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Singapore Air Show commences with orders for China’s COMAC, Boeing

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The Singapore Air Show, Asia’s premier aviation event, launched on Tuesday with significant aircraft orders for China’s COMAC and Boeing amidst the industry’s efforts to navigate a resurgence in post-pandemic travel demand amid supply challenges.

Over 1,000 companies from 50 nations are participating in the biennial event, featuring both commercial and defense-focused exhibits. Notable participants include industry giants like Airbus, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin, alongside Chinese counterparts such as COMAC and AVIC.

While Russian companies opted out due to the conflict in Ukraine, Israeli firms, Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, are present after skipping the Dubai Airshow amid the Israel-Hamas conflict. Trade delegates witnessed flying displays showcasing military aircraft from various nations, including the COMAC C919 commercial jet and an Airbus A350-1000 powered by sustainable aviation fuel.

COMAC made headlines by unveiling its C919 narrow-body jet outside China for the first time, securing the initial aircraft orders of the event. China’s Tibet Airlines finalized an order for 40 C919 single-aisle planes and 10 ARJ21 regional jets, while China’s Henan Civil Aviation Development and Investment Group ordered 6 ARJ21s. Additionally, Royal Brunei Airlines announced a firm order for four Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, with Thai Airways also confirming an order for 45 wide-body planes.

Despite being early in the year, the Singapore air show typically sees fewer major order announcements compared to other industry events. However, with travel demand nearing pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023, industry insiders like Steven Townend, CEO of BOC Aviation, express optimism for 2024 as a return to normalcy.

Supply chain challenges remain a focal point, with major suppliers and manufacturers struggling to meet demand. Boeing faces scrutiny following a mid-air incident involving an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX, leading to a production freeze. Airbus also grapples with delays in the entry to service of its A321XLR and production issues with the A320neo family. Christian Scherer, CEO of Airbus’ commercial aircraft business, acknowledges the strain on the aerospace supply chain, highlighting efforts to address bottlenecks.

These production challenges hinder airlines’ efforts to transition to more fuel-efficient models and meet emission reduction targets. Despite the higher cost, airlines are increasingly investing in sustainable aviation fuel to mitigate carbon emissions. Singapore’s transport minister announced plans for a levy on departing flight ticket prices from 2026 to offset the costs of transitioning to greener fuels, reflecting the industry’s commitment to sustainability amidst evolving challenges.

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