Oct 6, 2020 - Economy & Business

Boeing expects to sell fewer planes over the next decade

Image of a Delta Air Lines planes at Salt Lake City airport.

(Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

Boeing expects demand for commercial airplanes over the next decade to be 11 percent lower than what it was forecasting just a little over a year ago — a direct result of the economic shock from the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Yes, but: Long-term growth rates should return after 2030, the company said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The pandemic upended what had been a long, steady ascent for the global aviation industry, with U.S. domestic passenger traffic down 70 percent and by as much as 90 percent internationally.

By the numbers: Boeing's annual forecast, published since 1961, is considered one of the most accurate forecasts in the aviation industry.

  • The company estimates the total market for planes, products and services will be $8.5 trillion over the next decade, down from the $8.7 trillion forecast a year ago.
  • It projects demand for 18,350 commercial airplanes in the next decade — 11% lower than the comparable 2019 forecast — worth about $2.9 trillion. Many of them will be replacements for existing planes.
  • Demand for defense and space aircraft remains strong, a market worth $2.6 trillion, with 40 percent outside the U.S.

Longer term, the trends look more stable, Boeing said:

  • Over the next 20 years, passenger traffic growth is projected to increase by an average of 4% per year.
  • The global commercial fleet is expected to reach 48,400 by 2039, up from 25,900 airplanes today.
  • Asia-based airlines will continue to expand their share of the world’s fleet, to nearly 40%, from about 30% today.

There's also some good news on the jobs front. Despite massive furloughs during the pandemic, demand for pilots and technicians remains strong.

  • Boeing estimates the industry will need 2.4 million aviation personnel worldwide between now and 2039.

The bottom line, says Boeing's chief strategy officer, Marc Allen:

  • “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."
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