Following a gloomy year of falling air traffic demand and roiled financial markets, Boeing Co. raised its 20-year industry forecast for new commercial aircraft on Thursday to reflect the recovering global economy.
By 2029, the Chicago-based manufacturer predicted the global fleet would expand some 64% to 30,900 aircraft from 18,890 today, a $3.6 trillion opportunity for the builders of passenger and cargo jetliners.
That’s up from the past year’s industry forecast of 29,000 at $3.2 trillion when global air traffic was projected to fall 4% for the year.
Driving the growth will be new opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly for single-aisle jets, according to Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
“Demand for single-aisle aircraft, such as the 737 and the A320, has been much stronger than expected,” said Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We significantly underestimated the demand for the period.”
The A320 is built by Boeing rival Airbus, a subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co.
Of the 30,900 airplanes expected to be delivered, about 47% will be single-aisle jets, which typically seat 100 to 200 people. About 45% of deliveries will be for wide-body planes, which can sit 200 to 600 people.
Most of the new demand for narrow-body planes comes from the proliferation of low-cost airlines and emerging markets such as China, Tinseth said.
Traffic for the Asia-Pacific region is forecast to grow, on average, by 7.1% annually, far outpacing North American growth of 2.8% and becoming the world’s dominant aerospace marketplace within 20 years.
By 2029, some 43% of al flights are expected to originate from the Asia-Pacific region, Tinseth said. By then the region will also be the largest buyer of wide-body jets at about 40% of total demand.
The North American and European markets will still be buying new airplanes, too, primarily to retire their aging, less fuel efficient fleets.
The world freighter fleet, a market worth up to $180 billion, is expected by Boeing to expand to 2,980 planes from 1,750 currently.
Globally, air traffic this year is growing rapidly as the world’s economy and businesses recover and trade expands. Over the long term, Boeing expects passenger traffic to rise 5.3% annually, driven by emerging markets, particularly China, India and Southeast Asia.
Boeing expects the global economy will rise about 3.2% a year on average during the 20-year period, but if economic growth exceeds expectations, it said the world’s airlines could demand up to 36,300 new planes.