Singapore Airshow 2016: S-E Asian airlines 'will need 3,750 new planes'

Mr Keskar, in the cockpit of a Boeing 787, says the Singapore Airshow attracts “a very high-level quality of delegates”.
Mr Keskar, in the cockpit of a Boeing 787, says the Singapore Airshow attracts “a very high-level quality of delegates”.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

With the "who's who" of the global aviation community in town for Singapore Airshow 2016, The Straits Times catches up with high-fliers to gain an insight into issues affecting the industry.

The four-day series kicks off with Boeing's senior vice-president of sales (commercial aircraft) for Asia-Pacific and India, Mr Dinesh Keskar.

Q How has the recent shake-up in the global economy affected Boeing's sales and industry forecast?

A We are monitoring the situation very carefully. Despite some slowdown, the price of oil, for example, has fallen significantly which is a positive for the industry. In this business, we don't look at the next six months or year. Our projections and forecast are for the next 20 years and prospects over the long term continue to be strong.

Q Do you expect the Asia-Pacific to continue to outstrip other regions?

A More than 38,000 planes are expected to be delivered to airlines over the next 20 years and close to 40 per cent of that is for Asian carriers. Within the region, South-east Asia continues to be an important market for Boeing and we expect airlines in this region will need 3,750 new airplanes worth US$550 billion (S$770 billion) over the next 20 years. The annual forecast projects that three-fourths of South-east Asia's new deliveries will be for growth. So yes, we expect growth in this region to stay strong.

Q With low-cost carriers growing strongly and offering mainly point- to-point fights, how will this affect major hubs like Changi Airport?

A About three in four aircraft to be delivered to South-east Asian carriers over the next 20 years will be single-aisle planes operated mainly by low-cost carriers that operate mainly point-to-point traffic. This does not mean that full-service airlines like Singapore Airlines are not growing. Some low-cost carriers like AirAsia, Scoot and Tigerair are also starting to offer more connecting flights. So even as the point-to-point model will grow strongly, hub airports will continue to be relevant as well.

Q What is the significance of the Singapore Airshow for Boeing?

A The Singapore Airshow just gets bigger and better each time. The Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing air travel market and the Singapore event offers a unique platform for us to meet key officials including chief executives of airlines in the region. It is a very high-level quality of delegates that the Singapore Airshow attracts.

Karamjit Kaur

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2016, with the headline 'S-E Asian airlines 'will need 3,750 new planes''. Print Edition | Subscribe