The tiger (air)show
A tiger show without stunts involving darts, ping-pong balls and beer bottles? You bet!
The Singapore Airshow (from Feb 6-9) has been devoid of any major aircraft deals, save for a USD120 million ATR contract from Bangkok Airways for four turboprop planes from the Italian manufacturer and two orders from Malaysia’s Berjaya Hotels & Resorts. It’s not a big deal. Really.
There was a smaller but significant deal: US-based HondaJet struck a deal with France’s air taxi company Wijet for 16 planes. The company showcased its 7-seater business jet, each with a catalogue price of USD4.9 million, at the Changi Exhibition Centre.
But back to the tiger show…
Brazilian plane maker Embraer brought its hard-nosed “tiger” – the latest E190-E2 aircraft – to the airshow. The “tiger”, also dubbed “profit hunter”, was possibly the most photographed item on static display. Read more about it here.
The E2 is Embraer’s latest iteration of its popular E-jet series, used mostly in North America and Europe. The first E2 jet is slated for delivery to Norwegian carrier Wideroe this coming spring.
The airshow pitted Embraer’s products against its biggest and fiercest rival, Canada’s Bombardier.
On offer from Bombardier is the C Series, namely the -100 and -300 variants, although only the CS300 was on display at the airshow, in air Baltic livery. It is an impressive plane, with a very comfortable cabin (we didn’t like the middle seat, though) and a sleek cockpit.
The market for regional jets is small. It’s a niche market but one that has a big upside in Asia, particularly Southeast Asia where many countries are archipelagic in nature.
There’s a lot to be said about right-sizing in a marketplace marked by overcapacity. Regional planes are a lot cheaper to operate and much more fuel-efficient. It’s a matter of time before some airlines in the region look at flying the right size, right type of aircraft.
It’s becoming a crowded market for regional jet players. Bombardier and Embraer aside, Mitsubishi remains optimistic about its MRJ plane, which has been delayed five times. The Japanese company aims to sell over 650 of the MRJs. It’s unlikely to happen.
China is a ripe market for regional aircraft and the Chinese has come up with its own model, the ARJ21 made by local state-owned manufacturer Comac. The Russians are at it, too, with the Sukhoi Superjet 100.
But the battle royale will be between the Bombardier CSeries (with Airbus soon to provide the know-how) and Embraer’s E2 (perhaps soon to be acquired by Boeing?)…
Embraer and Boeing have been careful with their words, about any potential tie-up. The Brazilians have got a good thing going. Let’s see if the price reflects that.