of breakdowns in their supple chains, Boeing has delayed its 787 Dreamliner for more than three years, while Airbus has many of its superjumbo jets, the A380, on backorder.
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