Planemakers look to ink Asia deals despite emerging market worries

Fri Feb 7, 2014 6:20am EST
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By Siva Govindasamy and Tim Hepher

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Aerospace firms will finalize billions of dollars of deals at next week's Singapore Airshow, hoping to ride out a storm in emerging markets whose prosperity is vital to their plans to keep producing record numbers of jets.

Asia's largest aerospace gathering is usually a "show and tell" event where executives come to mingle with some of the world's biggest long-haul carriers and Asia's ambitious new travel tycoons, as well as the region's busy military buyers.

After a record $200 billion of deals at last November's Dubai Airshow, few expect Asian buyers to be ordering in similar quantities - yet the February 11-16 event will test the appetite of one of aviation's fastest growing regions.

"Asia is a huge market but has been somewhat eclipsed by the Gulf which has the same idea about how to pursue traffic and got to the orders race a few months before Singapore," said aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia, vice president at Virgina-based Teal Group.

Vietnamese, Indian and Thai carriers will place orders for over 100 Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) or Boeing (BA.N: Quote) passenger jets worth $12 billion at list prices, industry officials say. Malaysian Airlines MASM.KL could also place an order for Airbus long-haul and medium-haul jets.

Both Airbus and Boeing have committed to record production rates for their most popular models and have longer-term plans to produce more than 100 narrowbody jets a month between them - churning out a $100 million jet every few working hours.

But executives will be looking out for any signs that financial turmoil in key aviation markets like Indonesia and Thailand will threaten economic growth, which directly determines the level of air traffic demand.

"The manufacturers might be getting ahead of themselves given the troubles in emerging markets," said Aboulafia.   Continued...

The Boeing logo is seen at their headquarters in Chicago, April 24, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Young