Boeing's latest market forecast continues to rubbish Airbus's predictions for ultra- large aircraft sales. The new 20-year market outlook from the US manufacturer puts demand for 500-plus seaters at just 320 aircraft, compared with the 1,140 predicted by Airbus in its most recent forecast.

"When you fly, do you want to go direct to your destination or connect?" says Boeing's vice-president marketing Randy Baseler. The US manufacturer believes airlines will strive to meet passenger demand for direct flights, and that the trend of declining average aircraft size will continue.

Baseler believes "there are a few routes where a 500-seater is required", but demand will not exceed 320 aircraft through to 2022. Twenty-year demand in the 400- to 500- seat category is put at 340 aircraft, which Baseler says is "the replacement market for the 747-400 passenger fleet". This is expected to begin in earnest from the end of the decade when the oldest -400s will be 20 years old, he adds. A further 240 new large freighters with a payload greater than 65,000kg (143,000lb) will be delivered, says Baseler. Overall forecast is up by 300, at 24,300 aircraft. The whole market is valued at $1,900 billion in 2002 US dollars. Long-term annual world gross domestic product growth is expected to average 3.2%, says Baseler. Airbus has not released its 2003 forecast, but its most recent outlook (2001-20) puts total demand at 16,000 passenger aircraft and freighters, worth $1,500 billion (in 2002 dollars), excluding aircraft with fewer than 100 seats.

Source: Flight International