ANALYSIS: CFM leads engines race in Southeast Asia

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If there was ever any doubt about the importance of narrowbodies in Southeast Asia, one need only look at CFM International’s market share in the region.

The Snecma-General Electric joint venture’s engines have a 40.4% share of the market, Flightglobal’s Ascend Online database shows.

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A big reason for that is the exclusivity the manufacturer has on the large number of Boeing 737s in the region, particularly in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

CFM has benefitted from being the sole engine supplier for AirAsia’s growing A320 fleet. It has also signed the pan-Asian carrier up for Leap-1A engines to power the 264 A320neos that it has on order.

This year, it will gain Singapore Airlines’ regional subsidiary Silk Air as a customer when it starts taking delivery of CFM56-powered 737s. Those aircraft will replace its fleet of 24 International Aero Engines V2500-powered A320s and A319s.

Despite the dominance of CFM, IAE has held its own in the region, with a respectable 15.4% share of the market. Key A320 operators in the region such as Jetstar Asia, Philippine Airlines, Bangkok Airways and Tigerair operate aircraft with IAE engines.

Both engine manufacturers are working hard to win the few A320 engine competitions that remain. The biggest of those is with Lion Air, which has 234 A320-family aircraft on order, including 174 Neo variants.

Sources close to the company tell Flightglobal an announcement is expected within weeks, likely coinciding with the Singapore air show.

Philippine Airlines and Garuda Indonesia’s budget subsidiary Citilink also have A320-family aircraft with unannounced engine orders. However, Citilink has already committed to Leap-1As for some of its A320neo backlog.

P&W scored something of a coup when Philippines carrier Cebu Pacific chose the engine for the 30 A321neos that it has on order, despite having CFM56s on its existing A319s and A320s.

Nevertheless, CFM has also been successful in encouraging operators of IAE powered A320s to make the switch to the Leap-1A. Jetstar Asia and Jetstar Pacific for example, will operate some of the 71 Leap-1A powered A320neos that have been ordered by Qantas.

Despite that competition, P&W remains confident that it will continue to be a strong contender in the Southeast Asian market.

“We have maintained a lead on Airbus A320neo engine orders, with more than 50% of announced and unannounced orders. We’re very pleased that operators and leasing companies in Asia and other parts of the world recognise the many benefits of the geared turbofan,” says Mary Ellen Jones, Pratt & Whitney vice-president of sales for Asia/Pacific & China.

In the widebody space, Rolls-Royce’s Trent series of engines is by far the dominant engine in Southeast Asia, while it has also sold strongly on new-generation aircraft such as the 787 and A350.

Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways International operate a number of Trent-powered A330s, A380s and early-model 777s. On the latter aircraft, there is a Trent monopoly in the region, as no A380 customers in the region have yet chosen the rival Engine Alliance GP7200 engine.

R-R and SIA have had a particularly long and fruitful partnership. The airline, via its SIA Engineering MRO arm, is a partner with the manufacturer in Singapore Aero Engine Services. Consequently, SAESL provides support for most R-R engines in the region.

Longer term, R-R’s share is projected to grow strongly as SIA and Thai take delivery of a number of Trent XWB-powered A350s. Both carriers have also ordered Trent 1000s for their 787s, practically locking the General Electric GEnx out of the region.

Despite the lack of GEnx operators in the region, GE has been able to maintain a respectable market share due to the strong penetration of the GE90-powered 777-300ER into the region. There are also 38 CF6-powered aircraft operating in the region.

P&W has been able to hold its own in the widebody market, with PW4000 engines powering aircraft including some A330s and 777-200ERs variously operated by Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines. However, as older aircraft such as 747-400s and A300s exit service, its market share is expected to diminish.

In the short term, there appear to be very few upcoming competitions for widebody engines in the region. No engine selection for AirAsia X’s recent order for 25 additional A330-300s has been announced, but with Trent 700s already powering the majority of its fleet, that looks to be the most likely winner.

(corrects details on Jetstar Asia, Jetstar Pacific and Citilink A320neo engine selections.)