Widebody planes account for bulk of regional demand for next two decades, latest forecasts show
Middle East carriers to need 2,990 new aircraft over 20 years, says Boeing
Airlines in the Middle East will require 2,990 new aircraft worth a total $754 billion over the next 20 years, to meet rising demand as the region continues to grow its commercial aviation industry, according to US plane maker Boeing.
Demand for widebody aircraft will account for the bulk (52 per cent) of new requirements, said Boeing’s latest Commercial Market Outlook published on Tuesday.
“Widebody airlines comprise an unusually high share of the fleet in this region (approximately 47 per cent today),” the report said. “This preference is driven by two factors: their usefulness in serving high-volume routes to Asia and Europe; and their key role in providing one-stop itineraries on ultra-long-haul markets like London to Sydney.”
Boeing revised downwards earlier forecasts for the region made in November, when it predicted Middle East airlines would need 3,350 new planes over the next 20 years.
Middle East carriers’ passenger traffic grew 10.7 per cent in March, buoyed by strong travel to Asia, according to figures published in May by trade body the International Air Transport Association (Iata). The Middle East aviation market is predicted to grow “strongly” at an annual rate of around 5 per cent over the next 15 years – resulting in a total market size of 517 million passengers by 2036, Iata said last year.
Boeing’s latest forecasts for the region are in line with Iata’s projections. The report forecasts 5.2 per cent growth in traffic over the next 20 years, supported by a 4.9 per cent increase in total regional fleet size. The size of the Middle East market is expected to be worth $660bn in two decades, Boeing added.
Globally, more than 42,700 new airplanes worth $6.3 trillion will be required to service airlines’ needs, presenting a total market opportunity of $15tn.
“For the first time in years, we are seeing economies growing in every region of the world, and this synchronised growth is providing more stimulus for global air travel,” said Randy Tinseth, vice-president of commercial marketing for the Boeing Company.
“We are seeing strong traffic trends not only in the emerging markets of China and India, but also the mature markets of Europe and North America.
“Along with continued traffic expansion, the [Boeing] data shows a big retirement wave approaching as older airplanes age out of the global fleet,” he added.
According to fleet data, there are more than 900 aircraft today that are more than 25 years old, Boeing’s report noted. By the mid 2020s, more than 500 planes a year will reach 25 years of age – double the current rate and fuelling this “retirement wave”. Almost half (44 per cent) of the forecast planes will be needed to cover replacement alone, it said. Including aircraft that will be retained, the global fleet is projected to double in size to 48,540 by 2037.
Globally, the single-aisle segment will see the biggest growth over the forecast period with demand for 31,360 new planes, an increase of 6.1 per cent over last year, driven by continued growth of low-cost carriers and strong demand in emerging markets.
The widebody segment will require 8,070 new planes worth nearly $2.5tn over the next 20 years, spearheaded by a large wave of replacements starting early in the next decade and airlines deploying advanced jets such as the 787 Dreamliner and 777X to expand their global networks.
The Asia Pacific region will continue to lead the way in terms of aircraft needs, accounting for 40 per cent of total deliveries and 38 per cent of total services value, followed by North America and Europe, according to the report.
The expanding global fleet will stimulate growth of “an enormous ecosystem of service providers”, Mr Tinseth said. Boeing forecasts 4.2 per cent growth in the commercial aviation services industry, including supply chain support, maintenance and engineering, aircraft modifications and other services, creating an $8.8tn market over the next 20 years.