AIRBUS HAS WARNED that emerging Asia-Pacific aerospace industries may be attacking the wrong market with their emphasis on regional jets.

The warning is based on the latest Airbus long-range forecast, which shows that airlines in Asia-Pacific will account for only 10% of airliner deliveries in the 100-seat class.

"Some 70% of demand for 100-seaters will come from airlines in Europe and North America," says Adam Brown, head of strategic planning at Airbus.

"Aspiring Asian suppliers of such an aircraft should note that these airlines may not be the most easily attracted by a 'Made-in-Asia' label."

Brown goes on to challenge the "conventional wisdom" that regional jets are an obvious entry-level aircraft, arguing that the market is small and highly competitive, while production is still relatively expensive.

"Costs do not scale down with airliner size," he points out.

Although Asia-Pacific is due to take 26% of new jet-aircraft deliveries over the next 20 years, Airbus forecasts that most of these will be wide-bodies.

Airbus projects that the average aircraft-seat count in the world fleet will rise overall, from 179 to 240 seats, over the next 20 years, but Brown points out that the Asia-Pacific fleet is already at this level.

The average size of aircraft there is therefore expected to grow to 356 seats.

The comments come as Boeing is negotiating a proposed New Small Airliner (NSA) programme in the region, centering on China and Japan, while Fokker and Daimler-Benz Aerospace have both signed preliminary agreements to investigate the market in conjunction with South Korea.

The new ATR and British Aerospace regional-aircraft alliance, as well as Airbus itself has held talks about production in the region.

Source: Flight International