Earlier this year, Boeing released a report detailing how China is going to have the biggest demand of pilots in the world in the next 20 years, up to 12,000 pilots a year!
This was further proved by the steps China has been taken to grow their home latent, such as buying up pilot academies in Australia.
But one question remains, what planes should all these pilots be flying?An Air China A350 sporting a colourful livery.
If they have it their way, Airbus says China will be their biggest customer over the next 20 years.
Why is Airbus focused on China?
Earlier this week, Airbus released a report into the growing market of China, revealing that they would be buying up to 7400 planes in the next twenty years. This is approx 19% of the worlds airline market (Of 37,400 jets needed by 2037).
China is one of the most powerful growth engines of global air transport. It will become the world’s number one aviation market in the very near future, Airbus’ share of the China mainland in-service fleet has steadily increased and now exceeds incumbent and competing aircraft types and keeps growing thanks to our cost-effective new generation products” – Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer.
In the report, Airbus outlined what specific jets would be needed:
- 6,180 Small Jets – Essentially smaller single-aisle jets to fly between small regional airports and hubs (If using the hub and spoke model), or direct routes if flown between cities (Like we see in Australia). Possible candidates might be the Boeing 737 max series, or the A320 series (Or maybe even the A220 series, see our A220 vs 737 article here).
- 870 Medium Jets – Bigger planes that are required for major population centers (Such as province capitals) and short-haul international routes (To neighbors like Korea, Japan and Vietnam). Possible contenders might be the 787 Dreamliner or the Airbus 330 range. This also includes cargo planes to transports goods.
- 240 Heavy Jets – The high capacity planes on the market to bridge the capital cities of China (Bejing, Shanghai, and others) for domestic and international travel. This would be perfect for the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 777x series.
- 130 Super Heavy Jets – The last set of planes for high capacity long-haul routes. This would be the east coast of China to Europe and America. Airbus believes these would be served well by the A350-1000 and might even save the A380. For Boeing, this would be a candidate for the 777x-9 or a further stretch.
Is Airbus in a good position to win this market?
Airbus is already buttering up China, with reports that they have been trying to poach longtime Boeing customers.
However, Boeing is working on the perfect plane for China, the Boeing 797. Also known as the middle market jet, the 797 is designed to carry more passengers than the incredibly popular 737 (Which they can’t build enough of!) but fly to more airports than the giant 747 or 777x. As China made up of nearly 1.4 billion people (The report mentioned that by 2037 1.15 billion Chinese would have access to air travel), they have plenty of passengers that need to fly short distances domestically.An artist’s impression of what the Boeing 797 could look like.
But, as it turns out, they might have more competition than just Boeing.
What if China built their own jets?
We have gone into great detail before about the alternatives to Boeing and Airbus, and its more likely than ever before that China will simply build the planes themselves.
Because the Chinese market is not as ‘free’ as the west, the government of the people’s republic could simply demand that their airlines buy Chinese made planes. And there are a lot of them! Currently, there are for different models in development (You can read the list here).
Just like we saw with their highspeed rail network, once the Chinese understand how to do something, they can replicate it will great success.
What do you think? Will Airbus be successful in China?