Airbus to target Asia sales

Airbus claims the Asian financial crisis will not harm its long-term sales prospects in the Asia-Pacific region. Commercial vice-president John Leahy said it was having little effect on demand for air travel. In its 1998 global market forecast the pan-European airliner consortium, in which British Aerospace has a 20% stake, says between now and 2017 […]

Airbus claims the Asian financial crisis will not harm its long-term sales prospects in the Asia-Pacific region.

Commercial vice-president John Leahy said it was having little effect on demand for air travel.

In its 1998 global market forecast the pan-European airliner consortium, in which British Aerospace has a 20% stake, says between now and 2017 there will be a need for 13,600 new airliners worth $1.2 trillion, representing average annual sales of $60bn.

Passenger traffic is predicted to almost triple in the next 20 years, with a third of the demand for single-aisle aircraft and the rest for wide-bodied planes.

Airbus said the figures justified its proposed launch of the A3XX, which will provide a rival to Boeing’s 747 for the first time in 30 years. The 480-650 seat plane will come into service in 2004.

The Asia-Pacific region, including China, will eventually become the dominant market, accounting for 33% of the world airliner fleet compared with 25% today.

Airbus is considering an increase in production for the A320 family of single-aisle aircraft, but Leahy conceded production bottlenecks could yet block this.

Airbus avoided comment on the talks about transforming the consortium into a private limited company.