Forecast Int’l Predicts ‘Restrained’ Growth in Regional Airliner Market

 - November 1, 2013, 1:05 AM

A new study released last month by Newtown, Conn.-based Forecast International projects “restrained growth” in the regional airliner market over the next 10 years, stemming from such factors as major-airline consolidation. The study projects gradual and steady growth between 2013 and 2020, followed by a cyclical downturn in 2021 and 2022 that will negatively affect delivery numbers.

All told, for the 10-year period, the market research firm predicts production of 4,035 regional jets and turboprops worth $141.8 billion in today’s currency. In the short and medium term, it expects rising air traffic on regional routes and the need for regional carriers to replace economically inefficient aircraft to fuel increasing market demand. However, it said, a climate of mainline consolidation is limiting growth as “too many airlines are chasing too few opportunities.”

According to the study, other factors that will hamper market growth include increasing government regulation and the maturation of the U.S. and European markets.

It also cited the continuing existence of scope clauses in major airline pilot contracts as perhaps the most critical factor limiting market growth. The maximum capacity allowed in most scope clauses in the U.S. market now stands at 76 seats.

“Scope clauses constitute an artificial barrier to natural growth in the regional jet market,” said Forecast International senior aerospace analyst Raymond Jaworowski. “Demand in the market is already trending toward larger-capacity aircraft and, in the absence of scope-clause limitations, this trend would strengthen and accelerate.”

Forecast International predicts that Bombardier will lead the market in number of aircraft produced during the period, while Embraer will lead in monetary value of production. The study expects Bombardier to produce 1,035 regional aircraft worth $47.7 billion during the forecast period, and Embraer to build 1,018 regional aircraft worth $49.5 billion. It ranks ATR third in both categories, predicting production of 668 aircraft worth $15.4 billion.