Case | HBS Case Collection | November 2000 (Revised April 2004)

Airbus A3XX: Developing the World's Largest Commercial Jet (A)

by Benjamin C. Esty and Michael Kane


In July 2000, Airbus Industries' supervisory board is on the verge of approving a $13 billion investment for the development of a new super jumbo jet known as the A3XX that would seat from 550 to 1,000 passengers. Having secured approximately 20 orders for the new jet, the board must decide whether there is sufficient long-term demand for the A3XX to justify the investment. At the time, Airbus was predicting that the market for very large aircraft (VLA), those seating more than 500 passengers, would exceed 1,500 aircraft over the next 20 years and would generate sales in excess of $350 billion. According to Airbus, it needed to sell 250 aircraft to break even and could sell as many as 750 aircraft over the next 20 years. This case explores the two sets of forecasts and asks students whether they would proceed with the launch given the size of the investment and the uncertainty in long-term demand.

Keywords: Risk and Uncertainty; Investment; Forecasting and Prediction; Capital Budgeting; Valuation; Government and Politics; Demand and Consumers; Product Development; Product Positioning; Air Transportation Industry; Manufacturing Industry;


Esty, Benjamin C., and Michael Kane. "Airbus A3XX: Developing the World's Largest Commercial Jet (A)." Harvard Business School Case 201-028, November 2000. (Revised April 2004.)