The Canadian planemaker Bombardier plans to raise its Asia-Pacific profile with greater penetration of a growing market niche not covered by heavyweights Airbus and Boeing.
Bombardier’s CSeries is positioned midway between regional jets and big commercial planes.
The Montreal-based firm is strengthening its regional sales drive for its three smaller aircraft models _ the all-new narrow-body CSeries jetliner, the updated version of the CRJ regional jet and the Q400 NextGen turboprop.
Bombardier sees these aircraft as having the capability and seating capacity for market segments that are growing two or three times faster than those linked to big cities and dominated by larger Airbus and Boeing jets.
The CSeries has 100-149 seats, the CRJ jet 50-89 seats and the Q400 70-80 seats, while the smallest commercial jets manufactured by Airbus and Boeing _ the A320 and B737 series, respectively _ seat 140-189.
The entry into service of its CSeries, planned for mid-2014, has also prompted Bombardier to raise its profile in Asia-Pacific and increase its global market footprint, Torbjorn Karlsson, the vice-president for Asia-Pacific sales, told the Bangkok Post.
The Swedish executive said Bombardier's presence in Asia-Pacific, defined as 14 countries including big aviation markets such as China, India and Australia, is relatively small, with only 290 aircraft based in the region.
Karlsson: Filling a market niche
India, China and Australia are obviously at the top of Bombardier's priority list due to their sizeable market opportunities, while countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar also have potential, Mr Karlsson said.
In Thailand, Bombardier, which also produces trains, is focusing its sales talks with Bangkok Airways on the CSeries and Q400 for refleeting, he said.
Airbus 319-200 narrow-body jets and ATR-72 turboprops have dominated the airline's fleet.
But Mr Karlsson hopes to see that change, saying: "I don't think any airline will set in stone any particular type of aircraft they need but would choose the most appropriate aircraft when they need them to match given business models."
Several ATR-72 customers have shifted to Bombardier's Q400, he said.
Bombardier is pitching the CSeries and Q400 turboprops for refleeting, particularly on secondary routes.
To support its Asia-Pacific sales drive, Bombardier set up a regional office in Singapore about 18 months ago "to be closer to our customers" than serving them from Toronto, Canada.
Mr Karlsson declined to say how many aircraft Bombardier targets to sell in Asia-Pacific.
Bombardier believes global demand for aircraft with 20-149 seats will number 12,800 over the next 20 years.
It expects the CSeries, which has cost US$3.4 billion to develop, to corner about half the 6,900 single-aisle jets with 100-149-seats that airlines are expected to acquire over the period, contributing $5-8 billion in annual revenue starting in 2018.
The company has so far secured 177 firm orders for the aircraft, which offers a lightweight carbon-composite frame similar to Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and new, fuel-efficient Pratt & Whitney engines.
It has repeatedly said it is confident of reaching its target of at least 300 firm orders, estimated to be worth $19 billion, by the time the plane enters service.
Since its March 1989 launch, Bombardier's CRJ Series has had 1,708 firm orders, with 1,638 delivered as of April 2011. The company has booked firm orders for 471 Q400 and Q400 NextGen turboprops.
About the author
- Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
Position: Deputy Editor Business