Boeing has increased its demand forecast for ultra-large aircraft in its latest 20-year market outlook. The US manufacturer says around 22,300 new aircraft will be delivered through to 2019, worth $1,500 billion. The forecast has more than doubled in value this year compared to the 1999 forecast, to $4,000 billion, as Boeing has included aviation services in its calculations for the first time.

The row between Boeing and its European rival Airbus Industrie over the size of the large airliner market continues to rumble on, although the European firm has not yet published its new forecast.

Boeing continues to take a relatively pessimistic view of the market for aircraft seating at least 400 passengers. The company remains convinced that fragmentation of route networks will focus demand on smaller widebodies.

The Airbus view is that congestion and infrastructure restraints will force airlines to move to larger aircraft to keep pace with passenger growth.

Boeing's latest forecast puts large aircraft demand at 1,010 aircraft worth $195 billion, split almost equally between the 400-450 seat and 450-seat plus categories. While the total figure is up on 1999's figure of 930 units, Boeing has transferred its demand estimates in favour of the larger of the two categories.

"We have shifted some of the freighters out of the 400-seat category into the larger group," says Boeing vice-president marketing Randy Baseler. "This has pushed up demand [in the latter category] to around 500 aircraft," he adds. Last year's forecast put this market at around 370 units.

Baseler expects most of the 500 747-400 sized units will be passenger aircraft, while one-third of the 500 aircraft in the larger category will be freighters.

Boeing continues to have a fairly bleak view of short-term demand for ultra-large aircraft. "We believe that only 87 of those 500 aircraft will be delivered in the 10 years, while Airbus sees 330 aircraft," he says. "Fifteen to 20 years out maybe [there will be enough demand] for an all-new aircraft. At the moment there's no need for it," adds Baseler.

Airbus has completed its own market forecast, but is not releasing data until next month. Sources suggest, however, that it has increased its forecast for very large aircraft by around 50 aircraft to 1,250 units and slightly reduced its freighter estimate from last year's 300 aircraft.

"The truth is probably somewhere in the middle," says International Lease Finance chief executive Steve Hazy, who signed a letter of intent for five A3XXs at the show. "If that's the case there will be a significant amount of business for both manufacturers."

Meanwhile, Boeing forecasts that the largest chunk of future business - around $2,600 billion - will come from non-direct manufacturing operations. "Increased penetration of the support services market will fuel our revenue growth over our traditional aircraft business," says Baseler.

Source: Flight International