22.10.2014 09:42

China’s business will soar, predicts Airbus

An essential part of my role as sales director for Northeast Asia at Finnair Cargo is to stay up-to-date on the aviation industry news. In East Asia, where everything moves at lightning speed – and where change is the norm rather than an exception – keeping up with the pace is not always easy. 

Thankfully, reputable newspapers and the opinions of global industry experts are at my fingertips, courtesy of the internet. Sometimes, however, it is the less internationally known outlets that publish the most intriguing stuff. Out of the many news pieces that have grabbed my attention one was an article in the UK's Bristol Post. (The Airbus plant in the Filton area of Bristol, by the way, employs some 4,000 people.) The article was later repeated on the US-based website Manufacturing.net. 
The story ran under the headline “China to become biggest aviation market, say Airbus bosses". According to the newspaper, the biggest growth in the aerospace sector will come from China. This piece of (great) news does not surprise me in the least. I personally get to witness the dynamic growth in East Asia every day of my work week. 
The Bristol Post continued to drop numeric data: today 32 million flights carry three billion passengers and 50 million tons of freight a year. Globally, they wrote, the aviation sector's economic impact is estimated at £1.5 trillion annually. Moreover, the article stated that the passenger and freighter fleet will increase from 18,500 aircraft to 37,500 aircraft by the year 2033. That is an increase of nearly 19,000 aircraft.
John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer of Airbus, was quoted in the article saying, “while mature aviation regions such as Europe and North America will continue to grow, Asia will stand out along with emerging markets for dynamic development. This growth trend is confirmed by Chinese domestic traffic becoming the world's number one aviation market within the next 10 years."  
The wide-body market is where Airbus believes it will see most growth. We are prepared – later next year, Finnair will be the first European airline to add the new extra-wide-body A350 aircraft to its fleet. The initial routes are planned, you guessed it, for China. 
As usual, I continued to follow the news with a keen eye. Then, on October 12, the Shanghai Daily newspaper reported that Airbus had confirmed its intention of setting up an A330 Completion and Delivery Center in China's northern city of Tianjin. Airbus has had an A320 assembly line, a joint venture between Airbus and a Chinese consortium of Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TJFTZ) and China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC), in Tianjin since 2008. Now the successful cooperation is growing and expanding.
So while some analysts are predicting a slowdown in China's growth in the coming years, Airbus has another interpretation of what is on the horizon. Judging by the growth that we are experiencing in the cargo sector in China, I know where I am placing my bets.