Airbus Sees Pressure On Chinese Airlines For New Aircraft Orders

Credit: Airbus/Stefan Kruijer

SINGAPORE—Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer sees “a lot of pressure for our friends in China” to come back into the ordering cycle soon to protect its access to new aircraft. 

Scherer is still “hopeful to be able to conclude additional transactions with Chinese customers,” he said Feb. 14 ahead of the opening of the Singapore Airshow

Airbus has typically delivered around 20% of its production to China in recent years. But with no new orders having been placed for some years, the backlog is down to 250 aircraft. According to Aviation Week’s Fleet Discovery database, Airbus will deliver 80 aircraft to China in 2022, 70 in 2023 and just 38 in 2024. China “may be in a situation of undersupply for some years,” Scherer said.

He disputed that Airbus is benefiting from trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

Airbus announced two new firm orders ahead of the show: Aviation Capital Group (ACG) signed up for 20 A220s and Kuwait-based LCC Jazeera Airways placed a firm order for 28 A320neos. ACG and Jazeera each converted letters of intent (LOIs) that had been previously announced. 

Scherer is the most senior Airbus executive attending the Singapore Airshow along with Chief Technology Officer Sabine Klauke. “The airshow is on, and we applaud that,” Scherer said. While the pandemic was not over yet, “the signs are quite encouraging” as travel restrictions in the region begin to be lifted. “Our business will prosper in the region,” Scherer said.

Airbus’ latest global market forecast predicts a demand for 17,600 new aircraft in the Asia-Pacific region, among them 4,000 widebodies. Included are more than 250 new-built freighters, including around 100 for replacement of existing aircraft. Scherer expects more shipping companies to enter air cargo, moves currently spurred by the spike in demand. “[Demand] is here to stay,” Scherer said. Airbus assumes air cargo will grow by around 3.6% annually in the region, slower than passenger traffic, which it sees expanding at 5.3% per year.

Jens Flottau

Based in Frankfurt, Germany, Jens is executive editor and leads Aviation Week Network’s global team of journalists covering commercial aviation.