Business

China plane maker Comac targets global market

Model of C919 aircraft
Image caption The C919 is expected to be 15% more fuel efficient than similar existing models.

Chinese plane maker Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) is planning to take on established players such as Boeing and Airbus as it targets the global aircraft market.

The company is expecting orders from international clients to start arriving as early as this year, its general manager Chen Jin told the BBC.

Comac is promoting its narrow-body C919 jet at the Hong Kong airshow.

It is due to have its first flight in 2014 and enter service two years later.

Regional growth

US and Europe have traditionally been the biggest air travel markets in the world.

It is no surprise then, that US and European plane manufacturers are among the biggest players in the industry.

But as the air travel industry in the Asia-Pacific region grows, the situation could change.

Passenger numbers in the region are forecast to grow by 5.8% in the next two decades, according to Airbus, which will mean growing demand for planes to carry them.

Airbus estimates that Asia will account for 33% of all aircraft orders in the next two decades, compared with a 26% share between 1990 and 2009.

Domestic demand

While it harbours international ambitions, Comac is fully aware of the potential for growth on its home turf.

China is forecast to be the fastest-growing market for air travel by 2014, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Mr Chen told the BBC that the company had very clear priorities.

"We are going to serve the China market first," Mr Chen said. "Over the next 20 years, for the Chinese market alone, we are forecasting an increase of 2,900 aircraft," he added.

Comac's first customers have been the main Chinese carriers.

Last year, it announced that Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines were the among six companies that had signed deals to buy the C919 planes.

The company said it had received orders for 100 aircraft.

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