Plane makers stick to bullish forecasts

Plane makers stick to bullish forecasts

Hyderabad: Braving a slowdown in the Indian aviation business, Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS, the world’s two largest commercial plane makers, said they continue to be bullish and will not revise aircraft sales forecast here even as Kingfisher Airlines Ltd said it had sold half of its wide-bodied, long-haul aircraft fleet before delivery slated for this fiscal year.

Kingfisher, which was to induct five A330 and five A340 planes, also froze any widebodied craft delivery until 2010. The airline first sold three aircraft to Nigeria’s Arik Air, and Airbus’ Kiran Rao said on Thursday that two other A340s have also been sold to “another carrier", which he declined to name. That leaves Kingfisher with five A330s, two of which are flying the Bangalore-London route.

No aircraft maker announced any new orders in the first two days of the ongoing Hyderabad air show.

John Leahy, chief operating officer of Airbus, said his company will not revise its India forecast of 992 planes made for the next 20 years, taking the Indian fleet size to around 719 by 2016 and 1200 by 2026. Boeing, too, said the current scenario was temporary. “This is a temporary situation that will go away in six to nine months. There are no cancellations from Indian carriers. We have made our plane selling forecast on long term basis and still we hold that," Boeing commercial airplanes’ sales vice-president Dinesh A. Keskar said.

Earlier this year, Boeing revised its forecast for India upwards: to 1,001 planes between 2008 and 2027 from 911 between 2007 and 2026.

“The biggest concern for Indian aviation is overcapacity, overcapacity and overcapacity. Indian carriers should streamline their network in such a way that there is a balance in demand and supply," Keskar added.

Referring to customer SpiceJet Ltd lifting Rs150 congestion surcharge on every ticket and lowering fares, Keskar said: “Lowering prices will not bring spicy results. I am advocating high fares but competitive and healthy fares."

Small aircraft maker Bombardier was the only one admitting it was seeing some cancellations. Vice-president (sales Asia Pacific-commercial aircraft) Trung Ngo said the airline has received two cancellation requests. “In India, airlines are in the process of reducing their capacity. Now they will have re-look their business models to assess the viability," he said.

Bombardier makes 70-100 seater planes.

A slowdown in global aviation is set to result in airlines shifting from high-capacity planes to low-capacity narrow-body aircraft of 70-120 seats, predicted Orlando J. F. Neto, managing director-Asia Pacific of Embraer, the world’s third largest commercial aircraft maker.

C.R. Sukumar contributed to this story.