The airline and civil aerospace industries have lost two years of growth since the 11 September terror attacks and the more recent Gulf War and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) scares, says John Leahy, Airbus chief commercial officer.


However, the long-term will see a return to annual growth in air travel which translates into a need for 16,000 new aircraft over 20 years.

"It's been a very difficult time most recently with SARS," says Leahy. "It makes no sense what has been happening: it has been destroying the infra-structure of Hong Kong. This is an industry that has been up and down more than any industry I know.


"But it is bouncing back because the truth is that we simply can't have business without getting on aeroplanes and flying around the world. I really believe that we have quite a future."

Answering critics who say that the number of "whitetails" parked in the desert will affect the potential for sales of new aircraft, Leahy says that many of the older generation aircraft will "simply never come back".

He adds: "DC-9s or 727s? That generation of aircraft will never come back but there will remain a demand for newer, cost-effective aircraft."


Asked about the proposed Boeing 7E7, Leahy retorts: "Since I have been commercial director, Boeing has launched seven paper planes so maybe the eighth will go somewhere. But I doubt it."

Leahy rattles off statistics:

In 1995 the split between Airbus and Boeing on orders was 82% to the American firm and just 18% to the European company. In 2002 Airbus captured 57% of orders.

This year, in a depressed market for new orders, Airbus has taken 57% (42 aircraft) against Boeing's 32. Measured by value, Airbus has 69% ($4.5 billion) against Boeing's 31% ($2 billion).

Airbus has sold more than 4,600 aircraft in total and has 183 customers on its books. An Airbus aircraft takes off somewhere every four seconds.

Source: Flight Daily News