Boeing forecasts lower demand

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By Max Kingsley-Jones

Boeing has taken the almost unprecedented move of forecasting lower long-term airliner demand than before, after adjusting its outlook for the current economic turmoil and falls in passenger and cargo growth over the next 20 years.

The airframer's 2009 Current Market Outlook, released today, forecasts 29,000 aircraft will be delivered between now and 2028, more than 1% lower than the 29,400 units forecast last year.

"It's very rare for the number to be lower, it's not happened before in the last 10 years," says Randy Tinseth, who is vice-president marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

He says that there are various reasons for the decline: "The base we're starting with is smaller - there are fewer aircraft in the fleet than last year - and growth rates are lower".

© Boeing

The current fleet in last year's outlook was 19,000 aircraft, but this has declined to 18,800 this year due to the impact of the downturn and the escalation in retirements and parked aircraft.

Boeing's assumptions for the long-term growth of the world economy, passengers and airline traffic have declined by a 0.1 percentage point over last year's to 3.1%, 4.1% and 4.9%, respectively. Cargo growth has taken a bigger hit, declining by 0.4 percentage points to 5.4% over last year.

The result is that the airframer's estimate for the in-service fleet at the end of its forecast has seen a fall, rather than the usual increase, from 35,800 in the 2008 outlook to 35,600.

The other major adjustment this year is Boeing's outlook for very large aircraft demand (passenger and freighters), which it has reduced by almost 25% from 980 in the 2008 outlook. "This is largely due to our adjustment to the cargo growth forecast," says Tinseth.

He says that while the forecast for the demand for new narrowbody and medium widebody freighters is unchanged, the outlook for large freighters (777F, 747-8I, etc) has declined by 150 aircraft to 490. "It's also the first year we have assumed that our competitor won't compete with a new large freighter [ie the A380F]," adds Tinseth.

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