x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Airbus Military looks to Middle East and Asia-Pacific for growth

Airbus Military, an EADS unit, expects rising regional demand for its latest military transport aircraft.

Ian Elliott, the head of defence capability market development at Airbus Military, expects new orders for A400Ms over the next 30 years with some coming from the Middle East. Sarah Dea / The National
Ian Elliott, the head of defence capability market development at Airbus Military, expects new orders for A400Ms over the next 30 years with some coming from the Middle East. Sarah Dea / The National

Airbus Military, a Madrid-based unit of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) expects rising regional demand for its latest military transport aircraft following orders from European air forces.

The A400M aircraft, which the Airbus unit took a decade to develop, can transport 37,000 kilograms of freight and 54 passengers simultaneously and can also land in a battle zone.

Airbus Military is marketing the versatility of the aircraft at Dubai Airshow for the first time, as it regards the Middle East and Asia-Pacific region as key areas for growth.

“We expect new orders for 200 to 300 A400Ms over the next 30 years, and of that 25 from the Middle East,” said Ian Elliott, the head of defence capability market development at Airbus Military. “We expect to get a new order by the end of next year,” he added, declining to specify which countries were interested.

Currently, Airbus Military has orders of 174 units, including 50 from France, of which two have been delivered; 53 from Germany, of which two are expected to be delivered by the end of the month; 22 from the United Kingdom; 27 from Spain; 10 from Turkey; seven from Belgium and Luxembourg; and four from Malaysia.

Ageing military transport fleets around the region represent an opportunity for the supplier, which has about a third of the market in heavy duty military transport aircraft. Mr Elliott also referred to the UAE and Qatar’s humanitarian work that might lead to orders of A400M airlifters.

“The requirements for European army and air forces were that they can move heavy equipment because of their growing inventory and after their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Mr Elliott said. “But we are trying not to customise it for every country as it adds to the cost and complexity.”

About 10 per cent of Airbus revenues come from the Middle East.

In the first nine months, EADS posted revenues of €40 billion (Dh198.3bn), up 7 per cent from last year, of which Airbus contributed €28.7bn.

EADS reported earnings before interest and tax, goodwill impairment and exceptionals of €663 million in the third quarter, up from €526m last year. Sales for EADS grew 11 per cent to €13.63bn. But the conglomerate lowered its cash flow for this year, expecting a negative free cash flow of €1.5bn, according to Britain’s Financial Times.

ssahoo@thenational.ae