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Airbus sees Philippine demand for bigger single-aisle aircraft

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REUTERS

HAMBURG, Germany — Airbus SE said Philippine demand for air travel is expected to grow 7% a year, expanding the market for larger single-aisle aircraft like its A321, with the size of the operating fleet needed to serve such demand tripling to about 600 planes by 2038.

“I think that we must be prepared for more sales campaigns in the Philippines because the Filipino carriers will need to increase their fleet,” Aymeric Dupront, head of Airbus’s airline marketing in Southeast Asia, Japan, India and Israel, told reporters here.

He said Airbus sees “7% traffic growth” in the Philippines each year. “This means that traffic is bound to triple between now and 20 years from now, and that is 2038,” he added.

Mr. Dupront said “more than 200” aircraft are needed to service the Philipine market today, both for domestic and international flights.

“Over the next 20 years, we see this need to triple to 600 aircraft. The traffic, if you do the math, will actually more than triple or almost quadruple, so what we see is a trend for bigger aircraft, bigger single-aisle aircraft like the A321,” he said.

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He said the Airbus fleet in the Philippines consists of about 132 aircraft, most of them from the A320 family of single-aisle twin-engine jets, of which the A321 is a high-capacity version seating up to 236 passengers. His view of the market is that the “fast pace” of passenger growth will drive all Philippine carriers to acquire larger single-aisle aircraft.

“The A321neo has been selected by all the carriers in the Philippines, and that’s the first target for deliveries for the years to come for the Filipino carriers,” he said, referring to the model version with the New Engne Option, which promises greater efficiencies compared with older versions of the A320 family of jets.

Asked about the drivers of air traffic growth in the Philippines, he said: “What we see is the very fast rise in three things: the population, first of all; the rise of the middle class, and middle class is the bulk of the passengers for air transport; and third thing is the rise of the economy and this results in this 7% domestic traffic growth.”

Reporters were in Hamburg to witness the turnover of a new Airbus jet to Malaysia’s AirAsia Group Bhd, the first of an order of up to 353 A321neos.

Philippines AirAsia, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Ricky P. Isla has said the low-cost carrier is itself currently in the process of “concretizing plans to purchase an A321neo” from Airbus.

Mr. Isla said that investing in larger additional aircraft will be “advantageous for any airline in a slot-constrained environment,” especially at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

He also noted that the A321neo, which has 50 more seats compared to the previous A320neo, provides “opportunities to offer even lower fares to flying guests.”

Other features of the A321neo include lightweight and slimline seats with a mobile phone or tablet holder; three rows with a seat pitch of 37” or above; three additional rows equipped with hot seats; USB power in every seat; and Rokki WiFi providing entertainment, shopping, and Internet speeds of up to 10MB/s.

Airbus said that the A320 family received a total of 7,000 orders from at least 110 customers globally as of the end of October. — Arjay L. Balinbin

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