Ailing infrastructure in rapidly growing economies in the Asia-Pacific region has not kept in step with demand, creating huge challenges for airlines running out of pilots as fleets expand. Led by China and India, the region’s economies will grow 4.5 percent per year over the next 20 years, while Chinese airlines triple the size of their fleets, according to the 2013 Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook on Asia-Pacific.
Lion Air, Indonesia’s largest domestic carrier, is expanding its routes and training facilities, having ordered 20 Cessna 172s and one Boeing 737-900ER simulator, its third, to shore up an impending need for pilots. The budget carrier has placed orders for more than 500 narrowbodies with Boeing and Airbus; it currently has a fleet of 96 aircraft.
Airbus has managed to infiltrate once undisputed Boeing territory by closing a firm order from Indonesia’s Lion Air for 234 A320-family narrowbodies. Signed Monday during a special ceremony attended by French president François Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris, the contract calls for delivery of 109 A320neos, 65 A321neos and 60 current-generation A320s.
Malaysia’s National Aerospace and Defence Industries (NADI) and Lion Air parent PT Lion Grup of Indonesia plan to establish a new low-fare airline in Malaysia named Malindo Airways, the new partners announced Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur. Scheduled to start flights next May out of Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s regional transit hub, Malindo would compete directly with AirAsia–the biggest low-fare carrier in the region–in its home market of Malaysia, as well as Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, India and Japan.
With leasing companies taking positions on Boeing’s new 737 Max, the Asia-Pacific region holds the key to large narrowbody orders, according to Boeing’s senior vice president of sales for Asia Pacific and India, Dinesh Keskar. “We have three potential customers in India and more in Asia [that can take the Max] on lease or direct buy: Jet Airways, SpiceJet and even Air India Express,” he told AIN. “[The Max] can go 500 additional miles, which will be a big boon for the Asian market.”
Southeast Asia, rather than the behemoth economies of China and India, provided the bulk of the sales impetus for the 2012 Singapore Airshow. More specifically, it was from Singapore’s neighbor Indonesia that the latest wave of airline fleet modernization came when Lion Air confirmed a massive order for 201 of Boeing’s new 737Max-9 narrowbodies, plus 29 of the existing 737-900ERs.
What did last week’s Singapore Airshow tell us about the state of air transport in the Asia Pacific region? Apart from highlighting Indonesia as being a pocket of pent-up demand for fleet modernization, the honest answer is not very much.
Hawker Beechcraft has sold a pair of Hawker 900XP midsize business jets to Jakarta, Indonesia-based Lion Air, with options for two more. The airline says it intends to use the jets to meet growing demand for executive charter services throughout Asia. The aircraft are scheduled for delivery in the second and third quarters of this year.
Indonesia’s Lion Air on Thursday inked a firm contract for another 27 ATR 72-600s, raising its order total for the new Franco-Italian turboprops to 40 and making it the manufacturer’s largest customer for ATR 72s. Regional subsidiary Wings Air already operates 16 ATR 72-500s and awaits delivery on four more. Deliveries of Lion Air’s first ATR 72-600 will start in November and run into 2015, Wings Air chairman and Lion Air president Pak Ruski Kirana told a packed assemblage of reporters and officials at the ATR stand. ATR places the value of this latest order at $610 million.
The Western world’s two remaining turboprop makers each made sales headlines at last week’s Singapore Airshow, where Indonesia’s Lion Air padded ATR’s already robust order book and Bombardier’s Q400 showed signs of life following a lengthy dry spell.
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