At Asia’s largest aviation industry event later this month in Singapore, aircraft maker Boeing Co. may not announce any big-ticket order from Indian carriers but it will unveil purchase orders for about 100 planes worth up to $8 billion (Rs31,520 crore) from South-East Asian carriers, signalling continued aircraft demand in the region.
Higher ground: A file photo of Boeing’s assembly unit in Everett, Washington. Ahead of the Singapore Airshow, the company has already received confirmation for at least 85 aircraft.
The Boeing executive in charge of plane sales declined to name the airlines placing that order, the Chicago, US-based firm’s biggest order since Dubai Aerospace Enterprise’s similar order of $10 billion at list prices late last year, but said the purchases were mostly by carriers from Malaysia and Indonesia.
Boeing has received confirmation for at least 85 aircraft already, and another 15 are likely to be finalized soon. About 90% of the orders would be the narrow-body 737-800 and 737-900 ER, besides the long-haul 777 planes.
“It would be announced on the starting day,” Boeing’s vice-president for commercial airplanes sales, Dinesh A. Keskar, said in an interview.
The six-day-long Singapore Airshow starts on 19 February, and the show organizers expect to see nearly 15,000 overseas visitors.
Airbus SAS’ expected orders at the air show are not known yet. Both Boeing and Airbus, the world’s top civilian aircraft manufacturers, have traditionally timed mega orders at air shows.
The Asia-Pacific region, including high-growth economies India and China, was second to the West Asian aviation market measured by growth in passengers flown last year, according to the International Air Transport Association (Iata), an international grouping of 240 carriers.
At list prices, which are usually discounted when the deal is signed, the orders on Boeing are expected to be around $8 billion.
“It would be a breakthrough for (Boeing),” Tony Fernandes, chief executive officer of AirAsia Bhd, which runs the region’s largest low-fare airline AirAsia, said over phone. “They haven’t had a 737 order in a long time (in this region).”
In Asia-Pacific, Airbus leads Boeing by the number of planes, helped by demand for its popular medium-haul aircraft such as the A320. Worldwide, Boeing outpaced Airbus last year by a 72-plane lead over its Toulouse, France-based rival’s 1,341 orders.
Fernandes, who runs his airline on an Airbus fleet, agreed Boeing was more popular for its wide-body aircraft with the exception of Japan. AirAsia X, an international low-fare carrier that Fernandes started in January last year, is weighing between the Boeing’s 787, also referred to as the Dreamliner, and Airbus’s 340/350 for its long-haul routes, though an announcement is unlikely this month.
In India, Boeing said, it is in talks with carriers such as Jet Airways (India) Ltd for new aircraft orders, deliveries for which can start only after 2014. “It’s not that growth is not there, but majority of the problem is overcapacity,” Keskar said. Three Indian carriers, including the state-owned Air India, use Boeing planes.
While there could be limited orders from India this year given the consolidation among airlines here, Boeing hopes to start its much-delayed aircraft maintenance centre in Nagpur by the “second quarter” of the next fiscal year as part of the 68 long-haul aircraft deal signed in 2006 with Air India.