More single-aisle, fewer regional and jumbo aircraft in Boeing's forecast

The retirement of older, single-aisle and regional jets will drive the majority of aircraft purchases in North America, according to a forecast issued yesterday by Boeing. The manufacturer said that North American carriers – the US and Canada – will take delivery of about 7,300 new aircraft over the next two decades for a value of USD700 million.

Not surprisingly, Boeing predicts a decline in demand for regional jets in North America and expects airlines to move to larger turboprops and single-aisle mainliners. It cited high fuel prices, intensified competition and the superior efficiencies of larger single-aisles as reason for the decline in regional aircraft demand. It expects regional aircraft will account for only 4%, or 800 aircraft, of total aircraft investment over the next 20 years, nearly all for replacement.

The North American fleet will rise from 6,590 aircraft today to about 9,000 by 2029 with single-aisle aircraft growing from 56% of the total North American fleet to 71% of the fleet. The main concerns of North American airlines centre on age, weight and fuel consumption as well as the impact on climate change. Large aircraft – 747 and larger – will not enjoy growing demand in the market with Boeing predicting demand for only about 40 units – 1% of total investment – all of which will be freighters.

"North America is a large, mature market, and we expect passenger traffic for the region to grow at a modest rate of 3.4 percent," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes Vice President of Marketing Randy Tinseth, who released the forecast in Montreal. "The fast-paced lifestyles in Canada and the US require rapid, frequent and reliable coast-to-coast and inter-regional transportation. Driven by this demand, nearly three-quarters of the new deliveries over the next 20 years will be single-aisle airplanes."

Tinseth reported the company sees improvement in airline focus on fleet renewal plans. Small and mid-sized twin-aisle aircraft will constitute 19% of the fleet by 2029 while twin-aisle fleets will continue expanding international point-to-point services to a wider range of airport pairs and frequencies. The company expects demand for 1,180 new twin aisles and suggests the sector will account for only 16% of the total aircraft demand in North America in the next 20 years. However, not unexpectedly, they will account for 37% of overall aircraft investment.

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