Regional aircraft market leader Bombardier is bullish about prospects in Asia-Pacific - and to underline the point yesterday announced the firming up of an option on a Dash 8 Q300 from Qantas.

"Regional airlines are the strongest growth area in the industry worldwide and we see considerable growth prospects in this region," Barry MacKinnon, vice-president airline analysis and marketing, said yesterday.

Pointing to the consistent growth of the regional sector over several years, MacKinnon says: "We have seen amazing growth [in fleets] and also we are seeing a trend towards larger [regional] aircraft."


Major airlines were increasing the size of their regional aircraft fleets: the Qantas fleet is now 30% regional aircraft and the Air New Zealand fleet is 40% regional.

"With airline restructuring in the USA, the airlines are rapidly increasing their fleets of regional aircraft in order to right-size and meet new market demands," he says.

Turning to the Asia-Pacific market, he says that of the regional fleet of 600 aircraft, half of the types are out of production.

"That tells us that there is excellent replacement potential in this market. In addition to the replacement market, due to market liberalisation, we can see trends towards totally new growth.

"Through both replacement and new growth, we believe we will see very strong growth in this region."

Pointing to the firm's twin portfolios of the CRJ regional jets and the Q series of turboprops, MacKinnon says Bombardier is ideally positioned to meet any need in the region. "Bombardier is the only manufacturer that provides new turboprops and new regional jets and we think that that gives us the edge in the market," he says.

MacKinnon reveals that Qantas, which ordered six 50-seat Q300 aircraft two months ago, has firmed up an option for another Q300 placed at the same time. The aircraft is destined for the QantasLink regional airline operation.

Meanwhile, the aircraft's big brother, the Q400, is at the show as part of a major demonstration tour of the region. It is visiting 15 countries in the 66,000km tour.


Source: Flight Daily News