February 12, 2014
Airbus has revised its Asia-Pacific demand outlook upwards by almost 1,000 units over 20 years, reflecting the strong growth the manufacturer expects in the region. The company believes a total of around 10,000 additional aircraft will be needed here to cope with an annual increase in demand of close to 6%. “This is where the action will be in the coming years,” Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier said on the opening day of the Singapore airshow.
According to Airbus, the manufacturer has received 82% of the Asia-Pacific orders in terms of units in 2013 (and 68% in terms of aircraft value). “This market heavily partners with Airbus,” Chief Operating Officer Customers John Leahy says. Of the 10,000 additional aircraft, around 800 will be in the very large aircraft (A380) category, Leahy believes. Airbus may announce another order for the type at the airshow, Leahy indicated without providing further details.
However, it is the low cost carriers that drive up unit demand. Their market share in terms of seat capacity was only 2% in 2003, but it is at 25% now and at 58% in Southeast Asia. According to Leahy, the A320neo currently has a market share of 78% in the region in terms of orders. The first aircraft is to be delivered to Qatar Airways in the second half of 2015.
Bregier says Airbus’ research activities are likely to “slow down slightly” when work on the A320neo, the A350-1000 and -800 is ramping down. The manufacturer has “no short- and medium-term plans to stretch the A350 further” as had been indicated by Leahy earlier. “But we can well envisage additional members of the A350 family,” Bregier confirms. He cautions that “my engineers have too many ideas” playing down the idea of reengining the A380. In the short term, Airbus is looking at options to make better use of the aircraft’s existing cabin. The manufacturer has been lobbying its customers hard to look at denser layouts that would bring three-class seating to 550 and beyond. Emirates is looking at an 11-abreast configuration for economy on the main deck, but not all carriers are following. Etihad, which is taking delivery of its first A380 in December, will present the interior plans in May representing an upgrade to its inflight product that will also be applied to the Boeing 787 due to arrive from December. “You have seen nothing yet,” Etihad’s President and CEO James Hogan said on the sidelines of the show referring to his A380 plans.
Separately, Bregier made clear more industrial partnerships are near for Asia-Pacific. “(The final assembly line in) Tianjin has delivered. We will extend this cooperation for a long time and will move to A320neo assembly,” he says.