Home' Asian Aviation : AAV March 2010 Contents 4 Asia nAviation | MARCH 2010
February saw Singapore play host to Asia’s biggest air
show, perhaps the first to witness a renewed optimism
in the aviation and aerospace industry after the gloom
generated by the global economic crisis (see report, pages
And indeed, much of the industry’s optimism focuses on
the Asia-Pacific region, where key markets such as China
proved more resilient to the turmoil in the financial
markets than America or Europe. At the Sing apore show,
aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus both predicted
a recovery in the airline industry, led by Asia.
Within 20 years, Airbus said at the show, Asia will take
over from Europe and the United States as the world’s
larg est air transport market. Airlines based in the region
will by then carry more than 30 percent of all global
passenger traffic and about 40 percent of air cargo,
predicted Airbus’s chief salesman, John Leahy.
The Airbus forecast echoed similar predictions previously
made by Boeing. The European manufacturer said Asian
airlines will require about 8,000 ne w passeng er and carg o
aircraft over the next two decades, with a value of about
US$1.2 trillion . That demand is just under a third of the
predicted worldwide demand for almost 25,000 new
a ircraft, with a total value of about US$3.1 trillion.
The manufacturer also expe cts passeng er and carg o traffic
growth in the region to significantly outpace the global
average rate. Asian passenger traffic will probably grow
at 5.9 percent per annum against the global 4.7 perc ent
average, while cargo demand will rise by 6.3 percent per
year, compared with 5.2 percent growth worldwide.
Airbus reckons the bulk of the new aircraft delivered to
the region will be single-aisle models – 4,560 of them, all
told – alongside 2,570 widebody types and 880 very-large
aircraft. The Asian freighter fleet, meanwhile will expand
to five times its current size, numbering as many as 1,500
aircraft in 20 years’ time.
These kinds of predictions are typical of the slightly
awestruck western view of Asia, with analysts commonly
referring to the idea that this will be the ‘Pacific Century ’.
Not ever yone is convinced, however.
“If you’d like to be a pundit, one surefire way to start is
by genuflecting toward Asia,” says Teal Group aerospace
analyst Richard Aboulafia.” The problem is that the
aircraft industry listens to pundits. They influence
product-design decisions.” And that influence is not
always beneficial, he arg ues.
Everyone designing a jetliner wants a customer like
Singapore, Aboulafia says, adding : “ That’s a mistake.”
The result is products designed to meet the specific needs
of the region’s carriers at the expense of the needs of other
markets. An example would be the Airbus A340-500
and Boeing 777-200LR, which were designe d to permit
ultralong-haul ser vices such as Singapore Airlines’ 18
hour, 45 minute Singapore-Newark non-stop service,
which flies via the North Pole.
Thus far, the two models have gathered fewer than
100 orders between them. Thai Airways tried to sell its
entire fle et of four A340-500s but withdrew them from
the market because of poor resale value – one potential
buyer had offered to pay Thai as little as US$50 million
per US$180 million aircraft.
Aboulafia points out that the next generation of airliners,
too, is being optimised for the needs of long-haul trans-
“ The 787 and A350XWB are baselined for airlines that
need lots of range, even if the operating economics are
much worse for routes shorter than 6,000 nautical miles,”
he argues. “I’ll bet a 1995-model [Boeing] 767-300ER
will have better costs for many transatlantic flights than
the all-ne w 787. Ditto a 1995-model A330-300 relative
to the all-ne w A350XWB.”
The manufacturers’ lack of enthusiasm for catering to
shorter-haul operators is evidenced by the death of the
787-3 and Airbus’s decision not to build a unique, smaller
wing for the A350XWB-800 variant – which will now
have a bigger, heavier wing than it needs.
Aboulafia wonders whether the major manufacturers will
even pay attention in future to the needs of non-Pacific
operators that would be better off with aircraft that have
smaller wings. Some day, he speculates, after China has
gone into production of its ARJ21 regional jet and 168-
190 seat narrowbody C919 airliner, it may decide to
pursue the twin-aisle, 4,000-5,000 nautical mile range
requirement ser ved up to now by the 767-300ER, A330-
300 and 777-200ER .
“That could be a shock to Airbus and Boeing ,” Aboulafia
says. “It would serve the pundits right – an Asian industrial
power succeeding because the western manufacturers
were too busy following the pundits’ advice and designing
planes primarily for Pacific nee ds.” ●
7/03/10 12:01 PM
7/03/10 12:01 PM
Links Archive AAV April 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page