Austerity-gripped European countries would love China’s problems. As Beijing turns down the inflationary heat, Asia’s biggest economy will grow about 7% this year – much less than the double-digit rates of recent years, but eye-watering by Western standards.

Yet, as the Zhuhai air show approaches, slowing industrial output and consumer demand have prompted concerns that the big two manufacturers may be overstating predictions of the number of aircraft they hope to sell there – and that could have a telling impact on their 20-year production plans.

Chinese customers represent just 3% of the almost 11,400-strong Airbus and Boeing backlog – the UK, Malaysia and Ireland each have more aircraft on order. However, Toulouse and Seattle believe the country is a massive potential market, which will burgeon as airlines and infrastructure catch up with demand for air travel from its 1.4 billion citizens.

We agree. Competition remains king in the skies of this Communist country, and the arrival of dynamic and hungry new carriers should keep prices keen and ensure the double-digit increase of traffic continues.

While there are aspirant aviation giants all over Asia, China represents the most stable long-term model, with the government likely to keep a close eye on airlines’ financial health and unsustainable growth ambitions.

Airbus and Boeing are right to expect big things.

Source: Flight International