By Kieran Daly in London

Boeing’s latest 20-year forecast predicts a $2.6 trillion global market for around 27,200 aircraft – about 5% more aircraft than it expected in last year’s outlook due to accelerated retirement rates driven by rising fuel prices.

The only other substantial change from the 2005 forecast is a 10% reduction in the number of regional aircraft (below 90 seats) and a corresponding increase in the quantity of single-aisle types from 100-240 seats instead.

Boeing has slightly increased its forecast for aircraft in the Airbus A380 class, although the extra sales are predicted to be in the distant future to cater for growth in trunk intercontinental routes. It says that “almost all of the growth” in travel over the next 20 years will be catered for by aircraft of 100-400 seats.

The company believes that there is a requirement for 650 passenger aircraft in the 747/A380 class, up from 590 last year, of which about half can only be satisfied by the A380. That compares to an Airbus forecast requirement of 1,250 aircraft of at least 450 seats. The manufacturers differ only slightly on freighter aircraft in the same category.

The total numbers, presented today from London by vice president marketing Randy Baseler, mean the worldwide fleet would double by 2025 from today’s 17,330 to 35,970. The manufacturer expects about half the current fleet to remain in service during that period.

By category, the forecast deliveries, for passenger and freight models, are as follows:

Aircraft category
2006 forecast
2005 forecast
Regional jets
3,450 3,900
16,540 15,300
Twin-aisle 200-400
Ultra-large airliner
Source: Boeing

Key growth assumptions are: worldwide economic growth to average 3.1% per year; passenger traffic growth 4.9% per year; cargo traffic growth 6.1% per year.

Baseler says Boeing is assuming an oil price of $50 per barrel, the emergence of emissions trading with a neutral effect, and that transfer traffic at congested airports will simply migrate to alternative locations with no net effect.

Regionally, Asia-Pacific will be the most valuable market – worth 36% of the total $2.6 trillion driven by exceptional demand for twin-aisle aircraft to cope with robust traffic growth.

North America will account for 28% by value and Europe for 24%, with Latin America, the Middle East and Africa making up the remaining 12%.

The freighter fleet is separately expected to double from today’s 1,790 aircraft to 3,560, with a marked shift towards widebodies which will come to make up 64% of the fleet.

Source: Flight International