Airbus and Boeing looking to Asia-Pacific region for orders

Business Materials 17 February 2008 08:07 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - The inaugural Singapore Airshow opens Tuesday with rival manufacturing giants Airbus and Boeing competing for orders in the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region amid an expected slowdown in world travel.

More than 800 companies from 42 countries are exhibiting at the six-day event including leaders in the commercial, military, general aviation and space sectors.

Boeing said it will unveil purchase orders for 100 planes amounting to 8 billion dollars from South-east Asian carriers, while Airbus has remained mum about deals before the event.

Singapore Airlines has been flying the A380 superjumbo between the city-state and Sydney since October and service to London starts in mid-March.

The show "provides Boeing with an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the Asia-Pacific market and to showcase the products and services that are important to our customers in the region," senior vice president Tom Downey said.

"It also serves as an important forum to examine progress on industry-wide issues like the environment."

Delays in deliveries of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner have prompted analysts to question if sales will be affected. Boeing has already said it will compensate Air India for the delay in delivery of the plane.

The International Air Transport Association has revised global profits for 2008 for the aviation industry down from 7.9 billion dollars to 5 billion dollars.

The credit crunch in the United States and fears of a recession triggering a worldwide slowdown have dampened the mood for grandiose pronouncements.

"I would say our mood for this year is cautiously optimistic," sid Marwan Lahoud, chief strategy and marketing officer for the European Aeronautics Defence and Space Company, the parent firm of Airbus.

"Aviation is a cyclic business and we are prepared to cope with a changing environment," he said.

The last air show in Singapore was held in 2006 and garnered 15.2 billion dollars in plane orders.

Organized by Reed Exhibitors, the 2007 show moved to Hong Kong over disagreements with the Singapore government and was held in September.

With the government's support for a new exhibition in Singapore, the site occupies 30 hectares, nearly 40 per cent larger than the previous one.

"I am not going to chase numbers," said Jimmy Lau, managing director of Singapore Airshow & Events. "To me, it is more important how many deals are made, irrespective of the dollar value.

While the Hong Kong show focused on access to the China market, considerable military might was absent because US companies are prohibited from selling weapons to China.

Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin are showcasing a wide array of planes and innovations in Singapore.

"We are strongly committed to our Asian customer base, and Singapore is an important market in which we have considerable capabilities to offer," said John Brooks, president of Northrop Grumman International Inc.

"Our capabilities across the company are well matched to meeting the region's growing defence and aerospace requirements," he said.