Boeing Forecasts Global Aircraft to Double by 2034 at Cost of $5.6 Trillion

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In its annual Current Market Outlook, Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) projects that the size of the global fleet of aircraft will grow from approximately 21,600 in 2014 to 43,560 in 2034. To meet the demand for new and retired aircraft, the industry will have to build and sell more than 38,000 new airplanes in the 20-year period.

The vast majority of the new planes will be single-aisle, narrow-body jets, of which Airbus’s A320 and A321 families and Boeing’s 737 family are the industry leaders. Boeing projects demand for 26,730 narrow-body jets, 70% of the overall total. This is good news for Airbus, which took orders for more than 1,500 narrow-bodies in 2014, compared with just under 1,100 orders for Boeing.

For larger dual-aisle wide-body jets, Boeing projects demand for 8,830 new planes in the period from 2014 to 2034. Even though the total is much smaller, the price of these planes nearly makes up the difference in volume with near parity in revenues. Boeing calculates that all wide-body planes sold over the 20-year period will have a total value of $2.70 trillion, compared $2.77 trillion for the narrow-body planes. Regional jets will account for $100 billion in global sales.

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Boeing noted that a strong indicator of demand for new airplanes is gross domestic product (GDP) and that the current forecast from researchers at IHS Economics calls for global GDP growth of 3.1% over the next 20 years. Emerging economies in Africa and Asia will push those regions above 4% GDP growth, while the developed countries of Europe and North America are expected to post GDP growth of 1.8% and 2.5%, respectively.

About 40% of the new planes that will be built in the next 20 years will be sold in Asia, another 40% will meet demand from Europe and North America, and the remainder will be sold in the rest of the world. Boeing’s projections for replacement planes are based on a replacement rate that averages 2% to 4% annually, or around 350 to 400 narrow-bodies and 150 to 200 wide-bodies. Regional jets add about 100 to the replacement totals. Boeing reckons than fleet replacement will account for about 42% of global demand:

Since fleet replacement is largely less optional than fleet growth, it provides a solid, stable base for long-term demand for new airplanes. The two largest fleet domiciles, Europe and North America, are expected to need well over 50 percent of their new deliveries to replace older, less efficient airplanes, as are the mature Northeast Asia and Oceania regions, thereby balancing the growth across emerging and developing markets in Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

One area where Airbus and Boeing differ is over the market for large wide-bodies like Boeing’s 747 and Airbus’s A380. Boeing sees the total fleet for these giants dropping from 740 last year to 670 in 2034. In its market outlook last year, Airbus forecast a total market of 1,501 for the large wide-bodies.

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