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Boeing takes long view of airliner market

 - June 14, 2009, 1:38 AM

The world’s passenger and cargo airlines will spend money on new aircraft at an average rate of just over $5,000 per second over the coming 20 years, according to Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Or, to put it another way, the U.S. manufacturer forecasts a $3.2 trillion market requirement involving some 29,000 commercial jetliners (including 710 new freighters) between 2009 and 2028.

Boeing analysts predict that all sectors of the market except that for single-aisle aircraft with more than 99 seats will require fewer aircraft in the forecast period than was the case 12 months ago. For what is thought to be the first time, at least in this decade, the company’s current market outlook (CMO), published last week, sees an overall year-on-year decline in perceived demand, while the 20-year market value remains unchanged from 2008. The reduced requirement–down from 29,400 last year to 29,000– takes account of global economic recession, unpredictable fuel prices and declining passenger and cargo traffic.

Nevertheless, the manufacturer draws encouragement from the market’s historic record of bouncing back after a recession. “While the commercial aviation industry is facing a significant downturn, it is cyclic and has a long history of declines and upturns,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes marketing vice president Randy Tinseth.
“Over the past 30 years, through both tough and good times, traffic growth has averaged more than five percent per year, demonstrating the resilience of the market,” said Tinseth. “The long-term outlook points to the next 20 years as being a time in which we see fundamental underlying factors supporting a strong need for new airplanes.”

The company again predicts a slightly smaller global fleet in 2028 than it foresaw 12 months ago for 2027–35,600 compared with 35,800 (which was a reduction on the 36,400 aircraft for 2026 predicted by Boeing two years ago). Tinseth said numbers of aircraft will grow at 3.1 to 3.2 percent per year, essentially similar to Boeing’s forecast 3.1-percent average worldwide economic growth for the period. At the same time, passenger numbers will grow by 4.1 percent annually, while traffic (revenue-passenger-miles per kilometer) will increase by 4.9 percent a year, reflecting rising average sector lengths.

Boeing analysts say that in the long term, requirements will stabilize and economic growth will return. Demand globally remains strong for more efficient commercial airplanes, driven by high fuel prices, aging fleets and environmental concerns, according to Boeing.

“The U.S. and Europe will see more replacement airplanes as less efficient jets are retired,” according to Boeing, which also sees “robust” growth in China, the Middle East and India. “Other emerging markets with dynamic populations and growing incomes will lead toward a more balanced airplane demand worldwide,” the report stated.

The secret to airline growth lies in carriers offering “more flight choices, lower fares and direct access to [more] destinations,” according to Boeing, which said service frequency is more important than absolute capacity. “[Airlines] will focus on offering more flights using more efficient airplanes, rather than on using significantly larger airplanes.”

Single-aisle airplanes will account for two thirds of the new aircraft, driven by “the large European and North American domestic markets and growth in local markets in Asia/Pacific.” Twin-aisle airliners will represent the largest market share
by value; some 40 percent of demand is perceived by Boeing as coming from Asia/Pacific, with a further 23-percent share from European operators.
The forecast suggests that with expanding requirements in Asia/ Pacific, the region will grow to become the largest market, accounting for 31 percent (8,960) of new deliveries and 36 percent of the forecast future-market value ($1.13 billion). The U.S. manufacturer foresees air travel to, from and within Asia/Pacific as expanding from just under a third of the present worldwide market to 41 percent by 2028.

Turning to the air cargo business, Boeing analysts predict that such traffic will grow at an average 5.4-percent annual rate through the 20-year forecast period almost trebling by 2028, thus compensating for recent downward trends. “World air cargo traffic fell about 6 percent in 2008, compared to 2007,” according to the company, which foresees an 11-percent decline in global industrial production leading to lower cargo traffic activity for 2009.

Boeing expects the world air-freighter fleet to grow by two thirds, from 1,940 to 3,250 aircraft, with 2,760 deliveries worth $170 billion at 2008 catalog prices.
Overall, the manufacturer forecasts that passenger and cargo airlines will receive 2,100 regional jets (valued at $70 billion), 19,460 single-aisle machines ($1.42 trillion), 6,700 twin-aisle units ($1.51 trillion) and 740 large 747/A380-size aircraft ($220 billion).