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Boeing Versus Airbus: The Inside Story of the Greatest International Competition in Business

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The commercial airline industry is one of the most volatile, dog-eat-dog enterprises in the world, and in the late 1990s, Europe’s Airbus overtook America’s Boeing as the preeminent aircraft manufacturer. However, Airbus quickly succumbed to the same complacency it once challenged, and Boeing regained its precarious place on top. Now, after years of heated battle and misma The commercial airline industry is one of the most volatile, dog-eat-dog enterprises in the world, and in the late 1990s, Europe’s Airbus overtook America’s Boeing as the preeminent aircraft manufacturer. However, Airbus quickly succumbed to the same complacency it once challenged, and Boeing regained its precarious place on top. Now, after years of heated battle and mismanagement, both companies face the challenge of serving burgeoning Asian markets and stiff competition from China and Japan. Combining insider knowledge with vivid prose and insight, John Newhouse delivers a riveting story of these two titans of the sky and their struggles to stay in the air.


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The commercial airline industry is one of the most volatile, dog-eat-dog enterprises in the world, and in the late 1990s, Europe’s Airbus overtook America’s Boeing as the preeminent aircraft manufacturer. However, Airbus quickly succumbed to the same complacency it once challenged, and Boeing regained its precarious place on top. Now, after years of heated battle and misma The commercial airline industry is one of the most volatile, dog-eat-dog enterprises in the world, and in the late 1990s, Europe’s Airbus overtook America’s Boeing as the preeminent aircraft manufacturer. However, Airbus quickly succumbed to the same complacency it once challenged, and Boeing regained its precarious place on top. Now, after years of heated battle and mismanagement, both companies face the challenge of serving burgeoning Asian markets and stiff competition from China and Japan. Combining insider knowledge with vivid prose and insight, John Newhouse delivers a riveting story of these two titans of the sky and their struggles to stay in the air.

30 review for Boeing Versus Airbus: The Inside Story of the Greatest International Competition in Business

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kash

    This could be written in one chapter. Reads more like a newspaper column. Every page is filled with this: Boeing is like this, Airbus is like that. Annoying!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    Boeing versus Airbus is certainly not as good as Newhouse's earlier book The Sporty Book which covered the major events in the airplane manufacturing industry during the 1980s. Nonetheless it provides an adequate history of the competition waged between 1990 and 2005 by the two firms that still dominate the airplane market in 2016. John Newhouse is a highly qualified observer who has very sound judgement concerning the trends in the industry. Notably his prediction that Airbus would never sell en Boeing versus Airbus is certainly not as good as Newhouse's earlier book The Sporty Book which covered the major events in the airplane manufacturing industry during the 1980s. Nonetheless it provides an adequate history of the competition waged between 1990 and 2005 by the two firms that still dominate the airplane market in 2016. John Newhouse is a highly qualified observer who has very sound judgement concerning the trends in the industry. Notably his prediction that Airbus would never sell enough A380s to earn a return on the investment has been born out by subsequent events. Also, Newhouse correctly anticipated that after having lost market share for a decade to Airbus, Boeing had assembled a new management team and product portfolio that would allow it to maintain its position market in the decade. However, despite the fact that Newhouse's conclusions and forecasts have subsequently proven to have been very solid, the research effort for the book seems perfunctory at best. as he appears primarily to have culled his old interview notes. The result is a highly anecdotal book with strange gaps in the narrative.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Vinay Mehta

    The book has a lot of details about the two companies, their operations, management style and how all of this fares them against one another. But, what I missed here is details on key things that would have mattered; numbers for production rates, margins, sales growth etc that would show definitive comparison between the two. Also, the chronology of events is not maintained rather few chapters are just filled up with contents un-necessary to the point or not relevant in the context. Could have bee The book has a lot of details about the two companies, their operations, management style and how all of this fares them against one another. But, what I missed here is details on key things that would have mattered; numbers for production rates, margins, sales growth etc that would show definitive comparison between the two. Also, the chronology of events is not maintained rather few chapters are just filled up with contents un-necessary to the point or not relevant in the context. Could have been a good short read rather than a book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Newton Shreram

    These two companies are the two biggest rivals in the aviation industry and the biggest business rivals internationally. John Newhouse takes us through Boeing's fall in the 1990's, to the corrupted leadership of Airbus in the 2000's. Must read for anyone who loves buisness and aviation. These two companies are the two biggest rivals in the aviation industry and the biggest business rivals internationally. John Newhouse takes us through Boeing's fall in the 1990's, to the corrupted leadership of Airbus in the 2000's. Must read for anyone who loves buisness and aviation.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Oliver Hazan

    A somewhat lackluster sequel to "The Sporty Game." Still, quite interesting if you're into airliners. A somewhat lackluster sequel to "The Sporty Game." Still, quite interesting if you're into airliners.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Karthikeyan

    Brilliantly written book which chronicles the journey of Boeing and Airbus over the past half century. A rich explanation on the interaction between the various stakeholders like airlines, engine manufacturers, politics with these aircraft manufacturers, is commendable. This opens up our mind to the wide array of global dynamics which is not intuitive. John Newhouse clearly takes the side against Boeing, but not for Airbus. This could have arose due to the sense of betrayal that Americans might h Brilliantly written book which chronicles the journey of Boeing and Airbus over the past half century. A rich explanation on the interaction between the various stakeholders like airlines, engine manufacturers, politics with these aircraft manufacturers, is commendable. This opens up our mind to the wide array of global dynamics which is not intuitive. John Newhouse clearly takes the side against Boeing, but not for Airbus. This could have arose due to the sense of betrayal that Americans might have felt due to its involvement in too many scandals as well as due to the culture shift from being a company run by engineers to being run by managers. Given the book was written in 2007, the end of book only leaves us yearning for a good sequel which can cover the subsequent decade of the competition between Boeing and Airbus. This is a resourceful and a well researched book, that is really well written and deserves many re-reads. My decision to not give a full on five star for this book is due to its lack of engineering details contrasting the big two. A dive into the engineering realm would have been awesome and holistic, which this book lacks.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    Interesting story of the concurrent paths of these two giants of airframe manufacturers, especially in identifying the swings to & from dominance and decline that each have experienced. Some of the characters described were certainly larger than life too. As with many books on the aviation industry this has quickly dated having been written before delivery of the first B787 and when the development of the A350 was barely begun. Also evidenced by the observation that Emirates gets scant reference Interesting story of the concurrent paths of these two giants of airframe manufacturers, especially in identifying the swings to & from dominance and decline that each have experienced. Some of the characters described were certainly larger than life too. As with many books on the aviation industry this has quickly dated having been written before delivery of the first B787 and when the development of the A350 was barely begun. Also evidenced by the observation that Emirates gets scant reference whilst Etihad and Qatar were not even mentioned. Apart from that I found it really interesting and informative.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kathy D

    It reads like a tennis match and Newhouse provides blame, praise and insight for both airframe manufacturers. China's upcoming entry into the commercial aircraft market will make this an ongoing "who's in first?' It reads like a tennis match and Newhouse provides blame, praise and insight for both airframe manufacturers. China's upcoming entry into the commercial aircraft market will make this an ongoing "who's in first?'

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hallie

    Good history on the rise and development of both companies and the overall industry landscape, but started getting lost in all the similar plane model numbers somewhere near the middle... This book needs a reference chart showing how the models compare/compete against each other.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    The Economist gave this book a great review. http://economist.com/books/displaysto... The Economist gave this book a great review. http://economist.com/books/displaysto...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    wonderfully skim-able. Would have made a great 2 part series in the business section. I'm glad I read it, but I'm also glad I spent less than a day on it. wonderfully skim-able. Would have made a great 2 part series in the business section. I'm glad I read it, but I'm also glad I spent less than a day on it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Syahid Abdullah

    hell why i must know about the business? cool. I'm in aviation. hell why i must know about the business? cool. I'm in aviation.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alex Moskalyuk

    Pretty good overview of the market dynamics and competitive pressures faced by Boeing and Airbus. A fairly detailed history of the 787 Dreamliner project with some good insights into how airlines buy and operate planes, and who calls the shots in the airline industry. The book needlessly goes into Boeing's corporate infighting, boardroom chess and personality clashes, which does get boring after a bit. Pretty good overview of the market dynamics and competitive pressures faced by Boeing and Airbus. A fairly detailed history of the 787 Dreamliner project with some good insights into how airlines buy and operate planes, and who calls the shots in the airline industry. The book needlessly goes into Boeing's corporate infighting, boardroom chess and personality clashes, which does get boring after a bit.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sebastian Henao

    -Historically you can understand by reading this book the main technological, political and economic factors that have made the aviation industry evolve -It is written in an friendly way, were any reader can understand technical aspects of the topics

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alessio

    great book!!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tej

    Informative, but reads like a stack of WSJ articles stitched together into a book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amish

    If you want to understand some of the reasons for Boeing’s challenges today - read this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kylan

    Accurate representation of Airbus and Boeing's rivalry, though the book also focuses on MD and all other companies in the USA and Europe. Great book, but could improve. Accurate representation of Airbus and Boeing's rivalry, though the book also focuses on MD and all other companies in the USA and Europe. Great book, but could improve.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bowdoin

    Youle Kang–John Newhouse's Boeing Versus Airbus introduced me to the fascinating and dangerous world of air industry: the inside story of the greatest international competition in business. As America's most succesful and admired corporation from inception, Boeing aircrafts dominated the commercial airplane market until the European startup Airbus entered the game in 1980s. Since then, it has grabbed half of the market share. This is not a happy ending, however, as Airbus "suffered from mismanag Youle Kang–John Newhouse's Boeing Versus Airbus introduced me to the fascinating and dangerous world of air industry: the inside story of the greatest international competition in business. As America's most succesful and admired corporation from inception, Boeing aircrafts dominated the commercial airplane market until the European startup Airbus entered the game in 1980s. Since then, it has grabbed half of the market share. This is not a happy ending, however, as Airbus "suffered from mismanagement and had adopted the kind of complacent, risk-averse culture that had once characterized Boeing". Despite serious setbacks Boeing has dealt with in recent years, its technologically revolutionary 787, together with advanced versions of 737, 777 and 747, will pose the most serious challenge to Airbus's long-term prosperity and even the survival of the company. Entangled with the problems of the super-jumbo A380, Airbus lacks both financial and engineering resources to come up with its version of the next generation wide-body point-to-point jetliner to compete head-to-head against the Boeing 787. So far, its proposed A350 still remains a "paper plane." Boeing might be poised to beat Airbus and regain market dominance. Nevertheless, airlines want to see more competition between the two to bring down prices, and Airbus has definitely demonstrated its ability and potential to make superb aircraft. Also, new problems have arisen for both giants: potential competition from Asian aircraft makers. So the fascinating story in the "turbulent sky" continues.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Derek (AGrumpyOldMan)

    A very good accounting of the rivalry over the years between Boeing and Airbus in the market for commercial aircraft. I thought the book was a little sluggish to start, a little scattershot as it bounced from topic to topic. However, the book settled in a well-paced narrative that laid out the evolution of the place of the remaining two titans of commercial airplanes in the commercial aviation industry. Reading numerous reviews of travel experiences from various airlines as well as having travele A very good accounting of the rivalry over the years between Boeing and Airbus in the market for commercial aircraft. I thought the book was a little sluggish to start, a little scattershot as it bounced from topic to topic. However, the book settled in a well-paced narrative that laid out the evolution of the place of the remaining two titans of commercial airplanes in the commercial aviation industry. Reading numerous reviews of travel experiences from various airlines as well as having traveled over the years and being a bit of a commercial aviation fan, I was well versed with aircraft in the book. However, as with any industry, the perspective of the consumer deviates significantly from the perspective of those in a business providing a good or service. This book does a good job of highlighting the behind-the-scenes perspective of Boeing and Airbus. The book reviews business strategies, the personality of the various leaders of the two companies and the impact of government. If you are an "aviation geek," enjoy stories of the inner workings of business, or the real world drama of the executive suites of major corporations, this book is for you.

  21. 4 out of 5

    colin

    With the on-going drama between the two companies, it really is a shame this book was published when it was. That being said, the constant back-and-forth between the two companies makes nearly any book on the topic out of date. Interestingly, this books release coincided with a number of cancelled orders for Airbus' A380. Aside from that, this book provides a nice overview of the state of how the airline manufacturing industry functions (or stumbles precipitously). Generally speaking, this book With the on-going drama between the two companies, it really is a shame this book was published when it was. That being said, the constant back-and-forth between the two companies makes nearly any book on the topic out of date. Interestingly, this books release coincided with a number of cancelled orders for Airbus' A380. Aside from that, this book provides a nice overview of the state of how the airline manufacturing industry functions (or stumbles precipitously). Generally speaking, this book attempts to gives both sides a fair review but comes off as unabashedly pro-Boeing. While this isn't necessarily a pro-US (or private industry) bent, it can be seen that way without little imagination. While the author attempts to look at the bright spots of the Airbus-EADS structure, it is clear from the writing that he would have preferred to use stronger adjectives when describing its failings. Still the book provides a nice preview of what may be the future of commercial aviation.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jmswtsn

    Good, factually based, easy to read, able to call both Boeing and Airbus on their failings, although it does seem slightly biased towards Boeing (although as a fan of Boeing, I can't really object, only observe). But overall, the author tries and succeeds to portray a balanced view of the competition between the two giants of the commercial aircraft production industry. I docked this book some stars because many of the chapters seem to go back and recover the same ground as before, and rehash the Good, factually based, easy to read, able to call both Boeing and Airbus on their failings, although it does seem slightly biased towards Boeing (although as a fan of Boeing, I can't really object, only observe). But overall, the author tries and succeeds to portray a balanced view of the competition between the two giants of the commercial aircraft production industry. I docked this book some stars because many of the chapters seem to go back and recover the same ground as before, and rehash the same ideas, only in more depth. Maybe that is a writing style, but it seemed a bit tedious at times. Also, while the book mentions that the A330 killed the 767 line (and gives some insight into how), I would have liked some more info on that particular topic - its a pretty big story and seemed like an afterthought more than a main topic. A good read for anyone interested in the current state of the commercial aircraft business.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    John Newhouse delivers a thorough and thoughtful analysis of the airline industry from the suppliers to the airports and how they are connected to these two giants. Each representing one of the largest export commodities for their respective countries or collection of countries their impact on the world economy is clearly assessed in this book. Newhouse looks at not only their current state but how each developed into its position from mergers and acquisition to government subsidies. It looks at John Newhouse delivers a thorough and thoughtful analysis of the airline industry from the suppliers to the airports and how they are connected to these two giants. Each representing one of the largest export commodities for their respective countries or collection of countries their impact on the world economy is clearly assessed in this book. Newhouse looks at not only their current state but how each developed into its position from mergers and acquisition to government subsidies. It looks at the role of Asian markets and the development of possible rivals there. While I agree with reviewers that the book is disorganized at the beginning it does fall into a logical pattern that makes sense after the first two chapters. If you are looking for a look at the state of the airline industry around 2008 this is a great place to get that information and consider the challenges that face air plane producers across the world.

  24. 5 out of 5

    K C

    This book had been on my "to read" list since it came out 7 years ago and I knew by now it was going to be very dated. However, I thought it would still be a good primer and provide historical perspective on what is, if not "the greatest international competition in business," at least one of the more interesting ones. Sadly, I found it lacking and suspect that this book is merely an extension of a more comprehensive book by the author on the airline industry, The Sporty Game, which I have not r This book had been on my "to read" list since it came out 7 years ago and I knew by now it was going to be very dated. However, I thought it would still be a good primer and provide historical perspective on what is, if not "the greatest international competition in business," at least one of the more interesting ones. Sadly, I found it lacking and suspect that this book is merely an extension of a more comprehensive book by the author on the airline industry, The Sporty Game, which I have not read. I found the structure of the book, where each chapter is based on a business or management theme, very hard to follow as each chapter covered the same years from a different perspective and events that were referred to in the early chapters were only explained in later chapters. Although the book has increased my admittedly meager knowledge of the airline industry, I don't feel as if I gained much insight into the actual competition.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Peter Rooijmans

    More a collection of newspaper articles than a historical account. At times repetitive and superficial. However, the theme of how massively expensive and thereby risky high-tech projects are decided on, remains interesting and inspiring, especially for someone from a country, where the government has no clue as to the meaning and importance of high-tech.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Durand

    Lots of good information on the air-frame and aircraft industry, but was difficult to follow at points. Would be interesting to see an update about Boeing's issues with the 787 especially as it had to bring much of the work back in house to get it completed properly. Lots of good information on the air-frame and aircraft industry, but was difficult to follow at points. Would be interesting to see an update about Boeing's issues with the 787 especially as it had to bring much of the work back in house to get it completed properly.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Asher

    I spotted an error in the final paragraphs of chapter eight: "Six months later, SIA, the industry's bellwether, concluded a long negotiating process with the rival teams by choosing the 787 over the A350." In 2006, SIA purchased twenty 787s and thirty A350s. I spotted an error in the final paragraphs of chapter eight: "Six months later, SIA, the industry's bellwether, concluded a long negotiating process with the rival teams by choosing the 787 over the A350." In 2006, SIA purchased twenty 787s and thirty A350s.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    Superman needs Lex Luthor. I work for Boeing, so I'll let you guess which company is which in my little analogy. Most of this book was over my head. Superman needs Lex Luthor. I work for Boeing, so I'll let you guess which company is which in my little analogy. Most of this book was over my head.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jose

    good story about their competition... a lot of agent x principal dilemmas.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Naresh

    Didn't really live up to its title of 'inside story'. Still a good read for airline geeks. Didn't really live up to its title of 'inside story'. Still a good read for airline geeks.

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