24 March 2014
At last month's Singapore Airshow, Boeing executives discussed the 200-280-seat segment as a potential market for the company's next new jet. Airbus also has examined a new jet in this class. There are valid reasons to believe this will be the next new jetliner that one or both companies pursue, and that it will open a pivotal battleground.
Consider the market. Boeing built 1,049 757s, including 55 stretched -300 variants. Of these, 978 are still in service, according to the Airline Monitor. There have been more retirements of Boeing 737NGs than 757s, even though the latter jets are much older. Retrofit work on 757s, most notably to install range-extending winglets, has provided solid business, and it's quite likely these planes will be used to a relatively advanced age.
Several factors contributed to the 757 line's shutdown in 2005. As major U.S. carriers moved toward faster turnaround times and more frequent departures at hubs, their needs skewed to smaller jets. At the same time, European charter operators with 757s fell prey to low-cost carriers using Airbus A320s and 737s. And Boeing, under serious profit pressure, was desperate to control costs by moving toward a simpler product line with fewer models.