Boeing says industry is in rude health as orders soar at Paris Airshow
Paris — Boeing raised its 20-year industry forecast for passenger and freight plane deliveries by 4% on Tuesday, though executives at the world’s biggest airshow in Paris expect demand this year to cool from recent red-hot levels.
The US aircraft maker continued to rack up orders at the Paris Airshow for a new model of its best-selling 737 aircraft, which was launched on Monday amid a flurry of deals.
Leasing firm Aviation Capital Group (ACG), for example, said it had placed an order for 20 of the new 737 MAX 10 jets, worth a total of $2.5bn at list prices. "It is getting a big endorsement from airlines and that is leading to more lessors endorsing it too," Ihssane Mounir, Boeing vice-president for sales and marketing, told reporters.
But analysts expect demand at the June 19 to 25 event in Paris to fall short of recent years, and some aviation companies have cut back on staff and hospitality at the show. Over the longer term, though, Boeing sees an industry in rude health, forecasting 41,030 plane deliveries worth more than $6-trillion over the next two decades, up from 39,620 in a similar projection a year ago.
Boeing’s projection includes a 5% increase in the 20-year forecast for deliveries of single-aisle aircraft, such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 families, the cash cows of the world’s two largest aircraft manufacturers. Boeing now expects 29,530 deliveries in the medium-haul, single-aisle category, which is popular with low-cost airlines.
Aircraft leasing company Avolon announced a provisional deal on Tuesday to buy 75 Boeing 737 MAX 8s worth $8.4bn at list prices and said it would have a "hard look" at possible orders for the MAX 10.
Airbus, meanwhile, agreed a provisional $5bn deal with low-cost carrier Viva Air Peru for 50 A320 jets, confirming a Reuters report.
Air travel has been on a sharp uptrend, led by emerging economies as China looks set to replace North America as the world’s biggest transport market in the coming years. But China’s economic expansion is slowing, even though it remains above 6% a year. Boeing trimmed its 20-year forecast for average global traffic growth to 4.7% from 4.8%. Airbus took a similar step with its 20-year forecast released earlier this month, though it raised its projection for total deliveries by 6% from last year to 34,899 aircraft.
Boeing’s overall tally is higher, partly because it counts aircraft with 90 seats or more, whereas Airbus starts at 100.
With demand for new jets cooling, aircraft makers are seeing greater opportunities in aviation services. Boeing forecast that the market could be worth $8.5-trillion over 20 years, growing at an average 4% a year. Airbus launched a digital services platform on Tuesday, which it said could crunch data to help airlines improve maintenance, reduce fuel burn and optimise routes.
Bigger not better?
In a symbolic change likely to rankle its European rival, Boeing ditched its forecast for very large, four-engined airplanes such as the Airbus A380 and its 747-8. For the first time, it lumped these models with large, two-engined jets such as the Boeing 777 and the largest Airbus A350.
Boeing has long argued that the "very large" category is on its way out as airlines switch to smaller twin-jets. Both manufacturers have had to cut output of four-engined jumbos.
"Frankly, we look at the demand for really big airplanes and we find it hard to believe that Airbus will be able to deliver the rest of their A380s in backlog," Boeing marketing vice-president Randy Tinseth said in a briefing.
Airbus insists the double-decker A380 has a future due to airport congestion and predicts 5% of aircraft delivered over the next 20 years will be very large people carriers or freighters, even though it lowered its forecast. "They would do that, the 747-8 isn’t selling," Airbus sales chief John Leahy said of Boeing’s decision to ditch its separate forecast for the biggest planes. "We have no intention of sharing that market with them, albeit a smaller market than we might have thought."
"Traffic is doubling," he said. "[Boeing’s] explanation is ‘we’ll fly more flights’. I’m sorry, but you can’t do it. You have to have bigger aircraft."
Boeing predicts demand for 920 cargo planes, down 1% from its previous forecast. Much air cargo nowadays goes in the belly of wide-body passenger planes rather than freighters.