By Nicola Clarke
Published: 16 June 2011
Boeing on Thursday raised its long-range forecast for commercial aircraft demand, citing expectations that annual increases in passenger and cargo traffic, particularly in Asia, would continue to outpace average global economic growth over the next two decades.
The plane maker predicted that airlines would buy 33,500 new jets through 2030. That represented an increase of 8.5 percent from its previous forecast of 30,900 planes, made last July as airlines were just beginning to emerge from a downturn set off by the 2008-9 financial crisis.
Boeing, based in Chicago, said that the new orders would be worth $4 trillion, up 11 percent from the $3.6 trillion forecast a year ago.
“Not only is there a strong demand for air travel and new airplanes today,” said Randy Tinseth, vice president for marketing at Boeing’s commercial airplanes division, “but the fundamental drivers of air travel — including economic growth, world trade and liberalization — all point to a healthy long-term demand.”
The 20-year forecast from Boeing was announced in advance of the Paris Air Show, which opens Monday at Le Bourget Airport.
Airbus in December predicted sales of 26,000 commercial planes through the end of 2029, with a market value of $3.2 trillion.
The International Air Transport Association, a trade group based in Geneva, predicted this month that carriers would report a collective profit of about $4 billion this year after recording a $18 billion profit in 2010. The industry lost a combined $26 billion in the 2008-9 period.
Boeing predicted that global gross domestic product growth would average about 3.3 percent a year over the next 20 years, with the economies of China and India each expected to expand by about 7 percent annually. Global air traffic was likely to continue growing at an average yearly rate of just over 5 percent. Within the Asia-Pacific region, air traffic was likely to grow by an average of 7 percent a year, Boeing said, compared with just 2.3 percent annual growth within North America and 4 percent in Europe.
“We expect passenger traffic to almost triple over the next 20 years, while cargo will more than triple,” Mr. Tinseth said.
The majority of new aircraft sales — about 70 percent — would be of single-aisle planes like the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320, which normally seat about 150 to 200 passengers, Boeing said. Twin-aisle wide bodies like Airbus’s planned A350-XWB and the coming Boeing 787 Dreamliner would represent about 22 percent.
The single-aisle segment is the most hotly contested for both Boeing and Airbus, which each claim about 50 percent of the market. But the two companies are expected to begin to face competition at the beginning of the next decade when other manufacturers — including Bombardier of Canada and Embraer of Brazil — are expected to start deliveries of jets that can seat similar numbers of passengers.