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Covid-19 hits medium-term demand for jets: Boeing forecast

·2-min read
Boeing trimmed its forecast for new commercial plane sales in light of the coronavirus pandemic
Boeing trimmed its forecast for new commercial plane sales in light of the coronavirus pandemic

The hit from the coronavirus will dent demand for new commercial planes over the next two decades, according to a Boeing forecast released Tuesday.

The aviation giant now projects there will be 18,350 new commercial planes needed over the next decade, 11 percent below Boeing's 2019 forecast.

But as with other difficult periods such as right after the September 11 attacks or the aftermath of 2008 financial crisis, "the industry will prove resilience again," said Darren Hulst, vice president of marketing at Boeing.

"The fundamentals aren't changing," he said.

Boeing expects solid demand growth to continue into the 2030s. Still, the forecast at the end of the 20-year period is for growth of 43,110 new planes, five percent below Boeing's prior forecast.

"While this year has been unprecedented in terms of its disruption to our industry, we believe that aerospace and defense will overcome these near-term challenges, return to stability and emerge with strength," said Boeing Chief Strategy Officer Marc Allen.

Over the next 20 years, Boeing foresees passenger traffic growing by an average of four percent per year.

At the end of the 20-year period, the total global fleet is estimated at 48,400 planes, compared with 25,900 today.

Travel on commercial flights has recovered a bit from a 90 percent plunge earlier this year during the most severe coronavirus lockdowns. 

However, travel volumes are still only about 25 percent of their pre-Covid 19 level, and Boeing expects a full recovery to take at least a few years, particularly for longer flights.

The dynamics have prodded some companies to accelerate fleet retirements of some older jets.

Single-aisle jets used for domestic travel or short distances are expected to recover more quickly than large planes.

Boeing rival Airbus did not release forecasts for this year due to the uncertain effects of Covid-19 on air travel.

jul-jmb/bgs