Boeing remains confident in estimated 2009 deliveries

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A top Boeing executive says that sharply declining passenger traffic this year has not yet affected projected aircraft deliveries.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Scott Carson says airlines have responded to slowing passenger demand in the near-term by retiring older aircraft faster.

Although Carson acknowledges the current economic crisis has raised new questions about the availability of aircraft financing, Boeing's delivery forecast for this year remains intact.

"We're not seeing an impact this year on our anticipated deliveries," Carson told about 500 people attending the keynote luncheon speech today of the FAA Forecast Conference.

Passengers flying US mainline carriers on domestic routes are expected to drop 8.8% in 2009, according to the new FAA forecast.

In his speech, Carson spoke of seeing different economic models within last week showing a recovery starting in three months and three years.

"Things could get worse before they get better and we're unsure when the turnaround might be," he says.

However, Carson says, the airline industry bounced back after the US terror attacks in 2001 and after the outbreak of the SARS virus in 2002. Both recoveries occurred because of the "criticality" of air travel, which represents 8% of world gross domestic product, Carson says.

Expecting better days ahead, Carson is calling on the aviation community to embrace risk management practices to improve safety on a worldwide basis. The aviation industry also must embrace "responsible growth", says Carson, by transforming the air traffic management system and heeding calls to reduce emissions.