Home' Asian Aviation : AAV May 2019 Contents AsianAviation | May 2019 19
ing in the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia and in the
South Pacific. “ We are focussing quite a lot on Australia right now
and with Virgin using the ATR72-600 on the Sydney and Melbourne
to Canberra route the Australian market is getting a feel for what a
modern turboprop feels like,” he added.
ATR is investigating demand for a short take-off and landing
(STOL) version of the ATR42 and are currently collecting interest
from the airlines for presentation to the ATR board. “ This is a unique
proposition for an airline to go into an 800 metre airfield with a
pressurised aircraft that can fly 300 knots cruise speed and have
two to three hours of flight time,” Potocki explained.
ATR has enjoyed success in India with four customers, Alliance
Air, Indigo, Jet Airways and True Jet, operating the aircraft, although
there is currently the issue of the ongoing viability of Jet Airways.
“I would say that India is always a complex market for anyone,
but the demand is there. Regulations are something that everybody
always has to comply with and the pilot shortage is a challenge for
airlines in India,” Potocki said.
China is another attractive market with ATR forecasting a need
for over 1,000 turboprops in the next decade. They see the best fit
for ATR is the provinces on the fringe of China, particularly
in the southwest, because of their dynamic tourism and
ATR is also focussed on the freight market and the growing
opportunities from e-commerce. They have two different offer-
ings, one based on used passenger ATRs converted to cargo
and the other is the ATR72-600F, which can carry close to nine
tonnes of containerised freight.
When Airbus took over the C-Series programme from Bombar-
dier in July 2018, there was much chatter and speculation around
the merits of the decision. Some eight months later Korean Air is
the only airline flying the renamed A220 in the region and Airbus is
struggling to make ground in Asia-Pacific.
Airbus executive vice president for Asia, Jean-Francois Laval, be-
lieves that the Asia-Pacific region presents many opportunities for
the A220 and that the aircraft fits comfortably alongside the longer-
range A320 family. “ The Asia-Pacific region is the fastest-growing
aviation market and we certainly see demand for the A220 in this
region,” he said. “ The A220 is a clean sheet design and the only
aircraft purpose-built for the 100 to 150-seat market.”
Airbus estimates that in this segment there will be demand for
7,000 aircraft globally over the next 20 years, with 1,750 of those in
Asia-Pacific. The A220 has a range up to 5,920 kilometres which
Airbus believe makes it the ideal complement to the A320, the most
popular single-aisle aircraft in the region. “Around 90 percent of
the A220 customers will also operate the A320 family,” Laval said,
pointing to airlines including SWISS, Delta, JetBlue, Air Canada,
Korean Air and EgyptAir.
The availability of two variants, the 100 to 135-seat A220-100 and
the 130 to 160-seat A220-300 means the aircraft suits a range of
carriers, be they full-service, low-cost or regional carriers. “ We be-
lieve the A220 offers the lowest risk for airlines opening routes and
is the best choice for growing regional airlines. It offers unmatched
flexibility for many airline business models and is the best network
builder,” Laval said.
The launch customer in the region was Korean Air, which deploys
their 10 aircraft on both domestic and international services on a mix
of new and existing routes. “ The Korean Air aircraft have a two-class
configuration, which supports the carrier ’s full-service operations,”
he said. “ This allows for exceptional flexibility in route development
as well as the widest Economy Class seat of any single-aisle aircraft
and the largest overhead stowage in its class.”
As at the end of March, there have been 536 A220 aircraft ordered
and yet only two airlines from the Asia-Pacific region have placed
orders, Korean Air for 10 aircraft and Air Vanuatu for four.
Of the backlog of 471 aircraft it is only the four for Air Vanuatu
that are destined for this region, which seems to indicate that Airbus
faces a real sales challenge in what is becoming a crowded and
well-catered for regional aircraft market.
It would be easy to think that Bombardier is looking for the exit
door as far as regional aircraft are concerned. In 2018 it announced
the sale, due to close in late 2019, of its turboprop commercial aircraft
business to Longview Aviation Capital for US$225 million.
Then in January, CEO Alain Bellemare, told Reuters that Bombar-
dier is exploring all strategic options for the loss-making CRJ regional
jet programme, including a potential sale, but its immediate focus is
to win orders and cut costs.
All of this is against the backdrop of the sale of the C-Series
programme to an Airbus-controlled consortium that Bombardier
still holds a 31 percent stake in. Further clouding the picture is the
announcement in February of a new CRJ variant, the CRJ550, with
launch customer United Airlines committing to 50 aircraft and de-
liveries commencing in late 2019.
In April, Bombardier announced it had a firm purchase agreement
from an unidentified customer for six Q400 turboprops, valued at
US$202 million and on 11 April it celebrated the delivery of the first
of two Q400 aircraft to Qazaq Air of Kazakhstan.
Ross McKeand is head of airline marketing Asia-Pacific and China
for Bombardier Commercial Aircraft and he spoke about the man-
ufacturer ’s continuing role in the region. “Bombardier continues to
aggressively market the Q400 in Asia,” he said. “ We are currently
involved in many new and used placement opportunities and we
◀ The 11 April 2019 delivery ceremony for the Qazaq Air Q400.
We believe the A220 offers the lowest risk for
airlines opening routes and is the best choice
for growing regional airlines.
JEAN-FRANCOIS LAVAL, AIRBUS
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