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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

Middle East aircraft services market to reach $745bn by 2037, Boeing says

Lifecycle of Boeing 777s in Middle East provides opportunity to convert the widebodies into freighters

Etihad will take order of six Boeing 777-9x aircraft. Roslan Rahman / AFP
Etihad will take order of six Boeing 777-9x aircraft. Roslan Rahman / AFP

Boeing, the world's largest plane maker, expects the Middle East market for aircraft services to grow faster than the global rate over the next 20 years as the region's widebody fleet starts to age.

The US company forecasts that the Middle East demand for jet maintenance and engineering services will comprise 4.8 per cent of commercial aviation services over 20 years compared to 4 per cent globally, according to its Services Market Outlook.

Widebodies,which dominate the Middle East skies, will begin to age and therefore boost the regional demand for maintenance and engineering services above the global average through to 2037, Debra Santos, chief marketing officer for Boeing commercial services, said in Dubai on Monday.

Demand in the Middle East for commercial planes is expected to triple over the next 20 years. The region will require 2,990 new planes worth $660 billion for growth and replacement by 2037, bringing its total fleet to 3,890, according to Boeing. The company predicts the swelling fleet will propel demand for aircraft services - such as flight operations, ground handling, maintenance, engineering and cargo services - to grow 4.6 per cent annually and reach $745bn by 2037.

The Middle East will drive 8 per cent of the global $8.8 trillion commercial aviation services market over the 20 year period, according to Boeing.

Currently, 81 per cent of the region's fleet is made up of widebodies but in 20 years that could drop to 74 per cent as more low-cost carriers enter the market and use narrow-bodies to expand, Ms Santos said.

The Boeing 777 widebody fleet could provide an opportunity to convert the widebodies into freighters, which the market is calling for, Ms Santos said, without providing a possible timeline.

"Looking at life-cycle, there are a lot of 777s, so where is that transition, will they be parted out? Sold to other customers? Or is someone going to look at possibly a converted freighter?" she said.

"There's a lot of talk in the marketplace about really pushing to do that."

Updated: February 11, 2019 07:23 PM

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