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Aircraft makers see West Asian carriers leading industry pickup

Aircraft makers see West Asian carriers leading industry pickup

Dubai: Demand from West Asia carriers will top 1,400 new jets over the next 20 years, the world’s biggest plane makers said on Monday, driven by economic growth and ambitious state development plans.

Even in the near term, the requirements of West Asian carriers are expected to generate steady business for manufacturers as the region largely defies the global trend of slumping passenger travel.

“The Middle East market encompasses all aircraft segments and is a barometer for the rest of the world," said John Leahy, chief operating officer of EADS NV unit, Airbus SAS.

“The recovery begins here."

Boeing Co., the No. 2 plane maker behind Airbus, projected the region would need 1,710 new jets over the next 20 years, valued at around $300 billion (Rs14 trillion). Boeing said it expected West Asian carriers to double their fleet from 840 in 2008 to 1,860 in 2028.

Boeing said it expected passenger traffic to grow at a rate of 4.9% each year over the next 20 years.

In a presentation at the Dubai Air Show, Boeing said growth and rising incomes in emerging markets in West Asia as well as China and India would balance global aircraft demand.

Meanwhile, Airbus projected carriers in West Asia will need 1,418 new passenger aircraft, valued at $243 billion, to satisfy the demand, which is above global average.

Airlines in the region include the United Arab Emirates’ Emirates, the Arab world’s biggest airline, Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad Airways PJSC and Royal Jordanian, the only Arab carrier in the international airline One World Alliance.

Airlines around the world have been crippled by reduced spending on travel, a drop in global trade and rising oil prices. To cut their bloated cost bases, many have grounded planes and cancelled or deferred aircraft orders.

In contrast, some carriers in West Asia—especially the Gulf Arab region—have been adding to fleets and expanding routes.

Emirates said earlier on Monday it was considering placing more orders with Boeing and Airbus.

“We are in discussions... there won’t be anything at the airshow (but) we are talking to Boeing and Airbus," Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum told reporters at the air show. “It would be in the 10s of planes... I think we can say 777s (from Boeing) and could be A330s on the Airbus side."

Industry players saw airlines returning to profitability over the next two years underpinned by a recovery in global economic growth and passenger traffic.

Emirates, which bucked the downward trend in aviation with earnings surging 165% in its fiscal half-year results, said profit would be around $544.5 million for the year.

Etihad Airways said it expected revenues of about $3 billion in 2009, despite pushing back its profitability target to 2011 from 2010 due to the financial crisis.

Boeing said it expected West Asia and Asia Pacific air travel market to grow 6.3% between 2008 and 2028, and predicted that West Asian carriers alone would require around 150 freighters over the next 20 years.


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