The world’s largest planemakers, Boeing and Airbus, have both released their demand forecasts for the next 20 years, with Asia Pacific cited as the largest growing market for passenger aircraft in the world.
Boeing Company said today that the Asia Pacific region’s air traffic growth will exceed the world average by a large margin over the next two decades. In a media briefing today at Asian Aerospace 2011, Randy Tinseth, Vice President of Marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said the region’s air traffic growth is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 6.8 percent over the next 20 years, compared to the world average of 5.3 percent.
“Asia Pacific will account for one-third (10,320) of new airplane deliveries worldwide over the period,” Tinseth said. “This demand is driven by the fact that Asia Pacific will account for 44 percent of travel in 20 years’ time, up from around 34 percent today.
“China’s air travel growth is even more dramatic, with an 8.6 percent increase over the next two decades. This is sweet music to an airplane manufacturer’s ears,” he added.
Airbus meanwhile, predicted that the size of aircraft serving the Asia-Pacific region would grow larger in the coming decades, responding to strong growth in demand from the region, which it estimated would account for one-third of the world’s passenger traffic by 2029.
Also speaking at the Hong Kong event, Chris Emerson, Airbus’ Senior Vice President Product Strategy & Market Forecast, said that the trend towards larger jetliners reflects the concentration of regional populations around main urban centres, as well as the need for more seats between fast-growing ‘megacities’.
Airbus predicted that Asia Pacific carriers operators will acquire some 3,360 new widebody aircraft over the next two decades – representing 40 percent of all such global deliveries. In particular, Airbus forecast a need for 780 very large aircraft such as the A380, and 2,580 twin-aisle widebodies, such as the company’s A330 and new A350 XWB.
Boeing forecast that airlines worldwide will need 30,900 new passenger and freighter aircraft over the next 20 years, valued at US$3.6 trillion. 44 percent of these aircraft will replace older, less-efficient airplanes, while 56 percent will account for new aircraft needed to meet air traffic growth. The world fleet is projected to double from 18,890 to 36,300 aircraft during this period.
“The near doubling of the world fleet size is an indicator that airlines not only will plan for growth, but will take the economically rational step of modernising their fleets as a hedge against high and unpredictable oil prices,” Tinseth said.
“The global economic recovery is helping airlines rebuild their balance sheets, leading toward a demand for newer, fuel efficient and environmentally progressive airplanes worldwide.”
Tinseth said that the biggest demand in the fastest growing markets will be for single-aisle aircraft, such as the Boeing 737 or the Airbus A320.
“We’re spending a lot of time with our customers to understand their needs and preferences for an airplane that will serve the single-aisle market for the next 50 years,” Tinseth said.
While Boeing hasn’t made a decision on whether it will put a new engine on the 737 or instead develop a successor to the popular narrow-body plane, Tinseth said that if Boeing decides to build a new version of the 737, it likely would enter into service near the end of the decade.
“We are taking our time making this decision, analyzing all the technological data as well as what customers want,” Tinseth said. “We could make an announcement as early this summer.”