Boeing has had to correct its forecast for the Russian and CIS region several times because of major changes in the former Soviet Union market.

Speaking during the MAKS show in Moscow, Sergey Kravchenko, Boeing president for Russia and CIS, admitted it had "considerably underestimated" prospects for the area and sales of Boeing aircraft were running above expectations.

Kravchenko said in the past 12 months Boeing had sold 107 new aircraft to the region, including 16 Boeing 777s to Aeroflot and a deal with UTAir for 40 737s.

"The economy of the region has been growing faster than our prediction," said Randy Tinseth, Boeing vice-president for marketing, noting a larger demand in the narrowbody sector.

Local airlines also appear "really capable" of managing profitable growth of their businesses, offering better services to passengers, including opening new routes and increasing frequencies, he added.

The forecast for the area has risen by 12% in aircraft numbers, and $20 billion in value, compared with Boeing's figures from a year ago. The region's GDP will grow at 3.4% annually, the airframer said, and passenger numbers will rise by 4.3%.

Boeing predicts 1,080 sales to the region in the 2011-30 timeframe, including 160 large regional jets, 680 narrowbodies, 200 widebodies and 40 high-capacity aircraft such as the 747 and A380.

The local fleet will grow from 1,140 to reach 1,400 in 2030, of which 820 will be replacement aircraft and 260 will be for expansion.

The airframer first published its market prognosis for Russia and the CIS in 2007, and has since doubled its original figures.

Tinseth explained this was partly because of "changes in the quality and quantity of trusted data".

The condition and usage of "thousands" of Soviet-era types, he added, were not known to the manufacturer during the early forecasts.

These factors have led to a wide departure from the overcautious attitude to Russian fleet data Boeing forecasters used to take.

"We increased our forecast for Russia and the CIS as we were getting more confidence in the data we were using," Tinseth said.

The region will be "one of the important markets" for replacement aircraft, he added.

Of the 1,080 aircraft sales Boeing predicts, Russia accounts for 75%, followed by Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

Boeing has 24 airline customers in the region and 255 aircraft placed with them. It said this was more than all other foreign manufacturers combined.

Source: Flight International