Chinese copter market in rapid recovery: Airbus executive
Published: Nov 24, 2020 08:02 PM

An Airbus helicopter is in place ahead of the kickoff of the China Helicopter Expo 2019. More than 415 enterprises from 17 countries and regions have registered for the expo, up 3 percent year-on-year. Photo: Courtesy of Airbus

The Chinese helicopter market is making a recovery, although flying hours this year will see a slight decline compared with previous years, the managing director of Airbus Helicopters China said on Tuesday.

Flying hours of customers in China declined in January and February, but the market flattened out in March and then even saw an uptrend, Marie-Agnes Veve, general manager of Airbus Helicopters China, said on Tuesday. 

Flying hours in China in the second quarter were even higher than the same period last year, Veve said.

She predicted that flying hours will recover to a normal level by year-end, but flying hours for the full year will drop by 5-10 percent, partly due to the impact of the virus at the beginning of the year. 

Airbus Helicopters is a subsidiary of Airbus and the world's largest helicopter manufacturer. It received 369 orders in 2019 with a market share of 54 percent, based on the number of orders, plus after-sales service and support orders totaling more than 7 billion euros ($8.31 billion).

The COVID-19 epidemic also affected the helicopter market, as flying hours for Airbus around the globe were down 15 percent year-on-year by now, mainly in the areas of tourism and private missions, Veve said. 

In comparison, each segment of helicopter use in China has been rising. The oil and gas market was not halted by the virus, and the public services segment has also shown a recovery, she noted. 

The civilian market share for helicopters in China held by Airbus was 35 percent as of the end of October, with 88 customers. The company's market share in China ranked first.

The H135 assembly line in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province opened in April last year, and the first fully Qingdao assembled H135 rolled out in September this year. 

It is expected that the factory in Qingdao will deliver seven H135 helicopters this year, rising to 11 next year.

Airbus Helicopters has become China's largest partner in the helicopter field in the past 50 years, and China has a big demand in fields such as search and rescue, emergency medical services and general aviation transportation, which has been a driving force for our growth in China, Veve added.