SINGAPORE: Asia-Pacific airlines will need almost 13,000 new planes worth $1.9 trillion over the next two decades as rising wealth in the region fuels demand for air travel, Boeing said on Monday.
The US plane maker said on the eve of the Singapore Airshow that 12,820 extra aircraft would be needed by 2032, and the region would account for 36 percent of global deliveries of passenger and freight planes during the period.
It also estimated the total Asia-Pacific airplane fleet would reach 14,750 in that time compared with 5,090 in 2012.
Boeing’s European rival Airbus had said last year that Asia-Pacific carriers would take delivery of 9,870 new passenger and cargo aircraft valued at $1.6 trillion over the next 20 years.
Airbus will have its own press briefing at the Singapore Airshow on Tuesday, but on Monday it invited journalists to a display of its latest plane, the A350-XWB, which is expected to come into service later this year.
“Over the next 20 years, nearly half of the world’s air traffic growth will be driven by travel to, or from within, the region [Asia],” Boeing said in a statement.
Randy Tinseth, Boeing’s vice president for marketing, said: “New low-cost carriers and demand for intra-Asia travel have fueled the substantial increase in single-aisle planes.”
Single-aisle planes such as Boeing’s next-generation 737 and the 737 MAX will represent 69 percent of new airplanes in the region, the US aircraft maker said, driven by a rise in the number of budget carriers.
Budget airlines from Indonesia, India, Thailand and Malaysia accounted for over half of global low-cost carrier seat capacity growth last year, according to a study by travel technology company Amadeus.
Demand for travel in the region is soaring thanks to a fast-growing middle class in emerging economies such as China and India along with Southeast Asian countries.
Over the next 20 years, Boeing expects Asia-Pacific gross domestic product to grow 4.5 percent annually, much faster than the projected global average of 3.2 percent.
Passenger traffic in the region is likely to expand by 6.3 percent annually in the same period and cargo at 5.8 percent, also faster than the global rates.
Tinseth said that the number of people worldwide who traveled by air exceeded three billion for the first time last year, and the figure was expected to approach 6.5 billion by 2032.
Cargo business to recover
The cargo business remains weak but is recovering, he said.
“As the world economy improves, as trade improves, we expect that market to continue to strengthen,” he said.
Tony Tyler, director general of the International Air Transport Association, said on Sunday that the profit margins of the world’s top airlines are being eroded by the struggling air cargo business.
Tinseth, however, said that airlines this year are expected to report better profits than in 2013, thanks to stable fuel prices and robust passenger traffic growth. Boeing and Airbus are among the key participants at the Singapore Airshow, Asia’s top aerospace and defense exhibition.
Both commercial and military manufacturers use the event to boost sales in the region, where defense spending is also on the rise at a time of festering territorial disputes.