Original title: Dubai Air Show reappears huge civil aircraft orders, the shadow of the aviation industry epidemic has not yet dissipated
China Times (www.chinatimes.net.cn) reporter Wang Xiaoyu and Huang Xingli reporting from Beijing
As one of the few large-scale aerospace exhibitions held offline due to the impact of the new crown epidemic in the past two years, the 2021 Dubai International Aerospace Exhibition (hereinafter referred to as “Dubai Airshow”) will continue to be the same as previous editions for aircraft manufacturers to obtain large-scale orders. “stage”. However, compared with the record-setting mega-orders brought about by the previous “housing purchases” led by aviation companies in the Middle East, although there are still tens of billions of dollars in new aircraft orders at this exhibition, they are concentrated in regional aircraft. In the field of single-aisle trunk aircraft and cargo aircraft, there are very few orders for long-range wide-body passenger aircraft.
This also means that although the air transport industry is coming out of the impact of the epidemic and is beginning to regain passenger flow growth as the travel restrictions of various countries and regions are gradually lifted, it still takes time to resume international travel with truly unlimited distances. Long-distance routes The time required for recovery is much longer than the time required for short- and medium-haul routes. This is also the biggest obstacle for airlines to re-order large passenger aircraft.
“Small Plane” takes the lead
European Airbus (hereinafter referred to as “Airbus”) has gained a lot at this Dubai Airshow, with a total of 408 new aircraft orders including 269 confirmed orders and 139 committed orders.
The largest single order among them came from Indigo partner company, which announced the order of 255 A321neo series aircraft on the first day of the air show. These aircraft will be “collected” by several airlines that it has invested in.
According to relevant information released by Airbus, Hungary-based Wizz Airlines will order 102 aircraft, American Frontier Airlines will order 91 aircraft, Mexico’s Volaris Airlines will order 39 aircraft, and Chile-based JetSMART Airlines will order 23 aircraft.
One thing these four airlines have in common is that they are all low-cost airlines, and their fleets are all single-aisle trunk aircrafts, mainly short- and medium-haul routes in the region.
As a model in the A320neo series that constitutes an absolute advantage over products of the same level as the competitor Boeing, the A321neo has become the core “weapon” for Airbus to continue to expand its lead in the single-aisle market. According to a data released by Airbus not long ago, it At present, half of the reserve orders for single-channel trunk line models are the A321neo series, and the demand has far exceeded the A320neo, which has been the benchmark model in the series before.
In fact, this is also a trend in airline model selection in recent years. Among single-aisle aircraft, larger models have been sought after because of their greater flexibility in load and range, especially in terms of operational level requirements. Very high low-cost airlines are more meaningful.
The A321neo sold this time includes 27 ultra-long-range A321XLRs that are highly expected by Airbus. This type of aircraft already has the ability to operate intercontinental long distances to a certain extent, but it is different from those commonly used to operate long-distance routes. Compared with its wide-body aircraft, its operating cost is lower and its requirements for passenger flow are not so demanding. Therefore, it has become a good choice for low-cost airlines interested in entering intercontinental routes.
Airbus also has 111 orders from its long-standing supporter, ALC Aviation Leasing. When Airbus first launched the A321XLR, ALC took the lead in placing an order to show its support. A variety of passenger aircraft products ranging from models to long-range wide-body aircraft, including 25 A220-300, 55 A321neo, 20 A321XLR and 4 A330neo.
From the perspective of Airbus’s order structure, A321neo and derivative models are the “key” for Airbus to reopen the sales of new aircraft in the post-epidemic era. A total of 330 orders have been obtained, which exceeds 80% of the total order volume.
In contrast, in the past two years, the American aircraft manufacturer Boeing Civil Aircraft Group (hereinafter referred to as “Boeing”) has been entangled with a series of issues such as the 737MAX go-around, resumption of production, 787 suspension, and the development and manufacturing of new 777X models. It’s a lot of low-key. Although it has created many brilliant achievements at the past Dubai Airshow, under the influence of the epidemic and its own problems, it can only be called a small gain in terms of orders.
Boeing and the Indian start-up airline Akasa Airlines have reached a new order for a total of 72 737MAX series models. For this ill-fated aircraft, it has experienced air crashes, grounding, suspension of production and large-scale in the past few years. After unsubscribing and other blows, with the resumption of operations in most parts of the world, it has gradually begun to walk out of difficult times. Although the number of new orders this time is small, it is a boost for Boeing, which is working hard to get the 737MAX project back on track.
According to information disclosed by relevant Boeing sources during the Dubai Airshow, the largest 737-10 model in its 737MAX series has undergone enhancements to the flight control system. It is planned to start flight test work next year and is scheduled to be in 2023. Put into commercial operation in the year.
Even before the grounding of the 737MAX, Airbus has established a huge advantage in large single-aisle models with the hot sales of its A321neo series and derivative models, and has gradually caught up with and surpassed its competitors in the narrow-body aircraft market. . Therefore, even if the 737-10 enters the commercial market, it is difficult to shake the position of competing models from the current order volume. This is why Boeing has been considering the development of a new model for many years to compete with the A321neo series. Reasons for the “middle market” demand for wide-body machines.
The wide-body machine market is still weak
For Boeing, in the past few years, its resources have been concentrated on the development and manufacturing of the new long-range wide-body model 777X series. This time, Boeing also brought a 777-9 prototype to Dubai for a series of Demonstration flight, at the same time after the end of the air show will also fly to several customer base locations for “roadshows.”
In fact, as the world’s largest passenger aircraft after the A380 and 747-8 were discontinued, the 777X was announced at the Dubai Air Show in 2013 and received a total of 259 orders at that time, with a total value of nearly 100 billion US dollars. Recorded order size.
However, time has passed, and in the face of market uncertainty in the post-epidemic era, the “landlord” Emirates, which has always liked to place huge orders at home, has also begun to act cautiously.
At this Dubai Airshow, Emirates only purchased two additional 777F freighters and did not sign new passenger aircraft orders. This is certainly related to its current fleet size and reserve orders, but it also reflects to a large extent that airlines are not optimistic about the recovery of the long-haul route market in the future.
During this Dubai Airshow, only the four A330neo ordered by ALC and the 787-8 ordered by Tanzania Airlines were wide-body passenger aircraft orders. In contrast, regional aircraft manufacturers Embraer and ATR received orders. Orders must be more.
In contrast, the freighter market has become another protagonist. Airbus announced the launch of its long-rumored A350F project in Dubai and won the first batch of 7 launch orders from ALC.
Airbus released the latest global market forecast in Dubai, outlining the gradual shift in the global market from aircraft growth to the accelerated phase-out of obsolete and fuel-efficient aircraft. The global aviation market will require approximately 39,000 new passenger and cargo aircraft in the next two decades, of which 15,250 will be used for replacement.
In Airbus’s forecast, it is believed that the development of e-commerce has promoted the demand for freight, and express freight and ordinary freight are driving the freight market. Express freight is expected to grow by 4.7% each year, while the expected growth rate of ordinary freight, which accounts for about 75% of the freight market, is 2.7%. In Airbus’s view, the world will need about 2,440 freighters in the next 20 years, of which 880 are new freighters.
For Airbus, which has long been a “accompaniment” role in the cargo aircraft field, it is not easy to shake up the advantages that Boeing has established in the cargo market for decades. Boeing has an absolute advantage in the original freighter market and the modified freighter market. Taking the Chinese market as an example, Airbus freighter only accounts for 2% of the market share, while Boeing is expanding its leading edge through the establishment of multiple new passenger and cargo production lines in China .
As the air cargo market entered a prosperous cycle during the epidemic, airlines have also increased their investment in cargo fleets. In addition to purchasing new cargo planes, it also includes the conversion of passenger planes into the cargo business. However, the huge gap in air cargo capacity also makes the market demand unable to be fully satisfied, and the freight rate continues to rise.
This is obviously a stimulus for Airbus, which is far behind its competitors in the freighter market. Therefore, in addition to fully launching the retired passenger aircraft conversion freighter business, the A350F project obviously also hopes to be in the original freighter market, especially the Boeing The large cargo aircraft market firmly controlled by the 747-8F and 777F has opened a “gap”.
Compared with the current long-range wide-body cargo fleet operated by global airlines, the biggest advantage of the freighter model derived from the A350xwb series platform, which first flew in 2013, is that it is a younger model that uses more new technologies. . Compared with the competitive model 777F, if it can achieve the same business load, it can rely on the advantages of the updated engine in terms of emissions, which will attract the airlines currently facing huge zero-carbon pressure. But Boeing also has a new freighter plan to deal with possible competition. The 777XF model, which is rumored to be based on the 777X, is expected to be officially launched after reaching an agreement with the startup customer.
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