Aviation leaders representing airlines, aircraft leasing, and engine manufacturing each signalled significant and rapid new growth in air travel during an opening day panel at the Singapore air show.

“We see 2024 as a real return to normal,” says Steven Townend, chief executive of Singapore-based lessor BOC Aviation. “The airline market has come back and the leasing market has come back. But a lot of financial and capital markets haven’t quite come back to aviation.”

Singapore air show CEO Forum

Source: Billypix

Panel (l-r) FlightGlobal head of content Graham Dunn (moderator), BOC Aviation’s Steven Townend, CFM International’s Karl Sheldon, Riyadh Air’s Peter Bellew and Zipair’s Yasuhiro Fukada

Karl Sheldon, executive vice-president of engine maker CFM International, also tells a strong story of recovery. “For the most part, traffic is up and demand is up, but the supply chain is still a bit of a challenge. The skills are still renewing.”

Peter Bellew, chief operating officer of Saudi Arabian start-up Riyadh Air, says the carrier is rapidly progressing towards take-off next year.

“We’re in the process of getting our AOC at the moment,” he says, ahead of test flights of its first Boeing 787 in the third quarter of this year, and increased aircraft deliveries next year ahead of its launch.

“We can get people, because they want to be involved in a project as exciting a setting up a major new airline in a rapidly growing market,” he says.

Yasuhiro Fukada, co-founder and executive officer of Japan Airlines’ low-cost subsidiary Zipair, says his long-haul carrier is increasing 787-8 services from Tokyo to major Asian and North American hubs.

Despite Covid’s heavy impact on Japan, he says a key market for his airline was Generation Z, which is keen to travel, “but very sensitive about sustainability.”

The Aviation CEO forum was co-organised by FlightGlobal with Singapore Airshow organiser Experia and sponsored by CFM International.