Boeing Raises China Forecast 15% as Economic Growth Spurs Travel

Boeing Co. raised its 20-year forecast for commercial-aircraft demand in China by 15 percent as rising wages spur travel in the world’s fastest-growing aviation market.

The country will need 5,000 new planes with a value of $600 billion through 2030, according to an annual forecast the Chicago-based company released today in Beijing. Last year it said China would need 4,330 new planes with a value of $480 billion over 20 years. Small and medium-sized twin-aisle planes will make up more than 40 percent of total, the planemaker said.

China’s commercial fleet will more than triple to 5,930 planes in the period, Boeing said, as economic growth above 9 percent a year makes holidays and business trips affordable to more people. That demand has prompted the nation to form a state-backed planemaker to challenge Boeing and Airbus SAS’s stranglehold on the global single-aisle aircraft market.

“Boeing expects strong, long-term growth in the China market in the next 20 years,” Randy Tinseth, the planemaker’s vice president for marketing, said at a briefing. Boeing has no plans currently to build a production line in China, he said.

Sixteen percent of the planes China buys in the next 20 years will be replacements, Tinseth said.

Air China Ltd., the world’s largest airline by market value, aims to double its widebody fleet to 100 planes in the five years through 2015, Vice President He Li said in July. China Southern Airlines Co., Asia’s biggest carrier by passenger numbers, is due to begin flying its first Airbus A380 next month. The company has also ordered 10 Boeing 787s.

Chinese-made Plane

Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China is set to introduce the C919, the nation’s first large passenger aircraft, in 2014. The planemaker has won orders for as many as 100 C919s from customers including Air China, China Southern and China Eastern Airlines Corp., the country’s big three carriers.

China plans to invest 1.5 trillion yuan ($235 billion) in the aviation industry in the five years ending 2015, Li Jiaxiang, director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said in a statement in March. The country expects to have 230 airports and 4,500 planes by the end of the period, he said.

China’s international passenger numbers will likely grow 11 percent a year through 2014, the fastest pace worldwide, the International Air Transport Association said in February.

— With assistance by Jasmine Wang, and Penny Peng

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