Airlines did not sign any major deals to purchase new planes this week during the largest airshow in Asia — but aircraft manufacturers struck an optimistic tone.
The Singapore Airshow, which bills itself as "Asia's largest aerospace and defense event," continues through Sunday, but the event so far hasn't lived up to the usual role of hosting major deal announcements.
That is, the likes of Boeing and Airbus use airshows around the world to pen crucial agreements with airlines. But, as of Feb. 8, Singapore's show had only seen one commercial aircraft deal signed: Italian turboprop maker ATR said it agreed to sell four planes to Bangkok Airways.
Still, plane makers attending the annual event said they were confident that rising demand for air travel in Asia Pacific would keep their order books full for new planes in coming years.
With growing disposable income and more affordable plane fares, air travel is expected to nearly double globally in the next 20 years. The International Air Transport Association, a trade body representing airlines, predicted that in 2036, about 7.8 billion passengers would travel by air, compared to last year's expected 4 billion travelers. Most of that demand, according to IATA, would come from the Asia Pacific region.
To keep pace with that demand, airlines are likely to add new planes to their existing fleets and spend more on maintenance, repair and operations — a decision that would benefit plane makers like Boeing and Airbus.
"If you look at all the future orders, around 40 percent of the new aircraft orders are coming from airlines in Asia," Andrew Herdman, director general of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, told CNBC. "Airbus and Boeing have understood this clearly."