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Asia's aircraft fleet 'to more than double' in next 20 years

Publication Date : 26-02-2013


Strong demand for air travel will more than double the size of Asia's aircraft fleet over the next two decades, plane-maker Airbus has predicted.

From about 4,300 planes now, the total fleet is expected to exceed 10,400 jets, said its chief operating officer (customers), John Leahy.

He told a press briefing in Singapore yesterday: "The Asia-Pacific market is where the action will be in the air transport market over the next 20 years. Growing economies, bigger cities and increasing wealth will see more people flying, driving the need for larger and more efficient aircraft."

Full-service carriers like Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific as well as budget players like AirAsia and Tiger Airways will continue to expand their fleets, industry watchers said.

Airbus estimates that Asian carriers will take delivery of about 9,870 new passenger and cargo jets over the next two decades, accounting for more than a third of the global total.

China and India are the key markets to watch, Leahy said. Industry watchers said that much of the growth within Asia will be driven by budget and regional airlines.

Airbus projects that more than six in 10 aircraft to be delivered to the region over the next 20 years will be single-aisle planes - the workhorse of budget carriers.

Experts said the challenge will be to ensure there is adequate infrastructure to cater for the predicted growth.

Changi Airport, which handled a record 51.2 million passengers last year, plans to build Terminal 4 where the Budget Terminal was located, as well as expand Terminal 1.

Runway capacity is also being enhanced, with shorter intervals between take-offs and shorter runway maintenance closures, among other measures. A steering committee led by the Transport Ministry is looking at the airport's long-term infrastructure needs.

Making a push for big planes like the Airbus 380 superjumbo, Leahy said: "If traffic is going to double, we cannot just double the number of flights. We just do not have room at airports like Changi to do that."

SIA operates 19 A-380s and has recently ordered five more.


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