Boeing is looking to springboard off its strong position in Singapore to dramatically increase its presence in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia and Vietnam where it sees expanding opportunities across its commercial, defense and services businesses.

Commercial

Boeing predicts that the region will account for more than 10% of total global civil airliner demand, which represents more than 4,200 units worth $650 billion, over the next 20 years. With Singapore at its heart, Southeast Asia has seen annual traffic growth at 6.2%, which outpaces the world’s average growth rate by 1.5%. Much of this is generated by traffic into and around Indonesia and Vietnam.

“Indonesia and Vietnam are the two markets, after Singapore, that are very high up on our scope,” says Skip Boyce, president, Boeing Southeast Asia. “In Indonesia we have a pretty good airline market share with Garuda and a vibrant relationship with Lion Air.

“In Vietnam Boeing is also optimistic of strong commercial growth,” Boyce says. “The nation has gradually expanded its fleet of Boeing-built widebodies since first leasing 767s in the 1990s and most recently introduced the 787-9 into service. Also, like Lion Air in Indonesia, we have a private sector airline there called VietJet Air. They finalized a deal for 100 MAX8s (737-8s), which is the largest aircraft purchase in Vietnam history.

“In addition, there is some talk of them wanting to go into widebodies and fly more regional routes,” he says.

“We also have got a couple of great suppliers in Vietnam and we hope to build on that,” Boyce adds, referring to the two Japanese-based local subsidiaries MHI Aerospace Vietnam (MHIVA) and Nikkiso Japan. Opened in Hanoi in 2007, MHIVA produces 737 inboard flaps and as early as 2014 delivered the 1,000th shipset produced in Vietnam. The facility also assembles 777 doors and later this year will begin producing the first units for the 777X. In 2010, Nikkiso Japan opened a facility near Hanoi which produces components for the 747 and 767; 777 thrust reverser blocker doors; and the 787 thrust reverser torque box assembly and wing fixed leading edge subassemblies.

Boeing is also building its defense business in the region. In December the manufacturer delivered the first three of eight AH-64 Apache helicopters. The supply of the attack helicopters is something of “a breakthrough,” says Boyce. “Because of previous history and sanctions from both the U.S. Administration and Congress, there have been limits on what the U.S. and Indonesia could do together on the defense front,” he says.

But relations have steadily improved since many trade relations were eased in the 1990s and, in December, this was underlined when links between the nations were described as “being one of the strongest” in the region by current U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during his first visit to Indonesia.

“They could probably use more Apaches and we are also looking at the CH-47 Chinook – these things take time to develop,” says Boyce.

Services

The company’s newly launched Boeing Global Services (BGS) business unit, which is exhibiting at the Singapore Airshow for the first time, is also poised for dramatic growth in the region, Boyce says. Providing engineering, modifications, upgrades and maintenance, BGS also incorporates Boeing AnalytX, digital services and training.

The Boeing Training and Professional Services campus at Changi is Boeing's largest pilot, technician and crew training facility in Asia.

“We have made a large local investment in Singapore with a view towards broadening it in the region, the most recent one being a joint venture with Singapore Airlines Engineering Corp. called Boeing Asia Pacific Aviation Services (BAPAS),” Boyce says.

“They are more or less the maintenance, repair and overhaul side of it and we are the intellectual property and branding side of it. Our intention is to move that from servicing just Singapore-based airlines to the broader region.

“If you want to define an area where we are going to drive innovation into platforms and products across the entire life cycle with our customers then it is going to be though BGS, and that’s one of the possibilities in BAPAS,” he adds.