AIRSHOW CHINA: Bombardier makes big push at Zhuhai

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Bombardier has outlined a case for its CSeries aircraft in China, as it continues its quest for its first Chinese customer for the type.

Speaking at Airshow China in Zhuhai, Andy Solem, vice-president of sales for China and North Asia, said that 60% of all flights that take off in China today carry between 80-120 passengers, and that the CSeries is optimised for this number.

"Over 70% of China's airports have less than 1 million passengers a year," he adds. "This is where the growth will be. China has a well thought out plan that will build regional infrastructure."

Nonetheless, the Canadian airframer has yet to secure its first Chinese customer. "We're in very deep discussions with a number of carriers in China and around the world," says Solem, although he declined to detail specific discussions.

Among western airframers, Bombardier has one of the highest profile stands at this year's show, with a full cabin and cockpit mock-up of the CSeries.

Solem also disclosed Bombardier's projections for China's commercial aircraft. Figures for 2012 show that the country has an installed base of 1,810 aircraft, of which 413 are in the 100-149 seat segment and 167 are in the regional aircraft segment.

Between 2012 and 2031, China will see deliveries of 5,260 aircraft and the retirement of 1,070, Bombardier forecasts. This includes deliveries of 1,400 aircraft in the 100-149 seat segment, which the company will address with the CSeries, and 820 regional aircraft deliveries, where Bombardier sees opportunities for its Dash-8 Q400.

It cites a number of reasons for this demand, including the Civil Aviation Authority of China's (CAAC) 12th Five-Year plan for the years between 2011 and 2015. The plan calls for more regional airports, the retirement of inefficient aircraft and for a national commercial fleet size of 2,750 aircraft by 2015.

The CAAC plan also hopes to strengthen regional air transport networks and accelerate the growth of regional airlines.