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BAE Systems Executive Predicts Growth of Regional Aircraft Freighter Fleet in Asia


Regional freighter feed aircraft will become a major force in Asian freighter markets, according to Steve Doughty, vice president sales and marketing for BAE Systems Regional Aircraft.

Speaking at the Air Freight Asia Conference in Hong Kong on September 5, Doughty pointed out that regional freighters are an integral part of developed cargo networks. As Asian economies flourish and consumer demand grows, so pressure for domestic air freight feeder networks will increase.

This has already been recognised by the major integrators who are taking steps to develop feeder networks in this market, notably in China.

However, with no regional/short-haul freighter aircraft in series production – a reflection of freighter economics - regulatory issues such as ageing aircraft regulations remain a potential barrier to the import of converted used freighters in this sector. There are also issues with potential congestion at key hubs, which may constrain the development of feeder networks.

Doughty argued that despite having five of the world’s top ten cargo airports measured by annual tonnage, and a further seven airports in the top 25, many with double digit growth, the Asian airfreight market is still developing. Air cargo in the region is geared to centralised industrial production and export, with feed typically provided through road transport or on passenger belly holds.

This contrasts with the situation in the more developed, but still growing, air freight networks in Europe and the USA where there are significant feeder networks which have evolved in response to consumer demand and diversification of production.

Doughty pointed out that this difference is revealed in the make-up of the European and Asian air cargo fleets. The European fleet is larger overall and includes some 450 regional freighters, while the Asian fleet, although smaller, has a larger long-haul freighter component. The regional freighter fleet in Asia numbers only around 80 aircraft.

He predicts that as pressures for domestic air freight networks grows so regulatory barriers will be changed to focus on to passenger fleets and as regional routes in the area are longer than in Europe, so the demand will gravitate to towards regional jet freighters, rather than turboprops.

Concluding, Doughty pointed out that BAE Systems Regional Aircraft has re-launched the BAe 146QT (Quiet Trader) freighter programme and this aircraft is “right-sized, right-priced and right-timed to meet the needs of this market.”


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