Boeing market outlook shows commercial jet demand declining as COVID-19 drags on

OEM cites ‘near-term industry challenges’ impacting demand with single-aisle making up largest part of industry; widebodies expect to lag on lack of international demand

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A Boeing factory in Everett, Washington. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Use this oneAmerican plane maker and defence giant Boeing on Tuesday (6 October) released its annual market forecast that showed the “commercial aviation and services markets will continue to face significant challenges” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while global defence and government services markets remain more stable.

(SOURCE: Boeing)

The 2020 Boeing Market Outlook (BMP) forecasts a total market value of US$8.5 trillion over the next decade including demand for aerospace products and services. The forecast is down from US$8.7 trillion a year ago due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Airlines globally have begun to recover from a greater than 90 percent decline in passenger traffic and revenue early this year, but a full recovery will take years, according to the outlook. The BMO includes projected demand for 18,350 commercial airplanes in the next decade – 11 percent lower than the comparable 2019 forecast – valued at about US$2.9 trillion. In the longer term, with key industry drivers expected to remain stable, the commercial fleet is forecast to return to its growth trend, generating demand for more than 43,000 new airplanes in the 20-year forecast time period.

The BMO also projects a US$2.6 trillion market opportunity for defence and space during the next decade. This spending projection reflects the ongoing importance of military aircraft, autonomous systems, satellites, spacecraft and other products to national and international defence. This demand continues to be global in nature with 40 percent of expenditures expected to originate outside of the United States. “While this year has been unprecedented in terms of its disruption to our industry, we believe that aerospace and defence will overcome these near-term challenges, return to stability and emerge with strength,” said Boeing Chief Strategy Officer Marc Allen.

Boeing also released its the 2020 Commercial Market Outlook (CMO), an annual 20-year forecast addressing the market for commercial airplanes and services, which projects an increase in the share of deliveries replacing older passenger aircraft that are being retired in an accelerated replacement cycle, especially in the first decade.

Download the Commercial Market Outlook here.

“Commercial aviation is facing historic challenges this year, significantly affecting near- and medium-term demand for airplanes and services,” said Darren Hulst, vice president, Commercial Marketing. “Yet history has also proven air travel to be resilient time and again. The current disruption will inform airline fleet strategies long into the future, as airlines focus on building versatile fleets, networks and business model innovations that deliver the most capability and greatest efficiency at the lowest risk for sustainable growth.”

Boeing hopes it formerly best-selling 737 MAX will soon be back in the air after being grounded following two crashes that killed 346 people. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

The commercial forecast found:

  • Over the next 20 years, passenger traffic growth is projected to increase by an average of 4 percent per year.
  • The global commercial fleet is expected to reach 48,400 by 2039, up from 25,900 airplanes today. During this period, Asia will continue to expand its share of the world’s fleet, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the fleet compared to about 30 percent today.
  • Single-aisle airplanes such as the 737 MAX will continue to be the largest market segment, with operators projected to need 32,270 new airplanes in the next 20 years. Single-aisle demand will recover sooner due to its key role in short-haul routes and domestic markets as well as passenger preference for point-to-point service.
  • In the widebody market, Boeing forecasts demand for 7,480 new passenger airplanes by 2039. Widebody demand will be affected by a slower recovery in long-haul markets – typical after air-travel shocks – as well as uncertainties from COVID-19’s impact on international travel.
  • Air cargo demand, a relative bright spot in 2020, is expected to grow 4 percent annually and generate further demand for 930 new widebody production freighters and 1,500 converted freighters over the forecast period.

The global airplane fleet will continue to generate demand for aviation services, including parts and supply chain; engineering, modifications and maintenance; training and professional services; and digital solutions and analytics. The served market for commercial services is valued at US$1.6 trillion, and US$1.4 trillion for government services.

“Boeing is focused on making sure that the right services solutions are available to help our customers and industry navigate the downturn and scale their operations accordingly as near-term demand trends upward. For example, low-cost digital solutions can help manage some of the most critical and dynamic aspects of operations, such as crew scheduling,” said Eric Strafel, vice president, Boeing Global Services Strategy.

Around the world, the long-term need for commercial pilots, maintenance technicians and cabin crew remains robust. Boeing’s 2020 Pilot and Technician Outlook forecasts that the civil aviation industry will need nearly 2.4 million new aviation personnel between now and 2039.

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