Special Interview on Commercial Aviation & Turkish Market with Simon Ward, Head of Airbus Türkiye
Ayşe Akalın: Could you give us an overview of 2022’s first 9 months from Airbus point of view? Could you provide a capsule summary of your major activities carried out during the first 9 months of 2022 in Türkiye?
Simon Ward: Following the pandemic the aviation sector began to recover quite quickly, during the summer, air-travel demand came back faster and stronger than many expected in spite of high fuel prices, and Turkey is one of the countries where we see one of the fastest recoveries. Turkey achieved the same passenger numbers as before the pandemic very quickly and even exceeded them.
Airbus delivered a solid nine-month performance . We continue to see a lot of demand for our latest-generation fuel-efficient aircraft. And we continue to deliver even if we have to operate in a complex environment : the supply chain remains fragile, resulting from the cumulative impact of COVID, the war in Ukraine, energy-supply issues, constraints, labour markets and others.
We have many ongoing projects with Turkey at the moment and Turkey has been an integral part of Airbus supply chain for nearly 40 years. Every commercial Airbus aircraft flying today, including the brand new A220, has Turkish parts on them.
Ayşe Akalın: Within the scope of İstanbul Airshow on October 7, 2022 the Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Declaration Signing Ceremony was held with the participation of Turkish Airlines, Rolls-Royce and Airbus. By signing the Global SAF Declaration with Rolls-Royce and Airbus, Turkish Airlines (THY) pledged to increase its usage of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) to the highest. Can you elaborate on the goals of SAF Declaration and importance of THY’s joining Rolls-Royce, Airbus and Safran in the Global SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) Declaration as one of the co-signatories? What kind of cooperation will be established among the companies under this signature?
Simon Ward: At Airbus, we recognise the value that our business brings to people, to economies, and to nations, but we are equally conscious of our obligations to society, to the environment, and to future generations.
Airbus, is committed to leading the decarbonisation of the aerospace sector in cooperation with partners across the entire aviation sector. We will contribute to achieving the long-term climate goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and SAF is considered as a key decarbonisation pillar to meet the net zero emissions goal by 2050.
Since 2008, Airbus has been actively involved in the approval process for new fuel pathways, demonstration projects and flights, through partnerships and political advocacy of SAF.
Currently, all Airbus commercial aircraft are capable of flying with up to 50 percent SAF blend mixed with kerosene (equivalent JET A1).
The need to increase the use of sustainable aviation fuel is there . This is what we are doing with our SAF Declaration partnerships. Ensuring a sustainable future for our industry has become the priority for Airbus, especially as we move out of the challenges we have faced during the pandemic.
Airlines and aircraft manufacturers cannot solve zero emissions alone but can and should act as the catalysts for the profound changes that are required.There is a need to have a viable industrial system to produce and commercialise these energy sources near to key hubs around the world.
Airbus supports the EU Green deal objectives of carbon neutrality in 2050 and a 55 per cent reduction in CO2 by 2030. The Destination 2050 initiative provides a clear roadmap for aviation to achieve these objectives.
Airbus will be a strategic actor in the implementation of this roadmap and we welcome those initiatives and policies which encourage efficiency and innovation, including ambitious targets to scale sustainable aviation fuels.
Ayşe Akalın: What can you tell us about Airbus’ participation at İstanbul Airshow (AIREX) 2022? Did the Fair meet your expectations?
Turkey is a strategic partner for Airbus. Today, Türkiye is the 3rd largest Airbus market in Europe with more than 300 Airbus passenger and freighter aircraft in service with nine operators. In total, more than 120 aircraft remain in the order book to be delivered to airlines in Türkiye.
We are always looking for new opportunities to increase our partnership with Turkiye and what better opportunity to meet our partners during Istanbul Airshow and show our products and share information with possible partners.
We were very pleased to see the attention for our products during the airshow. We received many visitors to the A220. We would also especially like to give our thanks to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Mr. Adil Karaosmanoglu for visiting the A220 and our booth.
Ayşe Akalın: At İstanbul Airshow (AIREX), Airbus displayed A220-300 regional jet of airBaltic, which starting from April 2023, will carry its passengers to and from Istanbul as a part of its 2023 schedule. As demand for air travel soars following the pandemic, Turkish Airlines (THY) is said to be on course to order 30 regional aircraft to support its continued growth. THY was previously interested in both the Airbus A220 and Embraer 195-E2 regional jets. Can you elaborate on the technical features of A220-300 single aisle aircraft and why and on how it is well-suited to THY’s regional operation?
Simon Ward: A220 is a clean sheet design tailored for the 100-150 seat market, making it the best choice for Turkish Airlines regional fleet.
Thanks to its all new efficient design the A220 offers efficient aerodynamics, advanced materials, new engines, simple and robust systems and superior cabin comfort with 25% lower fuel burn per seat and 25% advantage in COC per seat (vs. previous generation of aircraft).
Today every Airbus commercial aircraft flying has Turkish parts on them. This is also true of the A220. Türkiye designs and manufactures components such as Fixed Trailing Edge (part of the wing), canopy and harnesses, in total representing five percent of an A220 by value. Every A220 order adds to the growth and supports the Turkish aerospace industry and the Turkish economy.
The A220 offers high versatility and flexibility to its operators (being operated on flights going from 30 minutes to seven hours). With over 220 aircraft in service (having accumulated more than 1,000,000 flight hours!) being operated on 800+ routes to 325+ destinations, making it the proven choice for airlines to efficiently connect passengers on regional and long-distance routes.
Ayşe Akalın: In 2022 commercial aviation has started to recover from impacts of COVID-19 pandemic but this time even the rapid increase has been experienced in demand it exceeded the global industry’s ability to adapt and maintain adequate service to this demand. Do you expect the current supply chain problems, that mainly stems from labor shortages at medium and small suppliers, will continue also in 2023?
Simon Ward: There is no simple source of issues and therefore no identified systemic root cause. The global supply chain and the different tiers of our value chain each face very different singular events
We are working together with our suppliers to mitigate the impact of the current situation on our supply chain and we remain focused on our ramp-up plans .
There are cases of suppliers facing difficulties (issues with raw materials, transportation and logistics (cost and availability, labour resources ....)
This is anticipated, monitored and managed. We have mitigations and protection measures in place, and we manage these closely on a case by case basis.
Our attention is focused to ensure that the demand expressed to the supply chain is well synchronised with the overall production flows and that demand fluctuations are avoided.
Ayşe Akalın: What can you tell us about the current status of your technological cooperation with Turkish suppliers and Airbus’ supply chain here in Türkiye? Can you elaborate on the current value of annual purchases from Türkiye/Turkish suppliers and targets for the future?
Simon Ward: Türkiye has been an integral part of Airbus supply chain for more than 20 years, being a partner in all Airbus aircraft programmes, from the A220, A320 to the prestigious A350 including our military aircraft A400M and previously to the world’s largest commercial airliner A380. Turkish aeronautical industries progressively embarked on high capabilities and skills in the last 10 years and Airbus is focused on the continued development of long-term cooperation projects with the Turkish aviation industry.
Türkiye suppliers are not only present on Airbus programmes with Turkish Aerospace. In association with Turkish Aerospace, Airbus has contributed to the development and the qualification of SMEs, thus also contributing to the industrial network of Turkish aeronautics. Türkish industry is also delivering engine parts and cabin equipment demonstrating the diversity of Türkiye capabilities.
ADS has successfully leveraged its support partnership on A400M through a strong on ground technical support team providing hands-on training and support in Kayseri for the maintenance of the A400M providing operational availability, in excess of 85%, which is the benchmark for the global A400M fleet.
In the course of cooperation, Airbus generates more than 3000 direct jobs in the Turkish aeronautical industry (estimated to be more than 10,000 indirect) and continues to develop its sourcing in Türkiye to procure a cumulative volume of $5 Billion turnover from Turkish suppliers between 2020 and 2030.
Ayşe Akalın: Can you elaborate on where Türkiye falls in the strategies of Airbus, in out-sourcing and building up a global supplier network and how could Türkiye contribute better to Airbus in establishing a sustainable supply chain?
Simon Ward: If we exclude our home nations such UK, France, Germany and Spain, Türkiye is in the top ten supply countries for Airbus. In terms of growing the footprint in Türkiye, Airbus’ ambition (Pioneering sustainable aerospace for a safe and united world) very much supports the vision to continue to grow our activities in Türkiye.
Türkiye is a strategic country for Airbus with competitive and capable suppliers. The Türkiye geographical situation is not only an advantage for the airlines to serve worldwide routes but also for the supply chain.
When we talk about sustainability, Türkiye proximity to Europe and Airbus FALs could become an advantage to contribute to the Airbus sustainability ambition. In the short term we are focused on developing a SAF supply chain in Türkiye and also increasing the pilot training capabilities.
Ayşe Akalın: By 2030, 60% of the world's population will be urban. This significant population growth is expected to create a real need for innovative mobility options as ground infrastructure becomes increasingly congested. How does Airbus approach Urban Air Mobility (UAM)? What can you say about Airbus’ ongoing efforts, such as CityAirbus NextGen, within the scope of Urban Air Mobility?
Simon Ward: UAM is much more than just a vehicle. It is a full and complete value chain where the ground infrastructure is as important. With partners and regulators, we are co-designing vertiports and ground segments to ensure optimal and safe operations.
UAM being a “point to point” mobility solution (on the contrary with “linear” mobility solution), setting up infrastructures can be cheaper and faster than enlarging the public transportation system in an existing area. You don't need to block roads, bridges, cable cars or dig tunnels.
UAM will be a complementary layer to a city's mobility options and part of the urban development strategy. This is why our engagements and partnerships with cities are important to ensure that this new mode of transportation will provide value to the end-customer while being created and accepted with the surrounding communities onboard.
In many parts of the world, eVTOLs will offer a whole new mobility service in the near future. We are aware that the introduction of such a system requires the cooperation of many players with different competences. To contribute to the development of advanced air mobility, we are partnering with leading companies, universities, and research institutions as well as municipalities. Our goal is to build a transport service that benefits society.
Ayşe Akalın: Thank you for the interview .