DUBAI 09: China in civil aircraft marketing push

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China is making a renewed push to market its civil aircraft in the Middle East and Africa, with the international marketing arm of AVIC of China promoting several aircraft to the region at the show.

AVIC International is displaying models of its MA60 turboprop regional jet, Y-12E 18-seat multipurpose light transport turboprop aircraft, and the H425 transport helicopter. It is also talking to several potential customers about the ARJ21 regional jet and LE500 four-seat light general aircraft.

"The Middle East and Africa have many countries that are really keen to develop their aviation sectors. They have airlines that are just starting up, or need small aircraft to cover the short distances within the country or the region, or do not have proper runways. Many of them may also not have the funds to buy more expensive aircraft," says an official from AVIC International.

"We have aircraft that can fill all of those requirements, and at a price that makes it good value for them. We have been talking to many countries in the region about our aircraft, and this show is a great opportunity to further these discussions or begin talks with new ones."

Chinese aircraft have been bought by several countries around the world. The MA60, for example, is in operation in the Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe, while the Y-12 is in service in Uganda. While the ARJ21 has not yet had any international orders, it is being studied by several airlines in Africa and Latin America. However, the Chinese aircraft industry is still in its nascent stage and faces several challenges.

One major worry among several potential customers is the level of after-sales support provided by AVIC. The official says that the company plans to overcome that by using more authorised service centres and training local employees in the countries that bought the aircraft.