SINGAPORE: Airlines in Asia Pacific, on a sprint to modernise their fleet, are driving demand for widebody aircraft such as the A330 neo (new engine option) as well as the A350-900 and A350-1000.
Airbus President of Asia Pacific Anand Stanley said airlines in the region would need some 19,000 new aircraft over the next 20 years of which almost 3,800 is widebody aircraft.
"Asia Pacific is the widebody (aircraft) leader because there are high populations and long distances (to travel).
"The expected demand for widebody aircraft in the Asia Pacific region is almost 25 per cent higher than the last forecast from Airbus in 2022, reflecting the strong recovery in international air travel and the accelerated fleet replacement plans of airlines in the region," he said at in a media briefing at the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) 67'th Assembly of Presidents.
He said there are several leading airlines in the region that have announced orders to replace their existing aircraft with the latest generation, more fuel-efficient aircraft types.
The airlines include Malaysia Airlines Bhd that ordered 20 new A330-900 neo in July 2022 that will replace the carrier's existing A330 ceo (current engine option) as well as Philippine Airlines' order for nine A350-1000 in June this year, to name a few.
Australia's flag carrier, Qantas, also ordered 12 A350s in August this year as part of its fleet renewal program, known as Project Fysh to replace the existing 28 A330s.
The widebody airplanes are expected to arrive from between July 2026 and June 2027 and into the next decade.
Stanley said airlines are looking at the efficiency of the aircraft as they renew their fleet with fuel burn an important factor as well as in-flight experience and full internet connectivity.
"In-flight experience is what passengers look at.
You don't realise it. You don't notice it but there's an intrinsic experience you go through with things such as the airspace cabin.""We don't set the gold standard. We want to set the customer standard for consumer experience," Stanley said, adding that the A330neo and A350 are favourites for fleet replacement, among airlines in Asia Pacific.
Stanley said there are currently more demand for airplanes and buyers, than the availability of aircraft in the market.
"It's not a situation where there are aircraft on the ground and no one is able to pick them up because they're waiting for financing. It's the opposite. There's more demand than the supply of aircraft. When an aircraft comes into the market, everyone competes to get it," Stanley said.