Airlines look to invest in less fuel-hungry planes

The need to replace existing commercial aircraft with more efficient models will create demand for almost 30,000 new planes costing more than $3tr over the next two decades, Boeing has predicted.

The company’s latest outlook for the aviation industry forecasts that the world fleet will grow from 19,000 craft today to 35,800 in 2027, an annual increase of 3.2 per cent. This will be necessary, it says, to accommodate an expected 5 per cent annual increase in global air travel and similar growth in air cargo traffic.

The proportion that will replace existing planes has increased since Boeing’s last forecast to 43 per cent, up from 36 per cent, something the firm attributes to the decreasing economic viability of older aircraft at a time of high fuel costs.

The next 20 years will see a decline in demand for regional jets as capacity, economic and environmental constraints force airlines to ‘up gauge’. This trend, boosted by strong domestic and intra-regional air travel growth in emerging Asia-Pacific markets along with continued growth of low-cost carriers worldwide, will make single-aisle craft the largest segment by units, with 19,160 expected to be delivered at a cost of $1,360bn. Twin aisles will be the most significant by value, however. 6,750 will be produced, costing $1,470bn. The 747 and larger models will represent a small but significant market of 980 units valued at $290bn.

Together, that makes a total predicted market of 29,400 new airplanes valued at $3.2tr.

According to Randy Tinseth, Boeing’s marketing VP for commercial airplanes, the industry is facing a dynamic but more geographically diverse market.

"This year's forecast is rooted in today's realities, but also recognizes the nature of a long-term outlook," said Tinseth. "We're seeing an increasing share of airplane deliveries to the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the Middle East, Latin America, and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The result is a much more geographically balanced and more stable long-term market, which is less vulnerable to swings in regional economies or other variations in demand."

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