Spurred by a growing middle class, strong low-cost-carrier (LCC) market and appreciating currencies, Boeing now projects a demand for 4,210 airliners valued at $650 billion in its latest Southeast Asia market outlook. The new forecast reflects an increase of 460 aircraft worth $90 billion compared with last year’s projection, already the highest of any region.
Boeing expects that over the next 20 years, Southeast Asian GDP will grow by 4.4 percent, far above the global average of 2.8 percent. Southeast Asian currencies such as the Thai baht have appreciated from the turn of the calendar year, and even the Malaysian Ringgit has recovered. The outlook also predicts traffic within the region will grow by 7.2 percent annually, accounting for the strongest traffic increases; followed by flights to China and Northeast Asia.
The region will require 3,230 single-aisle airplanes over the period, accounting for the bulk of aircraft demand, according to Boeing. Southeast Asia alone accounts for a backlog of more than 350 Boeing 737 Max narrowbodies, including orders for 218 from the Lion Air Group. Dinesh Keskar, Boeing Commercial Airplanes senior vice president of Asia-Pacific and India sales, noted that 20 years ago, widebodies drew the bulk of the demand in the region. The trend has flipped, he said, due to the explosive growth of LCC and regional carriers.
Keskar told reporters at Boeing’s Singapore regional office that he hopes the company converts a tentative deal with Malaysia Airlines covering eight 737 Max jets and eight 787-9s to a firm order by the end of the year. The sides inked the MOU on September 13, during a visit to Washington by Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.
Keskar also expressed confidence that infrastructure development will eventually catch up with the surge in demand. “The infrastructure in Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia have to grow, and will grow,” he insisted. “There are commitments from governments to do so, as aviation is the biggest source of tourism and moving people and cargo.”