Aircraft major Airbus yesterday said 2009 will be a tough year for the aviation industry with less aircraft sold and delivered due to the continuing global meltdown.
Talking to Emirates Business at the second Aviation Outlook Middle East Summit in Abu Dhabi, Daniel Routier, Airbus' Middle East Area Sales Director, said things could start improving only by the end of the year.
"This year is going to be a difficult one. It will be difficult for everybody in the sector, including the manufacturers, airlines and suppliers. We are in the midst of a crisis. There will be less aircraft sold, and probably less aircraft delivered, though we are hoping and trying our best that all the aircraft slated for delivery this year are delivered," he said.
When asked about orders from the region this year, Routier said although Airbus is still expecting some orders, they would be less than last year or the years before. "We are expecting a few orders, but I cannot give you any figures. There are customers in the region who need to place some orders. We are pretty sure the figure for this year will also be positive, but it is not going to be a record-breaking year," he said.
Routier said last year Airbus' market share in the Middle East was 60 per cent, compared to 40 per cent for its main competitor, Boeing.
He also expects the market share of Airbus to climb to 70 per cent in the region over the coming years. Elaborating on the company's revenues in the region, he said: "Revenues tend to follow the market share figure. Actually, it is slightly higher, because most of the aircraft in this region are wide-bodied. We are talking about quite large figures – A380s, A340s and A330s, and there are some A320s as well, but less than in other regions. So the actual revenue figure is big and I reckon it is probably at least 75 per cent to Airbus."
Referring to the global recession, he said: "From what I hear and see, it is likely that things may start picking up this year, but if they don't, let us cross our fingers that it happens at least in 2010."
Discussing Airbus' performance in 2008, Routier said it was a pretty good year for the consortium, particularly in this region. "We were slightly ahead of Boeing in terms of deliveries," he said.
Routier said a large number of deliveries are planned for the Middle East in the year ahead. Last year, he said, Airbus made a few deliveries to Emirates (A380s), Air Arabia, Etihad and some other carriers.