Competition Heats Up in Asia’s Aviation Sector

MRJ’S First Flight // Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp.

MRJ’S First Flight // Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp.

In Asia, aviation is a-booming. Both China and Japan debuted new passenger aircraft this month. Interestingly, both aircraft are being targeted at China’s growing aviation markets.
The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), which embarked on its maiden flight on the 11th of this month, is the first domestic passenger jet that Japan has produced in 50 years. Japan Airlines purchased 243 orders and Skywest, the world’s largest regional airline, placed 200 orders. Of the two jets, the MRJ is the smaller, seating between 70 and 90. The goal here is fuel-efficiency. In an age of increasing environmental awareness, a fuel-efficient aircraft has public opinion on its side.

 

COMAC

COMAC

Earlier this month, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) released its own domestically produced liner called the C919. Over 517 orders have already been placed on the plane from various airlines, including many regional Chinese ones. Whereas the MRJ is looking to offset fuel costs through fuel efficiency, the C919 is looking to do so through sheer passenger volume. It can seat between 158 and 174. However, many of the parts of the C919–from the engine to the landing gear system, electric power system and more–are manufactured by foreign companies.

It’s tough to say how the market share will pan out, though I place my money on Japan. Since the post-WWII moratorium on building aircraft, the country has really made a comeback in airplane production. They produce a staggering amount of parts for Boeing and have decades of producing aircraft for the US military. Even though Mitsubishi Aircraft is only seven years-old they are aiming to sell 5000 MRJs in the next several years. That’s impressive.
At any rate, it’s refreshing to see some new competition in an industry that is all-too-dominated by Boeing and Airbus.

Commercial Travel Trouble

These days, commercial air travel can be challenging. As world standards shift towards stronger security measures, and both domestic and international travel become casual commodity, people and airlines need to find a middle ground regarding what’s acceptable, what’s necessary, and what’s frankly too much to ask.

A major customer complaint is that airline seats seem to be getting closer and closer together. Legroom is shrinking as fast as overhead compartment space. While this complaint is indeed valid, unfortunately, due to high traffic volume and industry economy, air travel requires higher density. Although airlines are constantly searching for new ways to improve customer experience, they must also give in to the demands of high volume traffic. In the United States alone, approximately 1.73 million passengers fly domestically per day.

New-Air-Canada-route

International airlines like Air India, Singapore Airlines, and Emirates receive government sponsored subsidies that stabilize quality control. Unfortunately with the rising price of gas, United States airlines typically run on such low profit margins that on some routs, total profits can be as low as a single business class ticket. Services like Expedia and Travelocity allow customers to purchase tickets as low as $69 for a domestic flight giving them the ability to travel thousands of miles for the price of a long distance Uber ride.

This isn’t to say that patrons don’t deserve high quality in-flight service. An optimistic flight crew definitely helps ease an already tense atmosphere. Cleanliness and attentiveness also change the way individuals feel about their in-flight experience. While amenities differ from company to company (as well as quality of meal service), it’s clear that airlines with the most funding receive the better perks. As a customer, you have the right to feel comfortable (within reason) on the way to your destination. However, it is important to keep in mind that some flight attendants and crew members are treated poorly by their airlines and thus may not present the best service.

At the end of the day, the commercial airline industry can be akin to a dog chasing its own tail. Constantly behind the curve, airlines are receiving lists of upgrades faster than they can take flight. While the answers may not lie here, customers and airlines have to find a way to fix attitudes, change expectations, and work together to make commercial flight a more enjoyable experience.