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Asia plane orders drop

SINGAPORE, Feb 3 – Asia-Pacific airlines are expected to purchase some 8,000 new passenger and cargo planes worth 1.2 trillion dollars from 2009 to 2028, Airbus officials said Wednesday.

The demand represents one third of predicted global deliveries during the period, and much of it will be for larger aircraft such as the A380 super jumbo, the European manufacturer said at the Singapore Airshow.

"To meet this demand, larger aircraft will be needed to ease congestion and do more with less," John Leahy, Airbus\’ chief operating officer for customers, said in a press statement.

"This will see airlines from the region account for over 40 percent of twin-aisle deliveries and more than 50 percent of the demand for very large aircraft, such as the A380," the Airbus official said.

US rival Boeing earlier issued an equally positive forecast, estimating Asian demand at 8,900 planes worth 1.1 trillion dollars in the next 20 years.

"We think that the Asia-Pacific region will definitely lead in the recovery we see in aviation," Boeing\’s vice president for marketing Randy Tinseth told journalists on Tuesday.

"Long term, this is the biggest potential market in terms of demand of any region in the world — 31 percent of all units, 35 percent of value."

A "majority" of the orders would be for large airplanes, he said.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Monday said the Asia-Pacific region had overtaken North America as the world\’s largest air travel market, with 647 million passengers in the region taking commercial flights in 2009.

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The Singapore Airshow is taking place after a harrowing year in the global aviation industry, which lost an estimated 11 billion dollars in 2009 as a result of the financial meltdown that began in the United States.

Asian economies led by China are expected to power the recovery in the global aerospace industry.

Within Asia, China has eclipsed Japan over the past decade as the region\’s largest domestic market, with 1,400 aircraft compared with Japan\’s 540 and 5.7 million weekly seats against 2.6 million in Japan, IATA said.

Leahy said Asia\’s increasingly popular budget carriers will boost demand for smaller aircraft.

"There\’s another phenomenon that you are seeing out here in the Asia-Pacific region which we\’ve already had in the US and Western Europe and that\’s the growth of the low-cost carrier," Leahy told journalists at the show.

Last year, Asian budget carriers flew an average 1,800 kilometers (1,118 miles) per flight to 576 airports, a strong upswing from 2001 when they only averaged 700 kilometres to 48 airports, said Leahy.

"If you put that together, you can see a growth rate compounding of almost 40 percent a year," he said.

The growth of budget carriers is also being driven by the opening of new routes between secondary destinations especially in China, India and Southeast Asia, the Airbus statement said.

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