Air passenger traffic growing faster than airplane capacity

“Our customers are in a good place,” a Boeing marketing executive says of the airlines.

LYNNWOOD — Airlines carried more than 4 billion passengers for the first time last year, and passenger growth will likely continue in the coming decades, a Boeing executive said Tuesday.

That makes for a rosy outlook for aerospace manufacturers, suppliers and airlines, said Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Tinseth was speaking to 400 aerospace executives and suppliers at the 17th annual Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference in Lynnwood.

He said the industry has seen eight straight years during which traffic has grown faster than capacity. That’s great for the airlines, he said.

“So we’re seeing their fares go up over time and their revenues increase,” Tinseth said. “Our customers are in a good place.”

One of the largest areas for growth in air travel is in Asia, which is seeing 100 million additional passengers each year, Tinseth said.

That’s the equivalent of adding all of the passengers who yearly pass through the world’s busiest airport — Atlanta.

Boeing expects there to be 9 billion passengers annually within 20 years. To handle that many, airlines will need 41,000 airplanes valued at $6.1 trillion.

He said that the company has been doing market outlooks for the past 50 years and sharing those outlooks with suppliers and airlines. When coming up with the current outlook, he had his staff look back on its projection 20 years ago.

In 1997, Boeing expected that 23,600 commercials jets would be in use by airlines around the world by the beginning of last year. The actual number: 23,500.

“I don’t know if it was luck but we did a great job,” Tinseth said. “The number was actually 23,480, but I’m in marketing so I rounded the number up.”

Jim Davis: 425-339-3097; jdavis@heraldnet.com; @HBJnews.

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