Boeing lifts estimate of 20-year demand for jetliners to $5.2 trillion

Boeing sees commercial jet market totaling $5.2 trillion over next 20 years

Anticipating a growing role for low-cost airlines in commercial aviation, Boeing Co. upped its long-term forecast of worldwide demand for aircraft by 4.2% to more than 36,700 new planes.

Deliveries of new aircraft could total $5.2 trillion over the next two decades, up from a $4.8-trillion projection Boeing made last year, the Chicago-based aircraft maker said Thursday. More than $2.5 trillion is expected to come from orders for mid-size jets such as Boeing’s 737 and Airbus’ A320.

Boeing's 20-year forecast, released annually since 1964, provides a snapshot of how the aerospace giant sees the worldwide marketplace for commercial jets. As in recent years, the demand for more fuel-efficient mid-size aircraft is expected to remain high as carriers seek to expand their networks while keeping costs low.

Orders for single-aisle aircraft, which typically seat 90 to 230 passengers, are up 4.2% this year, said Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for commercial airplanes at Boeing. The mid-size workhorses make up 70% of the projected demand over the next two decades -- about 25,600 jets.

“That market has performed really well,” Tinseth said. “It’s truly the backbone of the aviation air transport system.”

Looking to the future, Tinseth said, low-cost airlines will play an “ever more important part of that segment,” and are expected to account for 40% of the demand for mid-size jets over the next 20 years, or about 10,300 units.

Boeing also raised its projection of demand for regional jets to 2,490 from 2,020 forecast last year.

At the same time, Boeing slightly reduced its demand estimates for wide-body jets, but Tinseth said it’s still expected to be robust. Most of the demand for wide-body models is expected to lean toward smaller frames and more efficient twin-engine models, as demand shifts from the largest jets.

But despite being a segment that “really has struggled to take hold,” Tinseth said orders for the largest jumbo jets seating more than 400 passengers are expected to reach $240 billion, or 620 jets, over the next 20 years.

In all, Boeing anticipates a doubling in the commercial fleet over the next two decades to more than 42,000 airplanes. About 58% of the demand is projected to come from emerging markets such as Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, with 42% coming from the U.S., Europe and Russia as carriers there seek to replace aging aircraft.

The forecast comes before next week’s Farnborough International Airshow in Britain. The five-day expo, which opens Monday, is one of the largest showcases where plane makers, airline executives and government officials from around the world gather to sign deals.

Twitter: @chadgarland

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