China predicted to buy $1.1 trillion worth of new planes over the next two decades

Key Points
  • Boeing ups its forecast for Chinese plane demand.
  • Says country will continue to grow its aviation capacity.
  • IATA says China to be biggest aviation market by 2024.
Jason Lee | Reuters

Boeing has forecast that Chinese airlines will buy 7,240 commercial aircraft worth $1.1 trillion between now and 2036.

The fresh 20-year outlook, released Wednesday, is a chunky 6.3 percent larger than the plane maker's previous estimate. Boeing said it reflected a firm belief in China's prospects.

"China's continuous economic growth, significant investment in infrastructure, growing middle-class and evolving airline business models support this long-term outlook," said Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, in the report.

"China's fleet size is expected to grow at a pace well above the world average, and almost 20 percent of global new airplane demand will be from airlines based in China," Tinseth added.

Boeing sees the need for 5,420 new single-aisle airplanes through 2036, accounting for three-quarters of total deliveries. For wide-body planes, Boeing forecasts China will require 1,670 new airplanes over the same time period.

It says passenger airlines will likely focus on smaller and medium sized wide-body aircraft while larger planes will be snapped up by freight operators.

Boeing has estimated that China's outbound travel market will soon reach 200 million passengers annually.

And worldwide, Boeing projects the need for 41,030 new commercial airplanes over the next 20 years valued at $6.1 trillion dollars.

The Chinese challenge

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), China will overtake the United States as the world's largest aviation market by passengers in the year 2024.

Beijing wants a slice of the ever increasing pie and in May, a 158-seat jetliner built by the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China took its maiden flight from Shanghai.

The C919 is a narrow-body twinjet similar in size to Boeing's 737 or the Airbus A320. The Chinese passenger jet has been under development since 2008.

Xinhua, China's official news agency, has said that while the plane might struggle at first against the likes of Airbus and Boeing, it "should do well in the Chinese market."

The C919 will be assembled in China, with some input from firms affiliated with Honeywell and General Electric.