Airbus and Boeing are anticipating strong long-term air traffic growth in the Latin America and Caribbean region, despite recent economic headwinds.
A new Boeing forecast unveiled at the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA) Airline Leaders Forum in San Juan, Puerto Rico projects the Latin American/Caribbean commercial fleet more than doubling over a 20-year period. It calls for 3,020 new aircraft valued at $350 billion to be added during that timeframe. The majority will be single-aisle aircraft, as well as about 340 widebodies.
Passenger traffic in the region is growing at 6% annually—faster than the average global rate, said Van Rex Gallard, Boeing Commercial Airplanes VP-sales for Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean. The average age of aircraft in the region is fewer than 10 years, he said—morethan five years younger than it was in 2005. Airlines have been replacing older aircraft since then, and Boeing estimates that almost 60% of the aircraft flying in Latin America and the Caribbean today will be replaced over the forecast period.
As for the region’s in-service fleet, Airbus calculates that it has a slight edge in numbers over Boeing today. The European manufacturer holds 53% of the market share for commercial aircraft carrying more than 150 passengers, Airbus president-Latin America and the Caribbean Rafael Alonso said on the sidelines of the ALTA conference. The manufacturer has sold nearly 1,000 aircraft in the region, and 603 operate today.The latest Airbus forecast from the Paris Air Show anticipates that airlines in the region will need between 2,400 and 2,500 aircraft in the next 20 years to satisfy 4.7% annual traffic growth.
When asked whether currency devaluations across Latin America are hurting financing, Alonso said that Airbus has not had any significant issues. “So far, we haven’t seen any really major problems [with] financing,” he said, adding that there is “plenty of money now in the market.” The manufacturer is “on target” to meet its aircraft sales goals this year, Alonso said, noting Avianca’s recent order for 100 A320neo aircraft.
In the regional space, Embraer echoes optimism about the Latin American/Caribbean region’s long-term prospects. It is particularly focused on garnering deals for the E2 from current E-Jet customers, which include Copa Airlines and Aeromexico. Embraer VP-commercial aviation-Africa and Latin America Simon Newitt told ATW the manufacturer expects both airlines to make fleet replacement decisions for its E190s within the next two years.
The region’s strong projected growth has also attracted the attention of Superjet International, the sales and marketing venture for Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Co.’s SSJ100. But despite the jet’s successful entry-into-service with Mexico’s Interjet and a recent 15-aircraft lease deal with Ireland’s CityJet, Superjet International CEO Nazario Cauceglia did not indicate that any more Latin American airlines are close to firming deals for the jet.
“We are having some very good discussions” with carriers in the region, he told reporters at the ALTA conference,but added,“I’ll be very honest. In [the short term], I don’t see any [sales] opportunity that can be closed within months.”