|The models of A320, A350 and A380 displayed at the 15th Aviation Expo in Beijing, capital of China. The four-day event kicked off at the China National Convention Center in Beijing on Sept. 25, 2013. (People's Daily Online/Yan Meng)|
The Airbus fleet in China will double to 2,000 airliners by 2020, which will bring new challenges for Airbus China's new president Eric Chen.
Chen said that Airbus has an increasing focus on helping China and its airlines develop an infrastructure that can support such growth.
It's not just about winning orders although China is hugely important to Airbus, taking fully one fifth of all the airliners that roll off its assembly lines, says Chen. "We need to help our airline customers and fleet operators cope very smoothly with growth."
Although the rate of growth is slowing for Airbus and air traffic in China, the absolute numbers are larger than ever as they are measured form a much higher installed base. Chen said that the company has 50 percent share of China's commercial airliner market. And even though the double-digit growth of the last three decades in China's air traffic will moderate to 7 or 8 percent a year over the next 30 years, that's still faster than the expected rate in Europe or in the U.S. It will translate into Airbus deliveries to China of at least 100 airliners a year.
More than 400 more aircraft are on back order (including those still awaiting government approval), and campaigns are under way with China's airlines "for several hundred more," mostly A320 family, says Chen.
In China's disciplined economic planning process, airlines are just beginning to prepare for the 13thFive Year Plan that begins in 2016. The fact they couldn't act earlier precluded them from obtaining early delivery slots on the new A320 NEO and A350 XWB wide-body airliners, but now orders will begin to emerge.
Meanwhile, nearly 200 A330s are in service or committed by China's airliners, taking a 60 percent market share in that segment, he says."It's a very, very popular airplane here," Chen says, noting that China has taken more than 20 percent of all A330 production.
The five-year plans have kept demand for airplanes in China very stable, compared to the violent upturns and downturns in the rest of the world. "That makes us confident we will end up delivering most, if not all the aircraft, ordered here," says Chen.