Boeing 20-year forecast: jetliners worth $5.2 trillion

By Dan Catchpole Herald Writer

EVERETT — Each year, more and more people fly, and they increasingly want to travel directly, bypassing hubs and saving time. For the Boeing Co., that means a couple of decades of sustained demand for new airplanes, mostly single-aisle ones, according to the aircraft maker’s updated forecast for the commercial airplane market.

And that means production lines will be busy for years to come.

Boeing forecasts demand for nearly 36,800 airplanes worth about $5.2 trillion, according to the latest forecast, which covers 2013 to 2033.

The annual outlook, which was released early Thursday, is nearly the same as last year’s but includes some tweaks. The new version nudged up the number of new passengers — from 4.1 percent to 4.2 percent — while moving down expansion in freight traffic from 5 percent to 4.7 percent.

More important, though, is that all factors — world economy, new passengers, airline traffic and cargo traffic — are expected to grow, according to Boeing.

Single-aisle airplanes, such as Boeing’s 737 and Airbus Group’s A320, make up about 70 percent of expected new orders, but the $2.5 trillion value for the projected 25,000 orders is only about 48 percent of the overall market.

Twin-aisle airplanes, such as the 777 and 787, make up about 21 percent of projected orders — about 8,500 — but are also worth about $2.5 trillion.

The remaining demand is for regional jetliners such as those built by Bombardier and Embraer. Boeing’s forecast includes nearly 2,500 orders worth about $100 billion.

Boeing has been doing market forecasts since the 1950s and tends to err on the conservative side, said Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

“There’s always bumps” in the market, but that shouldn’t significantly affect production rates, he said.

And the company over-books orders, knowing some will inevitably be canceled, delayed or converted to orders for different Boeing airplanes, he said.

That is a key reason that “we can keep our production going at regular and dependable rates,” Tinseth said.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.