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Compiled by Asanda Mbayimbayi


The differences between Airbus and Boeing

Do you have a preference between Boeing and Airbus when travelling? Here's how the two compare in terms of comfort, technology and safety.


The global travel industry has witnessed substantial growth over the years, with the number of travellers increasing significantly from around 400 000 in 1973, to a staggering 5.56 billion in 2019.

In this flourishing sector, two prominent players, Boeing and Airbus, are engaged in fierce competition to capture their respective shares of the market.

But do passengers really care what kind of plane they travel in?

According to Bonnie Smith, the general manager at FCM, the majority of travellers typically do not express a particular preference for either Boeing or Airbus aircraft when making their flight reservations.

She says that factors like ticket price, flight schedules, airline reputation, and total travel time tend to be more influential in their decision-making process.

“Some passengers may prefer specific aircraft models because of factors such as cabin layout, seating comfort, noise levels, or even window size,” Smith added.

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How an Airbus and Boeing compare

Comfort and design

According to Smith, Airbus tends to have a slightly wider fuselage, meaning that the cabin can feel more spacious, potentially offering more comfort, particularly in economy class.

“On the other hand, some travellers prefer the 787 Dreamliner from Boeing, which has larger windows and a design that reduces jet lag.

“The design difference extends to the seat arrangement as well. For instance, on long-haul aircraft, Boeing often uses a 3-3-3 seat configuration, whereas Airbus may use a 3-3-3 or a 3-4-3 layout, which could affect personal space.”

In-flight technology

Both Boeing and Airbus continuously innovate to enhance the passenger experience.

“This includes better in-flight entertainment systems, cabin lighting, air filtration systems, and noise reduction technology. For example, the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 both boast advancements in these areas, which can contribute to a more enjoyable and comfortable flight,” said Smith.

Safety

Both manufacturers have strong safety records, as safety is a top priority in the airline industry.

However, high-profile incidents may raise concerns among some passengers, said Smith.

“Boeing was long considered the aviation leader, largely due to its popular and best-selling 737 jetliner.

“Unfortunately, the manufacturer found itself facing significant challenges after two disastrous accidents in 2018 and 2019. It’s essential to understand that these incidents are infrequent compared to the total number of flights and that both Boeing and Airbus meet rigorous international safety standards.”

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Eco-Friendliness

In recent years, aviation has come under increased scrutiny for its environmental impact.

“In 2019 alone, the flight industry generated 900 million tons of carbon emissions, accounting for roughly 2% of total global emissions and 12% of emissions across all transportation sectors,” adds Smith.

And with world leaders tightening their stances on sustainability initiatives, both Airbus and Boeing have focused their efforts on developing more fuel-efficient, cost-effective aircraft.

FCM Airplanes Inside view. Picture: FCM Travel

FCM airplane inside view. Picture: FCM Travel

So which one is best?

“In February 2023, both Boeing and Airbus secured a groundbreaking order from Air India, marking the largest aircraft order in history.

Smith said although the deal is still in the process of finalisation, it is projected by the Wall Street Journal to hold a value of approximately $85 billion. The order encompasses a total of 470 new planes, with Boeing and Airbus sharing the allocation.

“Boeing’s portion of the order consists of 220 planes, of which 190 are slated to be 737 MAX jets, 20 will be 787 Dreamliners, and 10 are designated for the delayed new 777X series.”

In contrast, Airbus received an order for 250 planes, including 210 A320neo family narrow-body planes for domestic operations and 40 A350 wide-body jets for long-haul international flights.

According to Smith, the verdict is still undecided regarding which aircraft manufacturer surpasses the other.

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