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World air fleet to double in 20 years, Boeing says

Published: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 12:47 p.m. CDT

PARIS – Boeing predicted that the number of commercial aircraft in operation globally will double in the next two decades, with the bulk of some 35,000 new planes going to Asia, an executive from the U.S. airplane-maker said Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of the Bourget international air show in Paris, Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing Co., said rising oil prices are forcing carriers to think harder about efficiency, and that means smaller planes that burn less fuel. It also means design changes, streamlined air traffic control and improved navigation to shave miles off each flight.

The demand for fuel efficiency has eaten away at orders for the wide-body long haul carriers that are major profit-drivers for Boeing and Airbus, the world's two biggest aircraft manufacturers. Boeing predicted that 24,670 of the 35,000 new airplanes to be delivered would be single-aisle craft, seating between 90 and 230 passengers. Just 760 were expected to be large wide-body jets, seating more than 400 passengers.

The 20-year forecast, which Boeing puts out annually, predicts 60 percent of the demand for aircraft will come from Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. The rest comes from carriers in Europe and North America.

The commercial fleet today stands at 20,310 aircraft, Boeing says. Counting the withdrawal of older planes, the fleet is forecast to grow to 41,240 by 2032.

Among the new orders, 12,820 are expected to go to the Asia-Pacific region. The next-largest market is Europe, with 7,460 deliveries. Airline consolidation in the United States has caused orders to drop sharply there — a trend that is likely to spread to Europe in coming years, Tinseth said.

Boeing had a tough start this year, when its flagship 787 was grounded worldwide because of smoldering batteries on two different planes. American regulators have since approved the company's fix and the plane is cleared to fly again.

Competitor Airbus, meanwhile, is introducing a new plane of its own, although the A350 has not yet made its first flight.

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