Monday, December 17, 2007
Regional Jet Demand Shifts Upward
While regional jets remain the dominant products in the market, regional turboprop airliners are continuing to experience a remarkable resurgence in demand. Accounting for the revival of market interest in turboprops is a combination of factors, including continuing growth in air traffic, rising fuel prices, and a need on the part of regional airlines to cut costs and reduce fares in the face of low-fare carrier competition.
ATR and Bombardier have been busily ramping up production rates to meet the robust demand for their products. “ATR and Bombardier stayed in the regional turboprop business while many of their competitors were dropping out, and they are now reaping the rewards of their perseverance,” said Senior Aerospace Analyst Raymond Jaworowski.
Looking to further take advantage of the robust market demand, ATR recently launched enhanced -600 versions of its 50-seat ATR 42 and 70-seat ATR 72 turboprops and has begun considering development of a 90-seat model. Bombardier, meanwhile, has been mulling the possible launch of a 90-seat version of its 70-seat Q400 turboprop.
As for jet-powered aircraft, regional jet demand has been shifting ever upward to larger-capacity aircraft. The market for 50-seat regional jets is but a slim shadow of what it was in the late 1990s, and demand is currently concentrated on 70-seat and, especially, 90-seat aircraft. However, scope clauses in airline pilot contracts remain an artificial constraint on sales of 90- to 125-seat regional jets, and an easing of this situation is needed before the market can reach its full potential, said Jaworowski.
Bombardier and Embraer currently dominate the regional jet market. With a product line stretching to 122 seats, Embraer is the better-positioned of the two to take advantage of the trend toward larger aircraft. Bombardier’s current regional jet line tops out at around 100 seats, though the firm is contemplating launch of a 110-130 seat aircraft family called the CSeries. Meanwhile, new regional jet models such as the AVIC I ARJ21, the Sukhoi Superjet 100, and the Mitsubishi Regional Jet models are in development, and will challenge the Embraer and Bombardier products for sales.
The Forecast International study projects that, during the 2007-2016 time period, Embraer will produce 1,268 regional jets, a market share of 33.4 percent. Bombardier is projected to build 1,067 regional aircraft (jets and turboprops combined), a share of 28.1 percent. ATR is forecast to build 395 regional turboprops for a 10.4 percent market share. No other company is predicted to have a unit production share exceeding 10 percent. The value of Embraer production during the forecast period is $40.7 billion, for a 40.8 percent market share. Bombardier is projected to build $33.1 billion worth of regional aircraft, for a 33.2 percent share. The value of forecast ATR production is estimated at $7.0 billion, a seven percent share.