Hong Kong once again played host to the Asian Aerospace International Expo and Congress on 8-10 March. While some exhibitors seemed disappointed that the halls were not busier at a time of recovery for commercial aviation, attendance still reached a record 12,300 delegates and the show had its fair share of major announcements, as Andrzej Jeziorski reports.
1st Apr 2011
Boeing kicked off the Asian Aerospace show with the announcement on 7 March that Air China had agreed to purchase five of its new 747-8 Intercontinental jetliners, becoming the third customer for the latest development of the 747. The agreement is still subject to Chinese government approval.
“Air China has been operating 747s since the 1980s,” says Air China Vice-President He Li. “The new, high capacity Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental will deliver exceptional economics and a great flying experience to our customers."
The Chinese flag carrier says it will use the aircraft to expand international services.
"Air China has become one of the fastest growing airlines in the world and today is one of the world's largest carriers,” says Marlin Dailey, Boeing’s vice-president of sales and marketing. “We're proud to be part of their success.”
The agreement with Air China increases the total order book for the passenger version of the 747-8I to 38, including earlier orders from Korean Air, Lufthansa and VIP customers. The 747-8 Freighter version has proved more popular to date, collecting 74 orders.
The 747-8I carries 467 passengers in a three-class layout, features a new wing and an upgraded flight deck. The jetliner is powered by General Electric GEnx-2B engines, offering lower noise, fewer emissions and better fuel economy. The aircraft also offers a 26 percent boost in cargo volume.
The same day, Hong Kong Airlines signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the US aircraft manufacturer to purchase 38 aircraft, including six 777 Freighters, 30 787-9s and two 787-8, configured for VIP services.
“We have been waiting for the 787 for a long while, and we are very happy to finally order this aircraft,” says HNA Group Chairman Adam Tan.
Boeing says the order “will enhance Hong Kong Airlines’ ability to match the demands of the different markets it serves, and connect its long-haul network to local sources of demand”.
The US company adds it is still working with the airline to finalize the agreement.
Adding further to its order tally at the show, Boeing announced on 9 March that Hong Kong’s largest airline Cathay Pacific Airways had ordered ten Boeing 777-300ER jetliners, valued at US$2.8 billion at list price.
Cathay Pacific initially announced its selection of the 777-300ER for its fleet in 2005. The latest order increase the carrier’s planned fleet of the type from 36 to 46 aircraft, including four leased. The agreement is Cathay’s fifth increase in its acquisition plans for the long-range jetliner.
"Cathay Pacific … has made the 777-300ER the foundation of its significant fleet enhancement for long-haul routes," says Boeing’s Dailey. The Boeing 777-300ER forms the backbone of Cathay’s ultra-long-haul and long-haul fleet, mainly serving destinations in North America and Europe.
“The Asia-Pacific region is the world's fastest-growing aviation market and Cathay Pacific is well positioned in Hong Kong to take advantage of this blooming market to grow our business,” says the airline’s Chief Executive Officer Tony Tyler. “Our newest 777 order highlights our continued commitment to developing Hong Kong's role as one of the world's leading international aviation hubs.”
The order from Hong Kong Airlines was part of a larger aircraft acquisition by the carrier’s parent, HNA Group, which owns Hainan Airlines, China’s fourth biggest airline and the country’s largest privately owned carrier.
HNA also signed MoUs with business jet manufacturers Gulfstream Aerospace and Dassault Falcon, covering five of the Gulfstream G450s and G550s, as well as five Falcon 7X large-cabin aircraft.