China has become Boeing Co's priority market amid the European debt crisis, said the US-based aircraft manufacturer as it launched a six-month world tour of its new aircraft in Beijing on Sunday.
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner, one of the world's largest aircraft, arrives at Beijing Capital International Airport on Sunday to start its global tour. The plane will fly to Guangzhou and Haikou before heading to Africa. [Photo/Xinhua]
It is the first time that Boeing has launched a new aircraft tour in China.
Through Dec 11, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner will stop in three Chinese cities - Beijing, Guangzhou and Haikou - before flying to Africa.
"The managers at our headquarters had a heated discussion about the first destination and I insisted on China, because it is our largest single market besides the US," said Ihssane Mounir, the company's senior vice-president of sales and marketing for Greater China and Korea.
Mounir said that China has the fastest-growing aviation market and will become the world's second-largest market, although it is also being affected by the economic slowdown in Europe and the United States.
Mature markets in developed countries have only shown 3 to 4 percent annual growth recently, Mounir said, but Boeing's business enjoys growth of 8 to 12 percent a year in developing countries, especially China and the Middle East.
Boeing didn't disclose its revenue in China last year, but Mounir said that the figure accounted for 50 percent of the market share in China.
"China is one of our top rising markets," he said.
Boeing is also promoting more wide-body aircraft, including the 787 Dreamliner, in China, said Marc Allen, Boeing China president, because Chinese carriers need to increase their competitiveness in the global market.
He said that Boeing especially designated the three stops of the 787 Dreamliner tour in China, where the 787 Dreamliner's current main customers are based.
"We want them to understand more about the aircraft before they receive it," Allen said.
The 787 Dreamliner is a wide-body aircraft with 200 to 300 seats.
Four Chinese airlines - Air China Ltd, China Southern Airlines Co Ltd, Hainan Airlines Co Ltd and Xiamen Airlines - ordered 41 787 Dreamliners.
The first of these planes will be delivered to China Southern in 2012. Boeing expects to get new orders for 787 Dreamliners in the next 18 months in China, Mounir said.
Air China, which ordered 15 aircraft, will start receiving its planes from the fourth quarter of 2015, Rao Xinyu, secretary of the board of the airline, told China Daily.
Air China's 787 Dreamliners will mainly fly on the North American routes and some European routes, Rao said.
Boeing has received 821 orders for 787 Dreamliners from 57 carriers worldwide, but the company only can produce two and a-half aircraft monthly on average. "We plan to enlarge our production capability to 10 a month by 2013 to meet the huge demand," said Randy Tinseth, vice-president of marketing of Boeing.1 2 Next