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AIRSHOW-Airbus says Asia-Pacific will be key driver of growth

Siva Govindasamy and Tim Hepher
Tuesday, 11 Feb 2014 | 3:48 AM ET

SINGAPORE, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Airbus claimed bragging rights as the Asia-Pacific's dominant aircraft supplier on Tuesday, saying the region's fast growing economies and rising passenger demand will continue to drive demand over the next 20 years.

The European planemaker said that in 2013, it won 80 percent of all new business in the Asia-Pacific with 379 firm orders. It also delivered 331 new aircraft, or over half of all new planes that entered into service with the region's airlines, it added.

Speaking at the Singapore Airshow, senior executives from the European planemaker added that they were optimistic about more orders from the region's full-service carriers and budget airlines despite ongoing concerns about the health of emerging markets, many of which are located in the Asia-Pacific.

"The message from me is very clear. This (Asia-Pacific) is where the action will be for the industry in the coming years," Fabrice Bregier, head of Airbus planemaking division, said at a news conference.

There is demand for 11,000 aircraft worth $1.8 trillion in the 20 years to 2032, said Airbus. The total fleet size is expected to more than double to over 12,130 jets, based onaverage annual traffic growth of 5.8 per cent and replacement of nearly 3,770 aircraft in service today, it added.

Boeing projected similar figures on Monday.

Growing urbanisation means that 25 of the 89 mega cities in 2032 will be in Asia-Pacific, where there will also be 90 cities with more than one million passengers, said the company.

China will also overtake the United States as the world's largest domestic airline market by 2032, said Airbus sales chief John Leahy.

"There is no doubting the importance of the Asia-Pacific market both today and in the future," he added.

Even though airlines from the the emerging markets account for an increasingly large portion of its order book, Bregier said that he is not too concerned about the current worries about that market segment.

Airbus is also looking for more partnerships with companies in the region, said Bregier.

In China, where the company has a final assembly line in Tianjin for the current generation of the A320 family of aircraft, he added there remains the possiblity of assembling the upgraded re-engined A320neo variant.

Airbus has also been promoting a "regional" variant of its A330 widebody aircraft, which it says will suit services between high-demand slot-restricted airports in countries like China.

Airbus is also on track to deliver its first A350 to Qatar Airways by the end of 2014, said Bregier.

The company also announced that Vietnamese low-cost carrier VietJetAir had placed a firm order for 63 A320 family of aircraft, and said that it would have another customer order on Wednesday.

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