Singapore Airshow 2016

Slowdown 'not clipping' Airbus wings

With the "who's who" of global aviation in town, The Straits Times caught up with some of the high-fliers for an insight into issues affecting the industry. The third of the four people featured this week is Mr Fabrice Bregier, president and chief executive officer of European plane manufacturer Airbus.

Q: Are you seeing any impact of the global economic slowdown on your business?

A: Everybody talks about it but when we talk to our customers and lessors, they give us a totally different feedback... We have customers asking us if they can get additional A-320s, and we tell them sorry we're fully booked. So, it is not at all what we saw in 2008 and 2009 during the financial crisis.

Q: Are you expecting a pick-up in sales for the superjumbo A-380, which had no new airline customer for about three years until recently?

A: We have had a good start this year with All Nippon Airways' order of three aircraft, not a small deal to start with. Iran Air has also bought 12 A-380s.

Air traffic is growing strongly, but it is not possible for airlines to increase the number of aircraft in tandem. It cannot work. I believe the A-380 is a revolutionary product launched about 10 to 15 years ahead of its time. To be honest, I think my predecessors would have expected a slightly better order performance. But from here on, I am confident we will have other customers on board.

Q: How well do you think SIA's ultra-long-haul A-350s, which enter commercial service in 2018, will perform?

A: This aircraft will fly up to 19 hours (non-stop to New York). Is it a long flight? Yes. Do you prefer to have a 12-hour flight, a stopover and then a seven-hour flight? Of course not, if you are a bushiness traveller. Every hour matters, and with the quality of SIA, you don't care whether it is 15 hours, 16 hours or 19 hours. So, I'm pretty sure it will work.

Karamjit Kaur

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2016, with the headline 'Slowdown 'not clipping' Airbus wings'. Print Edition | Subscribe