'Growth' is the trend at Singapore Airshow

The Singapore Airshow kicked off this week, restricted to industry movers and shakers ahead of the public aerobatics show this weekend.

But from the myriad of suits at Singapore's Changi Exhibition Centre, some interesting trends in consumer aviation have emerged. Asian aviation is going to be big.

The biggest player is likely to be China, which has grabbed most of the attention at the show. Most notably, the Commercial Air Corporation of China (COMAC) unveiled its C919 aircraft for the first time outside of China, a 190-seat aircraft that is due for delivery in 2016. By using an aluminium alloy airframe, China believes it can create lightweight, more economical and faster aircraft, potentially a lower price, which would make it more attractive to Asia's developing air market.

In a world dominated by European and US rivals Boeing and Airbus, the C919 has the potential to shake up the industry. It will compete directly with the A320 and Boeing 737 in Asia, the fastest growing aviation market in the world. State-owned COMAC may be the only company in the world with the resources and potential customers to attempt a challenge, and that is exactly what it intends to do; officials told media outlets that they intend to carve a ten percent market share with the new aircraft.

However, that doesn't mean that Airbus and Boeing intend to be left behind in Asia. Airlines in Asia Pacific will acquire 8,000 new aircraft over the next 20 years, says Airbus, with passenger traffic growing at an average yearly rate of 5.9 percent. Within 20 years, Asia will overtake the West as the world's largest air transport market and Asian airlines will carry 30 percent of passengers globally.

As the economy recovers, airlines have been ordering to fill this demand. Hong Kong Airlines ordered six new Airbus aircraft at the show, enabling it to schedule new services between Hong Kong and the Middle East/Europe. Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong's flag carrier, is also expected to up the number of flights in and out of the country. Garuda, Indonesia's flag-carrier has also announced that it intends to expand its services to Europe and will nearly double its fleet by 2014.

The Singapore Airshow runs through February 7.

www.singaporeairshow.com

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