Asia-Pacific is the world’s biggest aviation market for commercial aircraft with the region expected to be the biggest driver of demand up to 2035.
For this reason, aircraft manufacturers and airline companies have their eyes set on the Asia-Pacific region, which analysts say, will account for more than half of the new passenger traffic in the next 15 years.
Recent reports, however, suggest flagship projects of Asian plane-makers have suffered repeated setbacks and they face a tough time breaking into a market dominated by established players.
Two Asian plane-makers based in China and Japan have spent huge sums at building jets, but progress has been slow.
Obviously, an aircraft development requires mammoth investment, years of painstaking development, and compliance with rigorous safety standards.
Asia’s two biggest economies are home to myriad companies making hi-tech goods, from cars to smartphones, which in many cases have succeeded in rivalling Western firms.
The companies at the forefront of the Asian drive, Japan’s Mitsubishi and Chinese state-owned manufacturer COMAC, have both seen their flagship projects delayed for years, an AFP dispatch said.
The recent airshow in Singapore, considered Asia’s biggest– as ever – was dominated by European plane-maker Airbus, US manufacturer Boeing and a handful of smaller, mostly Western manufacturers.
Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp was showing off a mock-up of the interior of its SpaceJet, the first version of which was originally due for commercial rollout in 2013.
After repeated delays, Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways had finally been due to receive the first of the SpaceJet M90 aircraft in the middle of this year.
But the model suffered its sixth delay this month, with the first delivery now expected next year at the earliest.
Meanwhile, state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC)’s flagship jet has been delayed at least five years and analysts believe it is likely to miss its 2021 schedule for the plane’s first delivery to a customer.
The single-aisle C919 is designed to compete with the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, the favoured workhorse of budget carriers.
The manufacturer says there are 815 of the planes on order, largely from domestic carriers.
But winning approval from US and European regulators, key to obtaining other international go-ahead, will be challenging, some analysts say. Another challenge will be to gain public acceptance outside their home markets - China and Japan, points out Shukor Yusof, founder of Malaysia-based aviation consultancy Endau Analytics.
Air travel in the Asia-Pacific has seen a boom in the last two decades where increasing affluence combined with cheaper flights mean the numbers of people flying regularly is soaring.
By 2035, an additional 1.8bn annual passengers will be transported to, from and within Asia Pacific for an overall market size of 3.1bn. The region will also grow by 4.7% annually, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Demand for new aircraft is expected to exceed 39,000 over the next 20 years, with 42% of the deliveries to carriers in Asia, according to an Airbus forecast.
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