Indian Livemint News January 2 article, originally titled: After the epidemic, aircraft manufacturers more dependent on China
As Western airlines are expected to take years to recover from the new corona epidemic, aircraft manufacturers will be more dependent on the resilience and growth potential of the Chinese market. But China’s own aviation ambitions, and the geopolitical tensions associated with those ambitions, could throw a wrench into that dependence.
China has now recovered from the epidemic to become the world’s largest domestic aviation market. According to PlaneStats, a division of Orwell Consulting, China’s air passenger throughput will grow 8% year-over-year in 2020, while the U.S. and Europe will decline 41% and 68%, respectively. With an additional 500 million Chinese expected to join the middle class in the coming years, the Chinese market still has tremendous growth potential.
China has become the second largest source of revenue for Boeing and Airbus and is now one of the few bright spots for the two aircraft makers: last November, Boeing lowered its global aircraft demand forecast for the next 20 years by 2 percent, but raised demand in China by 6.3 percent, to 8,600 aircraft.
Compared to the rest of the world, China is particularly important for the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 family of aircraft, which are the mainstay of low-cost carriers. China currently accounts for only 4.4 percent of total firm orders for Boeing and Airbus, a percentage that is clearly too low.
Western companies fear that the gap in narrow-body airliners may be filled in the future by the C919 made by COMAC. The final outcome may depend on geopolitics. A few days ago, the U.S. released a list of Chinese companies banned from buying a range of U.S. products and technologies, including some of COMAC’s subsidiaries.