Mon, Nov 26, 2012 - Page 13 News List

Aircraft sales set to stay strong: Airbus

HIGH HOPES:The company remained upbeat about next year’s prospects for the aerospace industry, as it expects passenger traffic to grow at a steady pace

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter, in TOULOUSE, FRANCE

Expected sales of the Airbus SAS A330 series aircraft may last beyond 2020, as the company aims to secure more orders from both regular and budget airlines, a company official said on Friday.

The France-based aircraft manufacturer’s statement comes as the company is to deliver a mid-range wide-body A330-300 plane to TransAsia Airways Corp (TNA, 復興航空) — one of the three listed airlines in Taiwan — in Toulouse, France, today.

“A330 is the most economical and advanced wide-body aircraft in service today,” Marino Modena, a product marketing manager for the Airbus 330 and 340 aircraft series, told a media briefing.

Modena said the company had evaluated in an internal meeting that sales momentum for the A330 family could continue for at least 10 years, attributing the optimistic forecast to the company’s continuous efforts to improve the A330 series.

Airbus has spent US$200 million per year in raising A330 series’ competitiveness by innovating and transferring its technology and systems, the company said in a report.

Other than service upgrades, these innovations successfully boosted the plane’s cost efficiency by lowering its cash operating cost by 10 percent compared with its peers, the report said.

In addition, A330 series aircraft are charactarized by their high flexibility as they can be used to operate routes between 30 minutes and 14 hours, Modena said.

That has driven up demand from regular airlines needing to replace their fleet, as well as from budget carriers focusing on regional routes, he added.

Airbus has received 2,160 orders for A330 series aircraft since it began service in 1993, with 1,283 planes already delivered to clients, the report’s data showed.

Orders for the A330-300 aircraft, which has 300 seats, reached 598 as of the end of September, accounting for more than a fourth of total orders of A330 aircrafts, data showed.

Fifty percent of A330-300 aircraft orders have been placed by carriers in the Asia-Pacific region, while European and North American carriers account for 24 percent and 18 percent respectively.

TransAsia Airlines ordered two A330-300 planes in November 2010, with one scheduled to be delivered today. The second is expected to be delivered in January. Both aircraft are set to operate on routes to Singapore and Osaka, Japan, TransAsia Airlines said in an earlier statement.

Neither Airbus nor TransAsia specified the price paid the two A330-300 planes. Sources from the companies said the listed price for an A330 is between US$150 million and US$200 million. However, airlines usually receive discounts from aircraft makers and the final price is rarely disclosed.

TransAsia is to become the third carrier in Taiwan that has added A330-300 aircraft to its fleet, after China Airlines Ltd (CAL, 中華航空) and EVA Airways Corp (EVA, 長榮航空).

Airbus remained upbeat about next year’s prospects for the aerospace industry, expecting passenger traffic to grow at a steady pace with an average annual rate of 4.7 percent between this year and 2031.

Overall, Airbus forecast a total of about 28,200 new passenger jets and freighters worth nearly US$4 trillion by all manufacturers over the next 20 years, a 1.3 percent increase from a 27,850 estimate for jet deliveries given by Airbus last year, when the aircraft maker raised its 20-year forecast by 7.7 percent.

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