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MARCH 2018

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A different Singapore Airshow

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by CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, TOM BALLANTYNE  

March 1st 2018

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It is unusual for an international air show to conclude without a single order from major airlines, especially in a region forecast to control 42% of the commercial aviation market in the next two decades. Read More » But it happened last month at the 2018 Singapore Airshow.

In 2014, airlines wrote orders for new jets worth $32 billion at the biennial show. Two years ago, they signed up for new planes valued at $12.7 billion.

The fact of the matter is that in 2018 Asia-Pacific carriers had already finalized purchases for their fleet upgrades in the short to medium term. They are now readying to accept a long line of new airplanes from manufacturers.

On the Mainland, China Southern Airlines, the region’s largest carrier, has 296 jets on order, including B787-9s and A350-900s. China Eastern has ordered 257 planes and Air China 172.

Pacesetter Singapore Airlines has 49 B787-10s and 20 B777-9s coming its way and there are hundreds of narrow-bodies being readied for delivery to low-cost carriers in the region, including the AirAsia Group, India’s IndiGo and Lion Air in Indonesia.

Other Asia-Pacific airlines, such as Air New Zealand and the Qantas Group, are assessing next generation aircraft that will facilitate their network expansion. Their choices and consequent orders will not be decided until year end or in 2019.

This year’s Singapore Airshow was significant in that it revealed the industry is a different beast from a decade ago. The region’s carriers, and their peers worldwide, have become far more analytical in their fleet planning.

Happily, the cycle of capacity shortfall, booming orders and overcapacity, followed by cancellations and deferrals appears to be history. It would be overstating the case to say the industry has entered a period of unrestrained financial rationality, but for the first time in many years it was business written by the services and digital sectors of OEMs that dominated the headlines in Singapore.

Come Farnborough in July we will find out if Singapore was simply a pause in orders as airlines assess their needs for future network development.

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