Jetliners failures

5 Commercial Jets Rejected by Airlines

Although attractive in theory, these aircraft failed to win orders

The Airbus A321neo is currently the commercial jet of choice for a large number of airlines around the world. With a large passenger capacity and range, the aircraft also has a low operating cost that makes it a profitable alternative for many customers.

It is no surprise that Airbus had an order book of almost 6,200 aircraft of the type until January 2024, with just over 1,260 aircraft delivered.

Despite the numerous problems faced in recent years, the Boeing 737 MAX 8 has accumulated around 5,300 gross orders or almost 4,000 of them net orders. A fleet of more than a thousand of these aircraft had been delivered as of last month.

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As you can see, both are examples of hugely successful commercial aircraft, but manufacturers also make mistakes.

It is not uncommon to see projects being launched and having order books emptied. Below we list five emblematic cases, some of which still have time to reverse this situation.

China Southern Airlines A319neo (Airbus)

Airbus A319neo – 61 orders*

The A320neo family already has more than 10,000 firm orders, surpassing the successful classic series by more than 2,000 aircraft. But if it depended on the A319neo, Airbus would be in trouble.

If it avoided repeating the mistake of the A318, the mini-Airbus that only had 80 aircraft produced, the Toulouse-based planemaker may have miscalculated the potential of the smallest Neo.

Capable of carrying up to 160 passengers, the A319neo can fly up to 3,700 nm (6,850 km), a worthy performance, but it has not attracted customers. As of January 2024, only 61 jets had been ordered, mostly from Chinese customers.

The A319neo has also has some VIP customers who use it as an executive aircraft, but there are no orders from major airlines.

One of its rivals is Airbus’ own A220-300, an aircraft of similar size, but much lighter and in theory more efficient.

Air Greenland A330-800 (Airbus)

Airbus A330-800 – 12 orders*

The A330-800 is a big mystery. A natural replacement for the acclaimed A330-200, the widebody has so far only received 12 firm orders.

It is the worst order book for an Airbus commercial plane and even the cargo version of the A330-200 managed to sell three times as many aircraft.

The A330-800 has no shortage of attributes: it can carry up to 406 passengers in single class and fly distances of up to 8,150 nm (15,094 km) non-stop.

Despite this, only Air Greenland (1 plane), Garuda (4), Kuwait Airways (4) and Uganda Airlines (2), as well as a VIP example, chose it.

It’s very little for an Airbus product, known for its sales force. But there is time to turn the tide.

Emirates Boeing 777-8 rendering (EA)

Boeing 777-8 – 43 orders*

The Boeing 777-8 appears to suffer from a similar problem to the A330-800. It attracts fewer orders than the larger 777-9 variant, while offering an impressive range of up to 8,745 nautical miles (16,190 km).

Until months ago there was only one customer, Etihad, which announced an order for eight jets a long time ago. But in November, Emirates Airline doubled down on the 777X after much criticism of Boeing.

As a result, the Dubai-based carrier announced a new order that includes 35 777-8s, bringing the total net order to 43 aircraft.

Boeing, however, is in no rush to launch the variant, which will only hit the market at the end of the decade, after the 777-9 and the 777-8F freighter.

“Janet Airlines” Boeing 737-600 (Tomás Del Coro)

Boeing 737-600 – 69 orders*

The 737 MAX family has an asset: none of its variants sell poorly. The 737-9 version, which was a cause for concern after a door plug came loose in flight in January, has 343 net orders and has attracted the least orders.

The exception in the 737 series is the 737-600, predecessor of the 737 MAX 7. The smallest of the Next Generation jets had only 69 orders in its entire career.

Like other shortened commercial jets, the 737-600 had few customers such as SAS, Tunis Air and WestJet. There were only 13 active aircraft today, five with Air Algerie, two with the Canadian AeroFlyer and the rest with “Janet Airlines”, the air transport service between Las Vegas and “Area 51”, the famous secret US Air Force base.

The E190-E2 was used as demonstration aircraft

Embraer E190-E2 – 35 orders*

The E190-E2 was the first member of Embraer’s new E2 family of commercial jets, having entered service in 2018. Replacement of the first generation E190, the aircraft offers much higher performance in addition to more seats.

Interestingly, the E190-E2 saw its orders shrink over the years. At the beginning of 2017, the commercial jet had 85 orders, but five years later, Embraer only had 20 aircraft sold.

The picture has seen a slight improvement since the end of 2022, with the backlog growing again to 35 planes, but it is much less than expected.

Just see that the E190 has had 568 orders since its launch and was the most successful E-Jet until recently.

Just like other planes listed here, the E190-E2 could be a game changer. In the second quarter, Scoot Airlines will begin receiving the nine leased aircraft of the type and putting them into service from Singapore.

It will be another opportunity for the aircraft to showcase its skills, currently appreciated by only three airlines and two private customers.

* As of February 2024.


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