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Boeing sees budget airlines driving jet market to US$5.6t

[CHICAGO] Boeing Co sees booming demand from no- frills carriers driving commercial aircraft sales to US$5.6 trillion over the next 20 years as travelers take wing in developing nations.

Single-aisle jets such as the 737 will be the fastest- growing part of a global fleet doubling to 43,560 planes, Boeing said Thursday in its annual market outlook. At the other end of the spectrum, demand will keep shrinking for four-engine jumbos.

Narrow-body models are the workhorses of the world's airlines, carrying about 75 per cent of passengers, and they're the most common jets in use at low-cost airlines. Sales in the segment should total US$2.8 trillion by 2034, almost half Boeing's predicted value for aircraft shipments in the next two decades.

Boeing released the market forecast ahead of next week's Paris Air Show, the aerospace industry's largest and oldest trade event. The Chicago-based planemaker uses the study to help steer long-range planning for aircraft production.

"The commercial airplane market continues to be strong and resilient," said Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

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Discount airlines will take about 35 per cent of the single- aisle deliveries over the next 20 years, Boeing said. The fastest-growing regions include Asia and the Middle East, while Boeing now predicts fewer shipments to Europe than it did in 2014's forecast.

Boeing tempered its prediction for growth in the airliner market. The new outlook envisions a 3.5 per cent increase over the 2014 prediction. Last year, Boeing's two-decade forecast marked a 4.2 per cent boost from the prior year.

Passenger traffic will continue to grow at about a 4.9 per cent annual pace, short of the historic rate of 5 per cent, Boeing said. Airfreight will increase at about 4.7 per cent annually, driving demand for 920 new planes over the forecast period.

"We've seen two years of solid growth in the air-cargo market and we expect that growth to continue," Mr Tinseth said. That would brighten sales prospects for Boeing's purpose-built freighter models - the 747-8, 767 and 777. The 787 Dreamliner isn't available yet in a cargo-only variant.

Four-engine behemoths like Boeing's humpbacked 747 and Airbus Group SE's A380 doubledecker will continue to fade away as twin-engine models fly longer distances. During the next two decades, Boeing sees 540 sales of aircraft seating 400 or more people. That's 13 per cent fewer than it predicted last year.


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