Airbus Hopes China Will Boost Demand For A380

Plane maker forecast 'substantial' demand for its A380 superjumbo in China as international traffic to mega cities such as Beijing or Shanghai increases.

PARIS (AP) -- Airbus has forecast ''substantial'' demand for its A380 superjumbo in China as international traffic to mega cities such as Beijing or Shanghai increases.
In its 2007-2008 global market forecast issued Thursday, the European plane maker said it expects a fivefold increase in passenger traffic on the Chinese mainland over the next 20 years and a tripling of China's aircraft fleet.
That translates into 2,800 new passenger and freighter aircraft, including 1,900 single-aisle aircraft, nearly 700 twin-aisles and 190 very large aircraft (VLA) such as the A380, Airbus forecasts.
Airbus predicted that strong economic growth, the surge in consumer spending and a demographic concentration in cities in China, plus the ''large Chinese outbound tourist wave'' would ''translate into a substantial demand for VLAs.''
The A380 represents Airbus' bet on future demand for long-haul travel between congested hub airports worldwide. American rival Boeing Co. believes passengers want point-to-point trips between smaller airports and is targeting that market with mid-sized jets.
By 2020, Airbus forecasts 80 superjumbo flights daily to Beijing.
Airbus said 87 percent of Europe-China passengers and 85 percent of U.S.-China passengers want to go to Beijing or Shanghai, and intra-Asia demand is focused on population centers such as Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore.
Airbus wants a bigger share of the growing Chinese market. Chief salesman John Leahy said he aims to boost his company's share of the in-service fleet of passenger planes from 38 percent to 50 percent in China by 2012.
Airbus needs to sell more superjumbos to break even on the program after penalties for late delivery and spiraling development costs wiped billions of euros (dollars) off profits.
When the first A380 was finally delivered to its first customer, Singapore Airlines, in October last year -- almost two years late -- Chief Executive Thomas Enders declined to provide the extent of those losses.
Airbus has taken 192 orders for the A380, and has delivered three.
The plane maker has gone through five CEOs in the last two years, and is now in the midst of a restructuring plan that would cut 10,000 jobs over four years. Part of that plan involves selling sites in France, Germany and Britain.
Workers at all four of Airbus' French factories went on strike Thursday, demanding equal treatment for French and German employees. Airbus decided to create a holding company -- called German Aerostructure Company -- for its three plants in Germany instead of selling them off.
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