Wednesday 21 March 2018

Aircraft makers lift forecasts on Asian demand

A Boeing 747 cargo plane at the Farnborough Airshow
A Boeing 747 cargo plane at the Farnborough Airshow

Sarah Young and Conor Humphries

Airbus and Boeing raised their long-term forecasts for new aircraft demand yesterday, betting that rising wealth in Asia would continue to boost air travel and offset any short-term hits to the global economy.

The world's two biggest planemakers also announced a flurry of multi-billion dollar jet deals at the biennial Farnborough Airshow, which opened yesterday 72km southwest of London.

Airbus and Boeing have enjoyed years of strong sales, with rising air travel and demand for new fuel-efficient planes raising the industry's order backlog to a record 13,500 planes at the end of 2015, or near 10 years of production at current rates.

Some analysts have cautioned that economic risks from slowing growth in China to Britain's decision to leave the European Union could see orders start to dry up or be cancelled, particularly for larger twin-aisle jets.

The planemakers remain bullish, however.

Boeing forecast airlines will need 39,620 new aircraft worth $5.9 trillion over the next 20 years, up 4.1pc from its estimate last year.

"Despite recent events that have impacted the financial markets, the aviation sector will continue to see long-term growth with the commercial fleet doubling in size," said Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Boeing forecast airline passenger traffic would increase by 4.8pc per year over the next two decades.

Airbus raised its 20-year demand forecast to 30,070 new aircraft, up 500 from its previous estimate, and saw passenger traffic rising by an average of 4.5pc per year.

"Middle classes in emerging markets will double to 3.5 billion people by 2035," Airbus said in a statement, predicting particularly strong demand in China and India.

Some industry executives sounded more cautious, however.

Opening the Farnborough event, British Prime Minister David Cameron finalised multi-billion dollar deals with Boeing to buy nine P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol planes and to upgrade 50 Apache helicopters. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business