SINGAPORE -- Asia's largest air show is in full swing here, with civilian and military manufacturers jostling for a piece of the region's growing market.
Major deals underway at this year's Singapore Airshow include an order for up to 100 planes from European giant Airbus by VietJetAir, a low-cost carrier and Vietnam's first private airline. The order includes 63 smaller aircraft costing a total of $6.4 billion, among them the new A320neo from Airbus. Purchase rights and leases make up the remainder of the agreement. VietJetAir has plans for expanding into Thailand as well.
Budget carrier Nok Air, a subsidiary of a major Thai airline, has solidified plans to buy 15 aircraft from Boeing.
Airplane demand is strong among Asian low-cost carriers and new airlines. Boeing expects the Asia-Pacific fleets to nearly triple from the 2012 level to 14,750 aircraft in 2032. Asia had no budget carriers in 2002, but they accounted for 10% of transport capacity in 2012 and are seen at 20% in 2032.
Canada's Bombardier has announced plans to join forces with China's Sutong Airlines to set up a pilot-training center in Jiangsu Province. Sutong ordered 30 Q400 aircraft from Bombardier at the end of last year.
Military aircraft are drawing particular notice at this year's event, with a number of defense officials and military officers from Asia, the U.S. and elsewhere in attendance. Defense budget cuts in Europe and the U.S. have led to Asia being dubbed the remaining growth market.
Major European and American companies, such as Lockheed Martin, are showing off their latest fighters, unmanned reconnaissance craft, patrol aircraft and related technologies. Northrop Grumman is pitching the SABR high-performance radar system for the F-16, a fighter that Taiwan and others plan to purchase.
China also has a strong presence at the show. Military insiders from such countries as Bangladesh have stopped by the China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corp.'s exhibition.
Defense spending in Asia grew 11.6% between 2010 and 2013, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a British think tank.
Boeing's sales outside the U.S. swelled 30% last year. Chris Raymond, vice president of business development and strategy, notes that two or three Asian countries are showing interest in its P-8 anti-submarine patrol aircraft.
Firms from Asian countries are seeking assistance with production and technology transfers, according to a Lockheed executive.