Aircraft demand likely to remain flat this year

Cautious optimism" was the dominant phrase at the Singapore Airshow this week. (REUTERS)

The global economy may be climbing out of the economic recession but the air transport industry does not expect any significant pick up in orders this year, executives said yesterday.

"Cautious optimism" was the dominant phrase at the Singapore Airshow this week, the first major industry event of the year after a wretched 2009, when aircraft orders at both Boeing and Airbus were the worst in 15 years.

Amid a dearth of orders at the air show, both manufacturers said demand was likely to remain more or less flat in the current year.
"Generally we see 2010 as the year of economic recovery and 2011 a year where airlines recover to profitability and as a result of that (we see) an increase in demand for airplanes in 2012," said Randy Tinseth, Vice-President of Marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Boeing had gross orders from airlines for 263 planes in 2009, but net orders of 142 planes after cancellations. Airbus had gross orders of 310 planes and net orders of 271.

EADS subsidiary, Airbus, however, was upbeat on prospects in the longer-term and saw the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region becoming the largest air transport market in the next 20 years.

"Everybody was talking about recession, but we actually think we are coming out the other side," said Airbus' Chief Operating Officer-Customers, John Leahy, who has predicted sales of 250-300 orders this year with about 25 per cent to 35 per cent from Asia.

Airbus expects up to 10 orders for its flagship A380 superjumbo after only four last year. With a list price of about $346 million (Dh1,270m), the A380 is the world's biggest airliner. The European planemaker expects the Asia-Pacific region to purchase 8,000 new aircraft valued at $1.2 trillion by 2028, accounting for about a third of total global demand of almost 25,000 new passenger and freighter aircraft valued at $3.1trn.

But there were some spots of good news elsewhere. Brazil's Embraer said it hoped to better the 2009 sales of 30 jets, but would fall short of the 100 sold in 2008. Bell Helicoptersaid it saw revenue climbing around 16 per cent this year, backed by strong demand by the US military.

 

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