China will pass the US as the biggest air travel market within 10-15 years, driving a big rise in aircraft sales, the world’s largest jet maker says.
Boeing’s latest global industry report predicts airlines will need 42,700 aircraft over the next 20 years, up 3% on last year’s forecast.
Boeing valued the sales at $6.3 trillion (£4.8tn) at today’s prices
The closely-watched report was unveiled on day two of the Farnborough Airshow, where more orders were announced.
Despite trade tensions, rising oil prices, and hikes in interest rates, the Boeing forecast suggests no end to the near-decade long boom in aircraft sales. The production lines at Boeing and its European rival Airbus are already booked up for years ahead.
On Tuesday, Russian airline Volga Dnepr committed to buying Boeing freight aircraft worth $11.8bn at list prices, while Airbus announced a provisional deal with an unnamed customer for 100 of its A320 jets.
And US aircraft leasing company Air Lease Corp announced a commitment to order as many as 78 Boeing single-aisle and wide-body airplanes in a deal valued at $9.6bn at catalogue prices.
Boeing’s upbeat sales forecast underlined the importance of China to the aircraft industry. One in four of Boeing’s passenger aircraft went to Chinese customers last year.
The company’s commercial marketing chief, Randy Tinseth, told a press conference at Farnborough that he expected China to overtake the US as the world’s largest domestic air travel market within 10-15 years.
Also, he said, demand for cargo aircraft would also increase on the back of e-commerce, with Chinese traders and consumers accounting for the biggest single rise.
However, Mr Tinseth declined to comment on whether Boeing’s growth in China could be hindered by a trade war. “We are going to focus on what we can control,” he said.
The company’s sales forecast for the next two decades predicts a 5% rise to 31,360 in demand for single-aisle aircraft, such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 families, which are popular with low-cost airlines.
Sales in the larger, wide-bodied bracket were expected to fall by just 140 to 8,070 aircraft over the next 20 years, but only because longer-range single-aisle jets were eating into the market, Mr Tinseth said.
Boeing trimmed its forecast for the regional jet fleet to 2,320 deliveries. Competition in this sector is expected to intensify, as Airbus has taken over Bombardier’s C-Series aircraft programme and Boeing is buying Embraer.