The World's Fastest-Growing Plane Market Is About To Go On A Shopping Spree

Singapore airshow 2014 south korea air force black eaglesREUTERS/Edgar SuSouth Korea Air Force’s Black Eagles perform a manoeuvre during an aerial display ahead of the Singapore Airshow

When the Singapore Airshow opens tomorrow, the attention of the aviation industry will turn to Asia, the fastest-growing market on the planet.

Between 2013 and 2032, the Asia Pacific region, including China and India, will demand nearly 13,000 new aircraft worth $US1.9 trillion, according to Boeing’s Current Market Outlook. 36% of the world’s new planes will go to the region.

At the Dubai Airshow, held in November, airlines ordered $US206 billion worth of new planes — an air show record. But while Asia is the bigger market, don’t expect to see numbers matching those set in Dubai.

Vietnamese, Indian, and Thai airlines are expected to finalise orders for about 100 Airbus and Boeing jets worth $US12 billion, according to Reuters.

Part of the reason those figures are so far below what we saw in Dubai is that Southeast Asia, home to many of the airlines expected to place orders in Singapore, is all about low-cost carriers (LCCs). Those airlines serve a growing demand for short flights within the region. So they don’t buy expensive super jumbo jets; they opt for cheaper single-aisle planes.

According to the Centre for Aviation (CAPA), there are more than 25 LCCs operating in Southeast Asia. In 2003, they made up for 3.3% of the region’s capacity. Now they cover 57.4%. More than half the planes in service in the region are single-aisle jets, while 24% are twin-aisles.

That trend isn’t going to change anytime soon. This chart, from Boeing’s Outlook, shows that airlines in the area have a huge backlog of planes on order — 50% bigger than the region’s current fleet — and most of those will be single aisle aircraft like the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320:

This market is part of the reason Boeing is building 737s faster than ever, and looking into pushing its production rate even higher.

Don’t rule out orders for some big jets, however. Airbus expects that in the next two decades, 36% of planes ordered by Asian carriers will be twin-aisles, as “more than 50% of the new long-haul routes created between 2013 and 2032 will be connected to Asia-Pacific.”

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