Avion Par Excellence: Airbus Upbeat on APAC Prospects, Spearheaded by Malaysia

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Avion Par Excellence: Airbus Upbeat on APAC Prospects, Spearheaded by Malaysia

In the face of turbulence in the aviation industry, Airbus continues on a path of sustainable growth in the Asia Pacific region. AWANI Review speaks to Airbus Asia Pacific president Jean-Marc Nasr.

If size was any indicator of commitment, it looks like Malaysia will remain a key country for European aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

They were the largest largest international exhibitor at the recent Langkawi International Maritime and Aviation Exhibition (LIMA) 2019, displaying its entire range of commercial aircraft, defence, space and helicopter products and services.

Airbus predicts that Asia Pacific region will record 5.5% annual growth in passenger traffic over the next 20 years compared with global average growth of 4.4%

More than that, the group reiterated Malaysia’s position in the manufacturer’s supply chain business as the value of Airbus work undertaken here is expected to hit USD550 million a year by 2023, driven by higher passenger traffic growth, which is expected to boost demand for aircraft production and MRO services.

“Airbus predicts that Asia Pacific region will record 5.5 percent annual growth in passenger traffic over the next 20 years compared with global average growth of 4.4 percent,” says Airbus Asia Pacific president Jean-Marc Nasr during a press briefing ahead of the LIMA 2019 air show.

In 2018, Airbus Malaysian operations, including maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) were valued at USD400 million.

“So, that’s a growth of over 30 percent of what we will be doing here. Going together with that, we expect to increase the number of jobs in Malaysia from 4000 to 5200 (by 2023).”

“That’s a proof of trust of our company in this country, and it will not stop going forward.”

Malaysia is currently the largest supplier base for Airbus in Southeast Asia, with the country’s aerospace firms producing aerostructures and components throughout the company’s product lines.

Airbus is also the leading supplier of civil aircraft to Malaysia. With a total of 727 jetliners ordered by airlines in the country as of 2018, Malaysia is Airbus’ third-largest market in the Asia-Pacific region – after China and India.

Two Airbus Defense A400M Atlas at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition 2019  -  Photo by LIMA 2019

Airbus is a leader in Malaysia’s rotorcraft segment, with more than 100 helicopters in service in the country. In 2002, the company set up its Airbus Helicopters Malaysia and by 2018, Malaysia was appointed Airbus’ regional MRO Hub for Asia-Pacific as well as the region’s delivery centre.

A highly skilled workforce provides us a solid basis for growth

In the defense segment, Malaysia was the first export nation for Airbus’ A400M airlifter, and the Royal Malaysian Air Force took delivery of its fourth aircraft in 2017. This allowed the service to become the first operator to stand up a full A400M squadron.

Meanwhile, in the lesser known space segment, Airbus has delivered MEASAT-3b, the largest satellite ordered by the Malaysian communications sector in 2014.

“We have a solid foundation here, having been in Malaysia for 20 years,” says Nasr.

“A highly skilled workforce provides us a solid basis for growth, as we look to hire more Malaysians going forward, in both Sepang Aerospace Engineering and MRO for helicopters.”

Nasr also lauds the country’s competitive cost base and a clear government policy in backing the development of the local aerospace industry. “These reasons make Malaysia an absolutely key (market) for us in the future.”

Watch the full interview with Jean-Marc Nasr below.

Having been in charge of Airbus’ Middle East, Africa, UK and France operations, we start by asking the newly appointed president for Asia Pacific on the trends he is observing in the region.