Smaller planes in demand for Asia travel boom
By Martin Abbugao, AFP
February 17, 2014, 12:02 am TWN
SINGAPORE--Smaller passenger planes are increasingly in demand in Asia as budget carriers cash in on the region's growing middle classes by expanding their reach to less prominent cities, industry executives say.
So-called "regional" jets — short to medium-haul aircraft that generally seat under 100 passengers — were among the best-sellers at the Singapore Airshow which ended at the weekend.
Jimmy Lau, managing director of show organizer Experia Events, said demand for smaller aircraft will rise as Asia's burgeoning middle class sustains the growth in air travel that began in metropolitan areas.
"The people who will be likely making good inroads are the Embraers and the Bombardiers who will be selling their smaller regional jets to countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia," Lau told reporters as the Airshow ended with deals totaling a record US$32 billion.
Embraer, the Brazilian plane maker, forecasts that Asia-Pacific carriers will take delivery of 1,500 new jets in the 70- to 130-seat segment over the next 20 years, with a total value of US$70 billion. This would represent nearly 20 percent of global demand.
Canada's Bombardier expects the region to get one-third of the 12,800 aircraft in the 20 to 150-seat segment it forecasts to be delivered worldwide in the next two decades.
The company's vice president for marketing Philippe Poutissou told AFP that Bombardier sold almost 80 percent of its planes to Western countries in the past.
Four-month-old Indian carrier Air Costa sprang the biggest surprise at the event when it ordered 50 E-Jets E2 planes from Brazilian manufacturer Embraer worth US$2.94 billion, with purchase rights for 50 more.
Air Costa wants to connect cities in southern India such as Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Vijayawada, as well as key secondary cities in the country's north and northwest.