Boeing may have significantly raised its 20-year delivery forecast in its latest current market outlook, but it continues to predict demand will remain flat in the 400-seat-plus sector, where the 747-8 competes with the larger Airbus A380.

Here Boeing's latest forecast has declined slightly, from 740 deliveries to 720 (including around 220 freighters), which is less than half of the 1,729 aircraft market predicted by Airbus in its latest 20-year forecast.

"Airbus is waiting for a paradigm shift in the marketplace, and that just hasn't happened," says vice-president marketing Randy Tinseth. "The A380 has underperformed in the market even to our expectations," he adds, referring to the superjumbo's sluggish sales in recent years before June's Emirates deal for 32 more A380s.

A380 in final assembly line, ©Airbus
 © Airbus
Emirates A380 in final production

In the presentation of the current outlook, Tinseth compares the two airframers' passenger aircraft forecasts from 2000 - the year that Airbus launched the A380. He points out that a decade ago Airbus put 20-year demand in the A380 category at 1,200 aircraft, but in the first 10 years since publication only around 300 747/A380-sized aircraft have been delivered.

"For Airbus to make that year 2000 forecast happen, they have to figure out a way to deliver 1,000 A380s in the next 10 years."

Tinseth, who points to the fact that Emirates' 90 orders represent 38% of the entire A380 orderbook, sees the airline and its fellow Middle East carriers as major threat to the legacy network players outside the region. "Based on the aircraft they're buying, the Middle East airlines are focused on taking the majority of the growth in the market, which is going to impact the other airlines," he says.

Source: Flight International