KUALA LUMPUR: As demand for aircraft grows, the quantity of parts that Airbus will be buying from Malaysian suppliers will rise by 25% to the value of US$500mil over five years to 2021.
It currently stands at US$400mil and the suppliers that will produce the parts are Composites Technology Research Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Spirit Aerospace and Celestica.
Airbus, the French aircraft manufacturer, had predicted earlier that demand for aircraft would reach 13,640 in this region over 20 years at a value of US$2.2 trillion.
China continues to be the main buyer of aircraft in the region from both Airbus and Boeing.
“We will be buying 25% more, and the companies will have to ramp up production and increase output,” Airbus Commercial Aircraft president Fabrice Bregier told reporters yesterday at an Airbus press conference.
Bregier added that “we are committed to growing our presence in the coming years. The value of work here, except China, is by far the biggest procurement in Asia and it will only grow as our production grows”.
“This is a recognition of the high quality of work undertaken by Malaysian companies and workers, the country’s competitive cost base and its expertise in the aerospace engineering sector,” he said.
Malaysia is the fifth-largest supplier of parts to Airbus for its aircraft, and the second largest in Asia after China.
Apart from more aircraft parts led by higher aircraft orders, Airbus wants to expand further into the maintenance, repair and operation (MRO) area, given the need for quality MRO services in the region.
For now, it has a joint-venture maintenance unit, Sepang Aircraft Engineering (SAE), which specialises in the maintenance and overhaul of Airbus single-aisle aircraft, but opportunities exist for the A330-neo and A350.
“The form of expansion is not yet clear, but we definitely intend to extend the footprint of SAE. We are studying several possibilities,” he said.
Last year, there was market talk that AIRASIA was keen to be party with SAE in the MRO business, but the talk subsided after some time.
Currently, Airbus has some arrangements on MRO with Singapore Airlines on the A350, but Bregier said “we have several options (for more MRO services) and it depends on partners”.
AirAsia Group is one of Airbus’ biggest customers for several aircraft types such as the A330-neo and A350.
Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS) has ordered six A350 aircraft, two of which will be delivered this year, though a slight delay can be expected. Indonesia’s Lion Air Group, which has a stake in Malindo Air, is also one of Airbus’ biggest customers in the region.
MAS CEO Peter Bellew recently told StarBiz that the airline needed six more A330 or B787 aircraft with growing demand.
Over the next three to four years, he foresees MAS ordering about 35-36 new wide-body aircraft and players like Airbus and Boeing will be keen to get that business.
On this trip, Bregier is meeting both the CEOs of AirAsia and MAS.