Airbus sees huge potential in China in private aviation

Updated: 2008-02-14 09:46

Airbus has begun to get orders from customers based in the Chinese mainland and are expecting more in this year, a senior member of the aviation giant's management said in Hong Kong Wednesday.

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"China has been leading the world in economic growth in recent years and this economic growth is driving growth in air travels," said David Velupillai, marketing director of Airbus' executive and private aviation department.

Velupillai said that Airbus was expecting China's mainland, Hong Kong and Macao to contribute 15 of the 75 orders it may be getting from the Asia Pacific region.

The potential economic downturn might affect Airbus' performance in the United States but not its sales globally, as emerging markets were growing, he said.

Francois Chazelle, who heads Airbus' executive and private aviation team, acknowledged it was receiving orders from the Chinese mainland, which he said was a sign that the potential of the growing economy in private aviation was being unleashed.

He declined, however, to predict the number of orders Airbus was hoping to get from China's mainland, saying that it was hard to break down the orders because some of the orders by the customers from the Chinese mainland were placed via Hong Kong- based agents.

Airbus was currently producing three families of corporate jetliners, namely A320, the larger A330/340/350 and the superjumbo A380, all in service for less than 20 years.

Airbus said it in 2007 passed the milestone of 100 sales of its Airbus ACJ family, which comprises the A318 Elite, the Airbus Corporate Jetliner and the A320 Prestige.

An Asian customer, whose name the company declined to disclose, has placed a firm order for the VIP-configured Airbus A350, the newest member of its VIP widebodies series, which include the A330/ 340/350 family and the double-decker A380.

It was the second order for the extra widebody corporate jetliner. The first firm order for the jetliner was placed by a Hong Kong-based billionaire last year.

Velupillai said Airbus had been in talks for several orders for the private and business version of the superjumbo A380, which saw its first order last year from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Abdulaziz, a member of the Saudi royal family.

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