So, Airbus’s parent company announced today that they’d be bidding for the Air Force aerial refueling tanker contract, meaning that Boeing won’t be a sole bidder after all. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of concern and analysis about this move, and what it means for Boeing’s chances of winning the contract. But I have to tell you – speaking purely from my perspective – that I think it’s much better for Boeing in the big picture.
Putting aside the fact that this decade-long process has had more twists and turns than a Chubby Checker dance marathon, Boeing as sole bidder had some significant political risks to it, making people think of the process as illegitimate. It also would have made the discussion of costs a lot tougher. If you’re the low bid in a multi-bidder process, people think that you’re delivering value; if you’re the sole bidder, people always think you’re taking advantage and puffing up the price.
Now, the fact that EADS could actually win the competition is a downside. But I also know that Boeing feels that it’s presenting the plane that meets the specs the best and at the best cost, so I feel good about our chances. And I feel good about the great work that the U.S. Tanker 2010 Coalition is doing to help those chances. So, bring it on, EADS. See you on judgment day.*
*Just to clarify, I mean judgment day when the Air Force selects the tanker contract, not when the messiah comes. Although some people might argue that receiving illegal government subsidies to build airplanes doesn’t bode well for your chances on that day either!