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Bombardier expects strong China market


HONG KONG (AP) - Plane maker Bombardier Inc expects strong

demand from China as domestic air and business travel grows and the need for

smaller-sized aircraft rises, executives said Tuesday.

The company expects China to need 1,660 aircraft with capacity for up to 149 passengers over the next 20 years, said Trung Ngo, Bombardier Aerospace vice president for marketing and communications, who was attending the Hong Kong air show.

In June Bombardier, the world's No. 4 plane maker and a specialist in smaller planes, said it would partner with Chinese counterpart China Aviation Industry Corp. I, or AVIC I, to develop a 90- to 149-seat commercial airplane.

The agreement covers AVIC I's own five-abreast ARJ21-900 aircraft and Bombardier's proposed C-Series aircraft.

Ngo said despite Bombardier's technical assistance to AVIC I, demand for smaller aircraft in China is large enough for both companies to thrive.

"The demand from China is very large and the rest of the world's market is big, so we don't see ourselves in conflict at all," he said.

The project to build the ARJ-21 - a passenger jet seating up to 85 that will be China's first homegrown commercial aircraft - aims to make state-owned AVIC I a competitor to other makers of smaller passenger jets, such as Bombardier and Brazil's Embraer SA, while laying the groundwork for the development of a Chinese commercial jet of twice the size.

AVIC I says the ARJ-21 is expected to grab up to 60 percent of the domestic market for mid-size regional airliners over the next 20 years.

China will need about 900 mid-sized regional jets over the next two decades, AVIC I estimates, as economic growth drives an expansion of air travel and airlines look for planes tailored for feeder routes.

Separately, David Dixon, Bombardier vice president for sales, said he expects demand in China for private jets to grow "exponentially" as Chinese companies expand abroad.

"Instead of being a recipient of inbound investment, now it is going out. They have to go these markets. They are going to see the value of having that flexibility," he told The Associated Press at the air show.

Dixon said Montreal-based Bombardier has received 200 orders for its private jets worldwide in the first two quarters this year, with seven coming from Greater China, which includes mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

He wouldn't break down how many orders the company received from mainland China.

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